A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

2 August 2017 — 1738 mdt

Is the distribution of raw milk now legal in Montana?

Rep. Nancy Ballance’s (R-Hamilton) bill (HB-325) to legalize the sale of raw milk in Montana died in the MT Senate on 11 April 2017. But the anti-pasteurization movement is alive and well in Montana — and through the office of State Auditor Matt Rosendale, it may have found a way to legalize the distribution of raw milk in Montana despite the failure of Ballance’s bill.

Yesterday, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund reported:

Montana residents can now get legal access to raw milk through purchasing securities, giving them ownership interest in a dairy animal or dairy animals. Dairy farmers wanting to sell stock in their animals need to obtain an exemption from the state securities registration requirement; the farmers fill out an application for the exemption with the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (OCSI). Please do not contact OCSI. [Bold italic in original.]

If you want to contact OSCI, here’s the direct link: http://csimt.gov/securities/.

Apparently Montana’s Department of Livestock may not challenge Rosendale’s circumvention of the legislature, and the will of Montana’s citizens:

During recent communications with OCSI officials, DOL leadership indicated it would honor the exemptions, changing its prior policy. DOL would still have oversight over raw milk producers operating under the exemption. FTCLDF member Chris Rosenau was instrumental in forging the breakthrough on the DOL policy. Rosenau has led the effort to pass a raw milk bill the last three legislative sessions in Montana. OCSI limits stock offerings to ownership in four cows with 25 solicitations (meaning a maximum of 25 stockholders) per offering. It is not clear at this point how many goats could be included in an offering, but the number is probably around the same as for cows.

DOL will likely continue to regard the typical herd share arrangements existing in Montana (and many other states) as illegal even though Montana law provides a strong argument for their legality.

Rosenau, who has spent thousands of uncompensated hours working for a change in the state raw milk laws, regards the new DOL policy as a foot in the door and a step towards expanding raw milk access in the state. She plans on working with legislators to introduce another raw milk bill in the next legislative session.

FTCLDF drafted documents for the farmer member mentioned earlier who successfully obtained the exemption in 2016. Montana dairy farmers interested in applying for the exemption can contact us. Again, please do not contact OCSI. [Contact link in original.]

The raw milk lawyers may be looking for a test case through which they can seek a court’s blessing of this securities scheme.

I’ll give Rosenau and her allies credit for tenacity. Like the Taliban, like the Affordable Care Act hating Republican U.S. Senators, they rebound from each defeat, demanding that the legislature legalize the sale of raw milk, and attacking the scientific authority of the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of whom consider raw milk too dangerous for human consumption.

In the last three Montana legislative sessions, Rosenau, et al, have bamboozled the MT House of Representatives into approving raw milk legalization bills, expert testimony to the contrary not withstanding. The MT Senate, fortunately, has killed all of the bills, thus saving Montana’s citizens from the political indulgences and cowardices of huge majorities of the MT House.

The effort to legalize the sale and distribution of raw milk in Montana is a rejection of science and a frontal assault on our system of public health. It it succeeds, raw milk will sicken people, and may kill some.

So will repealing or gutting the ACA. Rosendale supports that. Ergo, it’s no surprise to learn that his agency apparently has joined hands with the raw milk zealots who are hellbent on destroying an effective public health system.