March 22, 2005
Compiled by Pete Kennedy
This compilation was performed by Pete Kennedy, a lawyer who volunteered his services to us for this purpose.
An Overview of U.S. State Milk Laws
In 1924, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), a branch of the Food and Drug Administration, developed the Standard Milk Ordinance, known today as the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO). This is a model regulation helping states and municipalities have an effective program to prevent milk borne disease. The PMO contains provisions governing the production, processing, packaging and sale of Grade “A” milk and milk products. It is the basic standard used in the Voluntary Cooperative State -USPHS/FDA Program for the Certification of Interstate Milk Shippers, a program all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U. S. Territories participate in.
Forty-six of the 50 have adopted most or all of the PMO for their own milk safety laws with those states not adopting it passing laws that are similar. California, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland have not adopted the PMO.
Section 9 of the PMO states in part that, “only Grade “A” pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized or aseptically processed milk and milk products shall be sold to the final consumer, to restaurants, soda fountains, grocery stores or similar establishments.” In spite of 46 states adopting the PMO, it is at least technically possible at the present time to legally sell or distribute raw milk for human consumption in 32 states.
States legalizing raw milk sales or distribution have done so through:
Statute. Any state statute conflicting with Section 9 of the PMO overrides it.
Administrative rule or regulation. Any state regulation conflicting with Section 9 of the PMO overrides it.
Policy. This would include cowshare programs in states where even though there is a prohibition on the sale of raw milk, state regulatory agencies have made a policy decision not to shut down cowshare programs they know of that comply with state guidelines. State policy sometimes does conflict with and override state statutes, administrative rules or other written guidelines in the regulation of milk and milk products.
Raw milk sales for animal consumption are at least potentially legal in all states but one under commercial feed licensing laws. Except for Michigan, not a single state law expressly prohibits the sale of raw milk for animal consumption. The variables are the states’ willingness to grant licenses to producers of raw milk for animal feed and how strictly state agencies would monitor licensees to make sure that raw milk sales did only go for animal consumption. The PMO regulations do not apply to the sale of raw milk for animal feed.
Many states permitting the sale of raw milk for human consumption prohibit the sale of most or all raw milk products. With yogurt providing the highest profit margins of any raw dairy product, the benefits to farmers of expanding state legalization of raw milk to include raw milk products are obvious. Butter and cheese fall outside the PMO’s definition of milk products. They are manufactured milk products, not Grade “A” milk products, and are generally regulated under a state’s dairy manufacturing laws. Farmers can typically sell raw cheese (at least raw cheese produced according to federal guidelines) if they have obtained a manufacturing plant license.
The state milk law summaries are based on research of the state statutory and administrative codes and conversations with farmers and state dairy officials. Any corrections are welcome.
Source:Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, 2003 Revision.
Link to raw milk state law summaries:http://www.realmilk.com/milk-laws-1.html