August 21, 2014

Ruling in federal raw milk case may bring boost for Nebraska producers

Nebraskans who sell raw milk may see a boost in out-of-state business.

A federal judge in Sioux City, Iowa, has thrown out a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on bringing unpasteurized raw milk across state lines.

Still, a lawyer for two Iowans involved in the case says he’s still pleased with the outcome. Attorney Garry Davis of Columbus, Ohio, says the case clears up some of the rules for people who buy raw milk.

“We lost the battle but we won the war. Our case was dismissed, by now we have FDA on record and we have a judge agreeing with FDA that this regulation is unenforceable, and FDA has no intention of enforcing it against an individual,” according to Davis.

The agency told the judge it is focusing enforcement of the interstate ban on distributors and producers, not individuals who buy the raw milk for their personal use.

The suit included two Iowa women, Laurie Donnelly of Sloan and Jennifer Allen of Council Bluffs. Raw milk sales are illegal in Iowa.

Davis says the federal agency’s statement is a win for Donnelly, Allen, and others who want raw milk but can’t legally buy it in Iowa.

“So those people in Iowa can go to Nebraska — where it’s legal to buy and sell raw milk — they can buy raw milk in Nebraska and then go back into Iowa and consume it in Iowa, and they will not be sued by FDA,” Davis explains.

The FDA says unpasteurized milk is unsafe because of the potential for exposure to dangerous bacteria. Advocates say they prefer its flavor and believe it offers health benefits.