Tell IDPH to Withdraw Proposed Rule
Stop Illinois Department of Health from Adopting Any Raw Milk Regulations
For over 30 years, the unlicensed on-farm sale of raw milk has been legal by policy in Illinois. It's a policy that has worked well with no reports of foodborne illness attributed to Illinois raw milk producers going at least as far back as 1998, if not further back.
The Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) issued proposed regulations on September 5th that a number of raw milk producers believe would put them out of business. The proposed regulations contain sanitary standards that can be arbitrarily applied against producers, provide requirements intruding on the farmer-consumer relationship, and prohibit distribution of raw milk through herdshares and CSAs unless the dairies are in compliance with all requirements for Grade A dairies - a financially impossible standard for small family farms to meet. The proposed rules even prohibit unlicensed dairy farmers from giving raw milk to guests at their homes.
An official with IDPH has admitted that the regulations the department wants to become law would not be passed by the Illinois Legislature if submitted as a bill. If it won't pass through the people's branch of government, why should the agency adopt it as law?
IDPH published the proposed rules in the Illinois Register which allows for a 45-day comment period. Now is a good opportunity to also contact legislators of the Joint Committee on Administrative Review (JCAR) which will begin its review after the comment period.
See More Information below.
IMPORTANT DEADLINES (see action steps below):
Thursday, Sep. 18: Request a hearing on the proposed regulations
Monday, Oct. 20: Submit comments to IDPH
Please pass this alert on and ask others to do the same.
| |Action #1 - Request a Hearing Ask IDPH to hold a hearing on the proposed rule, "Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products" (77 Ill. Adm. Code 775); see Talking Points below.
If, by September 18, twenty-five (25) individuals request a hearing, IDPH by law must hold one. The email address is [email protected]
| |Action #2 - Submit Comments Submit comments to IDPH and request that it withdraw the rule; see Talking Points below.
When using the online form to Submit Comments, here's what to type in the fields (see example):
Proposed Rule: Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products
Rule Title Number: 77
Rule Part Number: 775
Volume Number: 38Page Number: 18346
Date Published: 9/5/2014
| |Action #3 - Contact JCAR Call or email members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Regulations (JCAR). JCAR is a legislative body that has the power to reject proposed rules, after the initial 45-day comment period. JCAR will have the proposed rules before it for review in a second 45-day comment period. Now is an opportunity to let the committee know in advance why it should reject the rules if IDPH does not withdraw them.
See pointers for Writing Letters to Legislators below.
See list of JCAR members below.
To send an email to all JCAR members, please copy and paste the below email addresses into the "to" field of your email:
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
| |Talking Points
- If it's not broken, don't fix it. The proposed regulations are a solution in search of a problem. There have been no cases of foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to Illinois raw milk producers going at least as far back as 1998 if not further back. The state policy of allowing unlicensed on-farm sales of raw milk has been in existence for over thirty years and has worked well.
- The regulations will hurt the local economy. A number of Illinois raw milk producers have indicated that if the regulations go into effect, they will either quit the dairy business or go underground and continue to sell without the license required by the regulations. The net effect will be that access to locally produced raw milk will not be as great, causing consumers to spend more of their food dollars on out-of-state sources.
- This is a freedom of choice issue. If consumers want to buy raw milk from an unlicensed producer, that should be their prerogative. IDPH doesn't need to be protecting consumers from themselves, especially with the Illinois producers' strong track record for safety.
- Tell IDPH why raw milk matters. Let them know how consuming raw milk obtained from raw milk producers has benefited your health and the health of your family.
Additional Talking Points for JCAR only:
- Illinois law and policy on raw milk production and sales should be made in Springfield not Washington, D.C. FDA, the most anti-raw milk agency in the country, funded the dairy workgroup that drafted the proposed rules; an FDA official was on that workgroup and stated that FDA considers all raw milk potentially adulterated.
- The proposed rules would place regulation with an agency that was complicit in an attempt to ban raw milk in the state legislature earlier this year. In March, a consortium of county health departments tacked on an amendment to ban raw milk sales in a bogus bill to amend the Access to Restrooms Act (i.e., changing "the" to "the"). IDPH knew of the effort but was complicit in its silence by not trying to stop the county health departments when it had the chance to do so. This happened just a few months after raw milk producers and consumers worked in good faith with IDPH to draft reasonable regulations governing raw milk sales and production in Illinois.
| |More Information The Dairy Group Committee, a subcommittee of the Food Safety Advisory Committee (FSAC), drafted the proposed rules. FSAC, which provides advice on food safety matters to IDPH, is not mandated by statute but is supported through a grant by FDA, the most anti-raw milk government agency in the U.S. For a time, raw milk producers and consumers were on the subcommittee but raw milk proponents were only on the committee to give the appearance that there was a consensus on the drafted rules. IDPH officials and people from the dairy industry controlled the subcommittee and ignored all recommendations for the rules submitted by the raw milk producers and consumers.
The proposed rules actually contain a statement by IDPH denigrating the product it is supposed to be objectively regulating, a statement that has nothing to do with any actual requirements in the proposed regulations.
IDPH's propaganda missive reads:
The consumption of raw milk increases the risk of foodborne illness because the milk may contain harmful organisms (bacteria, parasites, etc.). Clinical and epidemiological studies have established a direct association between gastrointestinal illness and the consumption of raw milk. Proper pasteurization of raw milk is the only proven, reliable method to decrease the amount of harmful organisms to levels safe for human consumption.
Outside of this gratuitous shot that has no place in any law, the proposed regulations also include the following provisions for raw milk producers:
- A producer with even just one cow or goat would be required to have a permit and would be subject to regular inspections and testing.
- Prohibiting unlicensed producers from giving away milk to guests at their farms.
- Prohibiting herdshares and the distribution of raw milk through community subscription agriculture (CSAs) unless the producer is in compliance with all requirements for Grade A dairies which produce raw milk for pasteurization - a financially impossible standard to meet for just about all shareholder and CSA dairies. Even if a dairy could afford to meet the Grade A standards, it could still only distribute to shareholders and CSA members on the farm. IDPH has issued the herdshare regulation despite Illinois statute recognizing the legality of dairy livestock boarding agreements.
- Subjecting to zoning restrictions those farms that distribute raw milk to shareholders and CSA members at a farm that is "within an incorporated area of a municipality, within 1.5 miles of an incorporated municipality, or within an unincorporated urban area." What this has to do with protecting the public health is anyone's guess.
- Prohibiting shareholders and CSA members from paying farmers at refrigerators containing raw milk. Refrigerators would be included in the definition of "receiving stations" and, under the proposed rules, monetary transactions are prohibited at receiving stations.
- A number of sanitary standards in the regulation can be arbitrarily applied against producers to shut them down when there is no threat to public health; for example: "the flanks, udders, bellies and tail of all lactating dairy animals shall be free from visible dirt." and "all milking equipment shall be stored in a dust-tight room..."
- IDPH is intruding in the farmer-consumer relationship by requiring farmers to maintain records of each transaction with the customer name and address, to issue "Department approved consumer awareness information with each sale or transaction", and to provide "instructions for the consumer to notify the local health department for the area in which the consumer resides of a consumer complaint or suspected foodborne illness." Are producers of any other foods required to do all this?
On October 20, the first 45-day notice period ends and the Joint Committee on Administrative Review (JCAR) will begin its review of the proposed regulations.
Stay tuned for future alerts. For updates, please check the Illinois Alliance for Raw Milk facebook page and this webpage.
Read FDA Driving Illinois Raw Milk Regulations
| |Writing a Letter to Your Legislator
In order to write a letter that will have an impact on your legislator:
- Use your own words. Legislators don't pay attention to form letters.
- Identify yourself. Let him/her know you are one of his/her constituents.
- Be brief. Keep it to one page.
- Be specific. Give detailed background information.
- Be logical. Support your arguments and do not just use emotions.
- Please do NOT include farmer or farm names in order to protect farmer identities.
1st Paragraph: Introduce yourself and state your purpose (that you do not support regulations on raw milk), and specifically mention what you are concerned about (Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products (77 Ill. Adm. Code 775), Published 9/5/2014. Illinois Register Citation 38 Ill. Reg. 18346). Specifically state this info so the legislator/agency can refer to what you are informing them.
2nd Paragraph: Explain why you do not support the regulations.
Examples may include [also see Talking Points]:
- the regulations hinder peoples' ability to consume raw milk and infringes on their right to choose what they can or cannot eat
- the regulations are detrimental to Illinois farmers and the economy as they would put raw milk producers out of business due to costs associated with meeting restrictions and gaining a Grade A permit. Raw milk would be sold on the black market via coming in from out of state.
- personal health benefits
- the regulations address a safety issue that does not exist
3rd Paragraph: Explain how it affects you, your community, and/or state through stories/examples (may refer to bullet points above)
- State what you would like the legislator/agency to do (a call to action) and ask for follow up
- When writing to a legislator, you may ask him/her to be willing to sponsor a bill to repeal the regulations if enacted or to vote against raw milk regulations
- Urge your personal legislators to contact members of JCAR and tell them to reject IDPH's raw milk regulations
- Urge JCAR members to reject the regulations
- Request a hearing for the raw milk regulations (if nothing else make sure you do this one!)
5th Paragraph: Thank the legislator for his/her time.
Sign off: Sincerely,
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit [EIN 20-8605130], defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and artisan food producers while protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods. Learn more About Us or read the FTCLDF 2013 Summary. Donations to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund are always appreciated though not tax-deductible. Prefer to make a tax-deductible donation? Contact us by email at [email protected] or call 703-208-FARM (3276).
Please forward this alert to others who are concerned about protecting locally-sourced nutrient-dense foods and preserving sustainable small family farms and artisan food producers as well as defending the rights to sell and to access the foods of one's choice from the source of one's choice.