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

22 February 2017

Dave Fern one of 13 Dirty Democrats voting for raw milk

Update, 1600 MST. The bill was approved 69–30 on the third reading today. Six Democrats and one Republican changed their votes from the second reading, among them Rep. Amanda Curtis who changed her vote from Aye to Nay. Why she initially voted for the bill escapes me, but I thank her for voting against the bill on the third reading.


Rep. Dave Fern (D-Whitefish), one of the Flathead’s two Democrats in the legislature, joined with 58 Republicans to vote for HB-325, Rep. Nancy Ballance’s (R-Hamilton) bill to legalize selling raw milk — a proven dangerous substance — in Montana.

Rep. Zach Perry (D-Hungry Horse) voted against the bill.

Two other notable Democrats, Rep. Kelly McCarthy of Billings, and Amanda Curtis of Butte, both of whom seek the Democratic nomination to replace Ryan Zinke in the U.S. House, voted for the bill, joining Fern’s vote to ignore settled science and good public health policy. House minority leader Jennifer Eck also voted for the bill.

Only one Republican, Walt Sales, voted against the bill.

Here are the 13 Dirty Democrats who voted to let parents feed unpasteurized milk, a known health hazard, to their defenseless children:


On 9 February, as the committee hearing on HB-325 approached, I wrote:

If history is any guide, dozens of earnest, self-confident, advocates of raw milk will stand before the microphone, extolling the virtues of drinking untreated milk, rejecting science, and quoting crackpot after crackpot. Some will attempt to frame the issue as a question of food freedom.

These testifiers and their friends already have flooded legislators with messages and phone calls, demanding that they vote for the bill.

What also hasn’t changed is that pasteurization is settled science — long settled science. It’s what high school students learn in every competently taught course on biology.

Furthermore, pasteurized milk is a tremendous public health success. Laws requiring pasteurizing milk are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and thousands of responsible scientists and health care professionals.

Legislators — all of whom presumably paid attention when pasteurization was discussed in their high school biology classes — have a duty to recognize that pasteurization is settled science and good public policy no matter how many lovers of untreated milk testify in support of HB-325, and no matter how many calls and letters praising raw milk they receive.

This is a public health issue. It is not a food freedom issue.

When Democratic legislators ignore science and vote as food freedom crackpots implore them to vote, they undermine the Democratic Party’s claim to be the reality based political party that grounds public policy in science and common sense. Shame on them.