There has been a lot of confusion about the situation in California and several members emailed us after contacting the California Assembly Appropriations
Committee, in response to our last update, to tell us that the favorable raw milk bill AB 1604 was not on the docket as we had reported.
Unbeknownst to us, Assemblywoman Parra, the sponsor of AB 1604, pulled the bill before it went to the Appropriations Committee. Nicole got the message that the bill would be defeated because of the concerted backdoor effort by Big Dairy and the medical society lobby interests.
AB 1604 is now dead and AB 1735, which stipulates a virtually un-achievable coliform level, remains in full force and effect. However, Nicole Parra has formed a “blue ribbon” panel to research the issue of raw milk coliforms and pathogens and it sounds like it will be stacked with pro-raw milk advocates and scientists. The blue ribbon committee will then make a recommendation to the Assembly Agriculture Committee about standards for a new raw milk bill that will protect California raw milk producers and consumers.
After 600 passionate raw milk consumers filled the assembly Ag Committee chambers, AB 1604 standards became a political “hot button.” In order to pass the Assembly and the Senate, more research needed to be done. Nicole Parra has promised to introduce a raw milk bill that incorporates the recommendations of the blue ribbon committee.
Meanwhile, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CFDA) came out to Organic Pastures last week on January 24th and pulled a sample from the bulk tank and from a bottle. The dairy met the bacteria limit in the bulk tank with an SPC of 2000 and coliforms of 8 but failed the test at the bottle. However, some of the samples they took from creamery inventory were from older “returned” product that was intended to be fed to their calves. Even though the calf milk area is labeled as such, the creamery is now locking that product behind a chain link cage to prohibit this from happening again.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is preparing legal action in the light of these developments. We will keep you posted as events unfold.
Raw milk continues to be sold from both Claravale and Organic Pastures Dairy. The next possible CDFA test will occur in late February. The important thing to understand is that a producer must fail three out of five tests. And then…a degrade just stops production for less than two days. During that period, test samples can then clear the milk for continued sales and then the producer is back to the clean plate of zero out of five and can fail another three times and that takes another three months. What is happening is a game of bacterial cat and mouse with your food. It is harassment of your California raw milk producers. Coliforms are beneficial bacteria and the tests mean literally nothing except to confirm that we are being harassed.
This is a fight that will take time to win right. More to come very soon.