An Assembly panel on Thursday approved a measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner to aid New Jersey farmers by allowing for the sale of raw milk.
“Currently hundreds of families are crossing our border into other states to purchase raw milk at farms and ‘drop sites’ just outside New Jersey,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “I believe that this is a consumer choice issue, a dairy farm revitalization bill, a jobs creation bill, and an open space bill all rolled into one piece of legislation.”
The bill (A-743) would create a permit program through the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to allow for the sale of raw milk in New Jersey. The legislation would require the testing of cows intended to be used for the production of raw milk, with ongoing testing as necessary. The permit holder would also be required to conduct tests to measure the levels of certain bacteria and pathogens in the raw milk produced. The bill also stipulates that no growth hormones can be used in the process of producing raw milk.
Currently, raw milk is sold at retail stores in ten states and fifteen states permit farms to sell it directly to consumers. Two neighboring states – Pennsylvania and New York – both sell raw milk. Dairy farms in New Jersey account for roughly four percent of milk consumption with 96 percent currently being imported from farms outside the state.
“With hundreds of families drinking hundreds of gallons of raw milk a year, at roughly $7 a gallon, this legislation will bring a welcome boost of revenue to New Jersey farmers and our economy,” added Wagner.
The bill was released by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.