Bill would legalize unpasteurized ‘raw’ milk sales in Iowa

DES MOINES — A bill eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate would legalize the sale of raw milk at dairy farms.

Esther Arkfeld of Harlan says when she lived in another state, she bought raw milk rather than formula for her baby, but found out when she moved to Iowa five years ago it was illegal here. “How is it that in the 21st century in a country where 45 of the 50 states allow the sale of raw milk Iowa — a state that prides itself on agriculture, farming and freedom — is the only Midwest state to criminalized it?” she asks.

Raw milk enthusiasts like Arkfeld says unpasteurized milk tastes better and has more nutrients. Critics say raw milk has more bacteria and is dangerous for pregnant women. The diary industry opposes the bill.

Justin LeVan is the secretary of  the Iowa Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy businesses.  “As soon as there’s an outbreak of any kind, the businesses in Iowa will suffer and milk sales will go down whether it’s associated with raw milk or not.”

Under the senate bill it still would be illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at restaurants and farmers markets, but raw milk and other products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream that are made with unpasteurized milk could be sold legally at the dairy where it’s processed.

The Senate approved similar legislation a year ago, but bills to legalize raw milk sales have never been considered in the Iowa House.