Dairies in Idaho could expand raw milk operations under legislation approved by the Idaho Senate Monday.
The new regulations would allow dairies to keep seven cows or 15 goats or sheep in an animal sharing agreement. “It allows people to legally consume their own milk in a herd share,” said Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, who sponsored the legislation. Farms or dairies with more than three cows or seven goats or sheep would need to submit their raw milk to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) to test for bacteria and somatic cells, which can indicate infections in animals’ mammary glands. Selling raw milk at farmers markets or to grocery stores or restaurants would still be illegal.
The legislation, headed to the governor’s desk, would have a seven-cow limit for raw milk rather than a three-cow limit in a rule proposed by ISDA. “The rules that were proposed were an utter disaster,” said Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise.
Unpasteurized raw milk can contain harmful bacteria, but raw milk advocates say heating milk to high temperatures destroys vitamins and healthy enzymes.