Tell Committee to Vote YES on Senator Niceley’s Amendment to SB 1123
Senate Bill 15 (SB 15), legislation that would have banned herdshares in Tennessee is dead, but that bill’s sponsor, Sen. Richard Briggs, is still looking to impose requirements on herdshare farmers and is sponsoring a bill, Senate Bill 1123 (SB 1123), that would do just that. SB 1123 cannot pass into law this session because a House companion bill was withdrawn from consideration, but Sen. Briggs is looking to gain momentum for the legislation so it will pass next session.
The bill would tread on the privacy of shareholders and saddle the herdshare farmers with requirements that do not improve the public health. If the bill with this language were to pass, the number of herdshares in Tennessee could decline substantially.
The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will meet Tuesday, April 9, at 1:00 p.m. to consider SB 1123. At that time, Sen. Frank Niceley will be introducing an amendment to substitute for the existing bill that respects the private contractual nature of herdshare agreements while providing incentives that promote health and safety. See more information after Talking Points.
ACTION TO TAKE
1. CALL and/or email the Committee members asking them to “Support Niceley’s Amendment to SB 1123”. See contact details for members at the end. Add any Talking Points from below.
You may tap each email address of the committee members or copy/paste the entire to block to email the whole committee:
<firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <Sen.Raumesh.Akbari@capitol.tn.gov>; <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>
2. ATTEND the hearing on SB 1123 that is taking place at the Cordell Hull Building, Senate Hearing Room I at 1:00 p.m. Central, Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
Cordell Hull Building
Senate Hearing Room I
425 5th Avenue N.
Nashville, TN 37243 (directions)
1. The laws are already in place for public health officials to address suspected raw milk contamination in a timely and competent manner.
2. Public health officials can obtain warrants to search a farm and access records rapidly if necessary.
3. Herdshare agreements are private contractual arrangements and are not under the government’s jurisdiction. Sen. Niceley’s amendment respects the right to private contract and the private property rights involved with herdshares while providing incentives that could lead to improvements in health and safety.
4. There is a high degree of traceability and transparency with herdshare operations; if there is a suspected foodborne illness outbreak, the changes SB 1123 proposes aren’t necessary.
5. The recordkeeping and other requirements imposed on herdshares could lead to dairies shutting down their herdshare operations; Tennessee is losing far too many dairies as it is without having this happen.
As currently written, SB 1123 would require, among other things:
— All herdshare farmers must register with the state department of agriculture and to pay all fees related to taking a safe milk handling course provided by the University of Tennessee which would be mandatory to be eligible to register. Herdshare farmers would have to take this course every two years.
— Those with a partial ownership interest in any dairy animal(s) must sign a warning form annually that “describes the risks associated with consuming milk from a hooved mammal without pasteurization.” They must also have a warning label on their own property—on each container of milk they receive through the herdshare agreement, specifying the risks of various pathogens as well as identifying the risks associated with children consuming raw milk.
— Herdshare farmers must keep records of all animal owner contact information (mailing address, phone and email, if applicable), and must also keep records of each raw milk distribution made to the owners; the farmers must turn these records over to the department of agriculture upon request—a practice many animal owners deem an invasion of privacy. There would be civil penalties (e.g., fines) for violations of any of these requirements.
Both the department of agriculture and the department of health would have the power to issue regulations implementing all the requirements listed in SB 1123.
Sen. Niceley’s amendment respects the private nature of herdshare arrangements while providing incentives for herdshare farmers to take a safe milk course offered by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service and to contact animal owners if raw milk contamination is suspected. For herdshare farmers taking those two steps, Sen. Niceley’s amendment would off funding through the University of Tenness Cooperative Agricultural Extension to enable farmers to obtain milk processing and dairy equipment that promotes public health.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS – Senate Commerce and Labor
Staffers are listed below since you will likely speak to them when you call.
Paul Bailey (R-15) – Chair
Staff: Shea Robbins, Brandy Foust
Art Swann (R-2) – 1st Vice Chair
Staff: Staff Farmer
Jon Lundberg (R-4) – 2nd Vice Chair
Staff: Amy Darnall
Raumesh Akbari (D-29)
Staff: Brittney Anthony, Denise Sims
Dolores R. Gresham (R-26)
Staff: Chase Ingle, Michael Maren
Jack Johnson (R-23)
Staff: Emily Haas, Luke Gustafson, Ashley Harbin
Frank S. Niceley (R-8)
Staff: Suzanne Schultz
Steve Southerland (R-1)
Staff: Hannah Ramey, Callan Wilkerson
Bo Watson (R-11)
Staff: Chrissy Freeland, John Kerr. Tres Wittum