The Texas Department of State Health Services is working on new rules Governing milk and dairy products in Texas. It is important that everyone who cares about having access to raw milk and farmstead cheeses speak up during this process!
For several years, raw milk farmers in Texas have struggled with the restriction that raw milk may be sold directly to the consumer “only at the point of production, I.e. At the farm.” The draft rules would make it even harder, by requiring that the farmer “offer for sale and distribute raw milk directly to the final consumer only at the point of production, I.e. At the farm.” This new provision would prevent people from picking up their milk through carpools, agent arrangements, etc. The draft rules also require raw milk farmers to turn over a list of their customers to the government, and prevent people from even possessing raw milk that is not labeled and graded outside of their home.
The draft rules also create extensive permitting and regulatory burdens on family farms making farmstead cheeses. Currently, small-scale cheesemakers are required to have a single food manufacturing permit, but the draft rule would require two permits, each with higher fees, and expensive infrastructure and equipment.
The draft rules are available at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/milk/draft.shtm
The deadline for submitting comments on the draft rule is March 6, 2009. Please note that the agency plans to formally propose rules in April, so this is just Round One!! This is a chance to speak up relatively early in the process, which is the best time to make real changes.
Send your comments via email to Gene.Wright (at) dshs.state.tx.us or by regular mail to Gene Wright, Manager, Milk and Dairy Group, Texas Department of State Health Services, P.O. Box 149347 MC 1987, Austin, Texas 78714-9347.