Update 2-25-2021 - HB 1385 on administrative rules died on the House Floor today 28-66. There was a lot of misinformation during the discussion, but ultimately, the majority didn't want to buck the Attorney General.
HB 1244 - the raw milk bill also died 5-89 with even the sponsors voting against it. The prime sponsor had gone to the House Ag Committee and requested they kill the bill because the Department of Ag would have the power to regulate raw milk producers to the point that it would be harmful to the dairy producer. This leaves the path open for a good raw milk sales bill in a few years, plus leaves the herd share program as is.
HB 1322 - the second administrative rules bill also died on the House floor. You can read more about this bill below.
Here are the bills we watched during the 2021 Session:
House Bills 1322 and 1385 are both in the Judiciary Committee and deal with changing the law on Administrative Rules so that, when the Attorney General is reviewing proposed rules, that person must consider whether the Legislature has rejected bills which were substantially the same as the proposed rules. Had either of these bills been law, the Department of Health would not have been able to convince the Administrative Rules committee to support their rulemaking.
Both of these Administrative Rules bills had hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. The Attorney General sent down testimony against the bills. They thought it was too difficult to use failed legislation to help determine legislative intent.
The committee definitely favored 1385, though they sent it to the floor without recommendation.
RAW MILK BILL
House Bill 1244 would allow the direct sale of raw milk from producers to consumers. While this bill was introduced by strong supporters of food freedom; it's initial version is very limiting. First, it only pertains to sales of cow milk; though we have many small goat dairies in the state and even a few dairy sheep. Secondly, the bill requires producers to be licensed. This puts raw milk producers under the section of Century Code that falls under Department of Agriculture rules.
The bill would still allow raw milk to be sold via shares, which is currently the only way to legally transfer raw milk for human consumption in our state.
As a practical matter - any producer without the facilities to sell milk to a processor (concrete floors, hot and cold running water, separate septic system for the barn, etc.) would not be able to sell milk under HB 1244. That will exclude the vast majority of the dairy operations who currently sell raw milk via shares. For that reason, ND Food Freedom will take a neutral position on this legislation.
Read the Ag Department's rules for licensed dairy farms here.
The committee recommended Do NOT Pass 13-0.