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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.616

Introduced by Representatives Pellett of Chester, Hutchinson of Randolph, Ancel of Calais, Anderson of Montpelier, Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Botzow of Pownal, Cheney of Norwich, Clarkson of Woodstock, Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Davis of Washington, Devereux of Mount Holly, Donaghy of Poultney, Donahue of Northfield, Dostis of Waterbury, Edwards of Brattleboro, Emmons of Springfield, Evans of Essex, Fallar of Tinmouth, Fisher of Lincoln, Frank of Underhill, French of Randolph, Gilbert of Fairfax, Haas of Rochester, Head of S. Burlington, Heath of Westford, Helm of Castleton, Hosford of Waitsfield, Howard of Rutland City, Howrigan of Fairfield, Hube of Londonderry, Jewett of Ripton, Johnson of South Hero, Kilmartin of Newport City, Kitzmiller of Montpelier, Klein of East Montpelier, Komline of Dorset, Larson of Burlington, Lenes of Shelburne, Leriche of Hardwick, Lippert of Hinesburg, Lorber of Burlington, Manwaring of Wilmington, Marek of Newfane, Martin of Springfield, Martin of Wolcott, Masland of Thetford, McCullough of Williston, Milkey of Brattleboro, Miller of Shaftsbury, Morley of Barton, Mrowicki of Putney, Nease of Johnson, Nuovo of Middlebury, Obuchowski of Rockingham, Orr of Charlotte, Pearson of Burlington, Peltz of Woodbury, Potter of Clarendon, Randall of Troy, Rodgers of Glover, Shand of Weathersfield, Sharpe of Bristol, Smith of Morristown, Sweaney of Windsor, Trombley of Grand Isle and Weston of Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Agriculture; dairy operations; sale of unpasteurized milk

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to provide for the certification of dairy farmers to allow unlimited direct sales of unpasteurized milk.

AN ACT RELATING TO FARM-FRESH MILK

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  SHORT TITLE

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Farm-Fresh Milk Restoration Act of 2008.

Sec. 2.  GOAL; INTENT

The general assembly declares its goal to support programs and policies that foster the development of a diversified agricultural sector that:

(1)  Offers farmers an opportunity to sell their products to a marketplace that pays them a reasonable rate of return for their labor and capital investments;

(2)  Offers the public nutritious and safe foods;

(3)  Produces, markets, and distributes agricultural products in a sustainable manner that conserves energy and the environment;

(4)  Provides economic stability to preserve the necessary infrastructure of the agricultural industry;

(5)  Expands the market opportunities for agricultural products;

(6)  Enables agricultural operations of diverse sizes and producing a wide array of products to prosper in Vermont and contribute to the state and regional economy;

(7)  Assures continued stewardship of the land with respect for the environment and efficient use of energy.

Sec. 3.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  Commodity foods travel far, and most of the consumer dollar spent goes toward processing, transport, marketing, and packaging of these foods. Farmers receive only $0.10 for every consumer dollar spent in the commodity market.  Direct sales by the farmer to the consumer often provide the best return to the farm.  Sale of farm-fresh milk can yield as much as $10.00 per gallon for Vermont family farmers.

(2)  Locally grown food supports the local economy.  Farmers support the local economy by spending their money in the community and providing jobs and training for beginning farmers and farm workers.  Also, farmers keep land open and managed.  Providing Vermont farmers with additional income possibilities will help to keep farms viable in our state.

(3)  There is now a consumer demand for local products, and it is growing.  Vermont’s current rules on selling raw milk are restrictive, and Vermont farmers should be allowed to take advantage of the growing local market, which provides them with a stable income source.

(4)  Farmers who sell their products directly to consumers are very concerned with product safety and consumer health.  Farm-fresh milk farmers want to produce a safe, healthy product for direct sale to consumers and should be supported in their efforts by the state of Vermont.

(5)  The number of dairy farms in Vermont is decreasing, and it is difficult for young dairy farmers to get started.  The ability to sell products directly to consumers can break down the barriers to entry for new farmers and keep farmers in business because of the stable price and loyal customer base.

Sec. 4.  6 V.S.A. chapter 152 is added to read:

Chapter 152.  Sale of Unpasteurized Milk

§ 2775.  DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this chapter:

(1)  “Farm-fresh milk” is unpasteurized raw milk which conforms to the regulations and standards set forth in this chapter for the production and distribution directly from the farm to the end-user in the state of Vermont of unpasteurized milk and is sold by farm-fresh milk farmers.

(2)  A “farm-fresh milk farmer” (FFMF) is an individual farmer that has been certified by a local certification committee in accordance with this chapter to sell farm-fresh milk within the state of Vermont.

(3)  A “local certification committee” (LCC) is a committee composed of at least three dairy farmers, two consumers of farm-fresh milk, and one health care professional approved by the state certification board to carry out this chapter in a particular geographical area within the state of Vermont.

(4)  A “health care professional” is a person who is licensed in the state of Vermont to practice medicine, including medical doctors, naturopathic physicians, veterinarians, and osteopathic physicians.

(5)  “Prepurchased milk” is farm-fresh milk that is scheduled to be delivered to a customer.

§ 2776.  STATE CERTIFICATION BOARD

(a)  A state certification board (SCB) of six members is created for the purpose of carrying out the goals and purposes of this chapter and overseeing LLCs, which will have the authority to certify FFMFs for the sale of

farm-fresh milk in Vermont.  The members of the board shall be:

(1)  the state veterinarian ex officio;

(2)  two farmers selected jointly by the speaker of the house, the president pro tempore of the senate, and the governor who shall be:

(A)  for the initial appointment term of one year, two farmers who have sold unpasteurized milk in Vermont pursuant to 6 V.S.A. § 2723(3) for a period of at least three years; and

(B)  for the subsequent terms of three years, two other farmers who are or have been members of an LCC;

(3)  a member of the board of the Vermont grass farms association (VGFA), selected by the VGFA board initially for a term of two years; and

(4)  two members of the public from different regions of the state, selected by a majority vote of the four members first appointed.  The initial members shall meet within 30 days of the appointment of the board for the sole purpose of selecting the two public members.  The initial and subsequent terms for public members shall be three years;

(5)  all members shall serve for a term of three years, except in some  cases the initial appointees;

(6)  vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired portion of the term vacated;

(7)  each year, the SCB shall meet at least once. The state veterinarian shall be responsible for scheduling the first meeting.

(b)  The SCB shall:

(1)  Elect one of its members as chair and adopt appropriate rules to govern the time and place of its meetings, its rules of procedure, and its

record-keeping and other internal operations.

(2)  No later than June 30, 2009, adopt rules governing the creation and operation of LCCs, which shall certify FFMFs in accordance with this chapter. The rules shall include:

(A)  A process for an LCC to be formed and recognized by the SCB, including how an LCC will define its geographic coverage area so that no two LCCs serve the same area.

(B)  Record-keeping, inspection, and reporting requirements for the LCCs to the SCB, and how the LCCs will document compliance with this chapter and the rules adopted under this chapter.  LCCs shall inspect each farm at least two times each year.

(C)  Certification fees for FFMFs, to be paid to the LCCs.

(D)  Stipend amounts and mileage reimbursement rates for the LCC members for meetings and inspection tours and other related costs.

(E)  Procedures for collecting certification fees by the LCCs, as well as procedures for stipend payment, mileage reimbursement, and farmer assistance from these fees.

(F)  A procedure for ensuring that LCCs are carrying out their duties properly, including enforcement protocol for the SCB if an LCC is not carrying out its duties.

(G)  an enforcement procedure to be followed if an FFMF is found to be out of compliance with the standards.  The procedure shall include a notification, with a suggested schedule of compliance, to the FFMF and the SCB from the LCC.  The LCC will check with the FFMF to determine whether the schedule of compliance has been met and then report to the SCB.  After receiving the report, the SCB will determine whether enforcement action will be taken.

(H)  An application form and process for FFMFs to apply for certification and renew their certificates through the LCCs.

(I)  A plan for responding when a sample of milk tests positive for pathogens.  The LCC will be notified of the test result by the FFMF and the testing laboratory immediately upon receiving the information of the result. The LCC will then immediately notify the SCB.   The response plan will be implemented by the SCB and shall include procedures for the following:

(i)  inspection of the farm by the LCC within 48 hours of the notice;

(ii)  stopping the sale of milk from the FFMF until the milk is determined to be free of pathogens;

(iii)  notifying customers;

(iv)  any enforcement measures recommended by the LCC and deemed appropriate by the SCB; and

(v)  collecting the frozen milk samples from the FFMF and having them tested at a state-approved laboratory, as well as testing every day until the farmer’s milk is free from pathogens for three consecutive days, at which time sales may resume.

§ 2777.  PERMITS FOR PRODUCTION AND MARKETING OF

               FARM-FRESH MILK

(a)  Every person before engaging in the business of producing and marketing farm-fresh milk shall obtain a permit from the LCC designated by the SCB for that region.  Upon receipt of an application for a permit, the LCC shall inspect the applicant’s milking animals and the farm, facility, or other place of business from which milk is produced or distributed.  If the application meets the standards set forth in this chapter and the regulations promulgated by the SCB, a permit shall be issued for a period not to exceed one year and shall be renewable annually.

(b)  Notwithstanding any other provision of Vermont law, regulation, or federal regulation adopted by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets, a person holding a permit from an LCC who is not otherwise in violation of any regulation or standard set by the SCB and whose milk and farm or other production facility have passed the most recent inspection by the LCC for that region shall be authorized to:

(1)  sell unlimited quantities of farm-fresh milk directly from the FFMF to the end-user within the state of Vermont, but this authorization does not include resale;

(2)  advertise the sale of milk by hanging a sign on the farm property with the words “Certified Farm-Fresh Milk for Sale Here” or placing an advertisement with the words “Certified Farm-Fresh Milk for Sale” with contact information and the location of the farm, provided that such advertisement does not state or imply particular health benefits associated with farm-fresh milk; and

(3)  deliver prepurchased milk.  The customer must arrange with the FFMF prior to the delivery to pay for the milk in advance, either as a one-time purchase or through a subscription.

§ 2778.  STANDARDS

In order to be certified by an LCC, an FFMF shall demonstrate procedures and practices in place to meet the following standards:

(1)  Farm-fresh milk shall be bottled on the premises where produced.

(2)  Farm-fresh milk shall be sold in containers which have been filled by the FFMF, with the pouring lip completely protected from contamination, and which have been thoroughly cleaned in compliance with subdivisions (A)–(C) of this subdivision (2).

(A)  Containers shall be cleaned by the FFMF.  FFMFs may allow customers to clean their own containers only if each customer’s container is labeled with the customer’s name and address, and the customers always use their own containers.

(B)  Farm-fresh milk shall be cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours of finishing milking and so maintained until it is delivered to the consumer.

(C)  Farm-Fresh Milk shall be labeled as such, and the label shall contain:

(i)  the date the milk was obtained from the cow or goat;

(ii)  the name, address, zip code, and telephone number of the producing FFMF;

(iii)  the common name of the type of animal producing the milk or a picture of the animal;

(iv)  the words “Farm-Fresh Milk. not pasteurized.  Keep Refrigerated.”

(D)  Farm-fresh milk must be obtained from the milking animal by the FFMF who sells the milk or another regular worker on the farm.  In either case, the milker shall thoroughly wash and dry his or her hands before milking.  The milker shall examine each teat before milking and ensure that it is healthy, clean, and dry.  If a quarter or half section of the udder is compromised, each compromised section shall be milked separately, and that milk shall not be sold for human consumption.

(E)  Milking equipment shall be made of food-grade material and shall be thoroughly cleaned and air-dried after each use and sanitized before each use.

(F)  The milking area shall be kept free of manure.

(G)  Clean, dry bedding shall be provided at all times.

(H)  An FFMF shall have a health care plan for the animals producing farm-fresh milk.  This plan shall include provisions for the following:

(i)  A preventive health care plan;

(ii)  A sickness treatment plan;

(iii)  A feeding and grazing plan;

(iv)  A low stress environment.

(3)  An FFMF shall have the milk produced on that farm tested once per week in a state-approved laboratory for the following, and the results must be below these limits:

(A)  Total bacterial (aerobic) count: 15,000 cfu/ml (cows); 20,000 cfu/ml (goats);

(B)  Total coliform count: 10 cfu/ml (cows and goats);

(C)  Somatic cell count: 400,000/ml (cows); 750,000/ml (goats).

(4)  No FFMF shall sell milk which:

(A)  Contains any drug or drugs in excess of tolerances established by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Code of Federal Regulations;

(B)  Is contaminated, meaning milk that is unsaleable or unfit for human consumption following treatment of the animal with veterinary products, including antibiotics, which have withhold requirements, or treatment with medicines or insecticides not approved for use on dairy animals by the FDA or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or meaning adulterated milk, which means milk containing noxious, unwholesome, or deleterious material, preservative, drugs, or chemical in a quantity injurious to health;

(C)  Does not conform to the definition of the product; or

(D)  Is not produced, processed, or distributed according to the provisions of this chapter.

(5)  An FFMF shall also collect one composite sample of milk each day, and keep 14 days’ worth of samples frozen.

(6)  An FFMF shall keep the farm’s test result records for one year and shall provide them to the farm’s customers or the LCC if asked.

(7)  An FFMF shall provide each new customer with the following information:

(A)  The price that farm-fresh milk will be sold for and in what sizes it will be available;

(B)  Contact information for the FFMF;

(C)  Acceptable procedures for the customer to obtain milk from the farm;

(D)  Names and contact information for LCC members;

(E)  Procedures for arranging a farm visit upon customer request;

(F)  Procedures for obtaining milk test results from the FFMF upon request by the customer.

(8)  An FFMF shall have a list of all of its customers, including their telephone numbers or e-mail addresses.  In order to be certified, the FFMF shall describe his or her method of keeping this list up to date. The FFMF shall provide this list if asked by the LCC or the SCB.


§ 2779.  DELIVERY OF PREPURCHASED MILK

(a)  Delivery of farm-fresh milk shall be permitted within the state of Vermont:

(1)  Only to customers who have prepurchased milk from an FFMF;

(2)  Directly to customers at a prearranged location; or

(3)  To a predetermined common drop-off point that is outfitted with refrigerated storage.

(b)  A  certified FFMF may deliver certified farm-fresh milk, or contract with another individual to deliver milk to customers who have prepurchased the milk.  Before an FFMF may deliver farm-fresh milk to a customer, the following criteria shall be met:

(1)  The FFMF shall receive payment for the milk from the customer.

(2)  The FFMF shall have the customer’s contact information as provided for in this chapter.

(3)  The customer shall receive the information required by this chapter.

(c)  In order to deliver certified farm-fresh milk, an FFMF or the individual contracted to do the delivery shall ensure the following:

(1)  A customer list is posted at the drop-off location with the names of the customers to receive the milk.  Customers shall sign and date this list when they pick up their milk.  The FFMF shall keep these lists on file for one month.

(2)  The drop-off location shall have a sign indicating that the farm-fresh milk is for prepurchase customers only.

(3)  The drop-off location shall have refrigerated storage at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

(4)  During delivery, farm-fresh milk shall be protected from exposure to direct sunlight.

(5)  During delivery, farm-fresh milk shall be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower at all times.

(6)  The number of filled containers in the delivery vehicle and at the drop-off points shall match the number of containers indicated on the customer lists.

Sec. 5.  6 V.S.A. § 2723 is amended to read:

§ 2723.  EXEMPTIONS

Handlers' licenses shall not be required from the following persons:


(1)  Producers, except and farm-fresh milk farmers certified pursuant to chapter 152 of this title.  All other producers who sell fluid dairy products at retail in Vermont shall obtain handlers’ licenses.

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Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us