Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) is proposing a bill to remove market restrictions governing whether dairy farmers may sell unpasteurized milk, commonly referred to as raw milk.
Currently, Texas law prohibits the sale of raw milk anywhere except the farm on which it was produced.
‘It’s a Simple Bill’
Flynn says his bill, House Bill 57, would have a straightforward benefit for consumers and farmers.
“It’s a simple bill,” Flynn said. “It is a pure and simple free-enterprise system. If you have a product that is legal, you should be able to sell it. I think it’s kind of ridiculous, the conversations that have come up, and I’m very unhappy with the state agencies that have put roadblocks in the way of farmers and the consumers wanting the product.”
Flynn says the state government should allow consumers to have the products they want.
“It’s a legal product; we just want to consumers to be able to buy it at a farmers’ market,” Flynn said. “The fact is, it’s a legal product, there’s a demand for it, and if we believe Texas believes in free enterprise, it should be a no-brainer to go ahead and allow people to sell it at farmers’ markets.”
Restrictions Benefit Big Companies
Jayson Lusk, an economics professor in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, says current Texas laws regulating raw milk effectively benefit large milk producers at the expense of small farmers.
“I think this is an example of the kinds of laws that are often implemented to protect public safety and may be motivated by good intentions, but [they] often will benefit large producers in the market,” Lusk said. “Sometimes, these laws have the effect of keeping out competition from smaller producers and sellers. There are many examples of this kind of thing.”
Lusk says Flynn’s bill would help consumers make educated decisions about their purchases.
“It’s a little bit of a liberalization of the raw milk laws, making raw milk more available to consumers and allowing producers to sell that milk in more locations than they currently are,” Lusk said. “It’s also providing some warning to consumers; it’s coupled with a labeling policy that would highlight some of the risks of consuming raw milk.”