by David Ramsey
Channeling Willie Nelson, Rep. Randy Alexander and Rep. Nate Bell united hippies and rednecks with their bill to allow the limited sale of raw milk. The bill failed by a roll-call vote in the House Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committee. Looks like a mix of Democrats and Republicans among the yeas and the nays.
Much like the Health Department testimony in Sen. Missy Irving's body modification bill, there was apparently no data or research at all presented about the health risks. That's not to say that there aren't risks, but it seems to me that telling adults that they can't make choices and evaluate risks for themselves is a high bar to clear, and if reports of the testimony are accurate, no one really tried. Also worth noting that there was testimony from a dairy industry rep. That sounds like pure rent-seeking to me. I don't know a huge amount about this issue beyond a few magazine articles, but this seems like another area in which regulation and clear information for consumers would be more effective than mindless prohibition.
Oh, in the coalition supporting the bill, forgot to mention foodies! Lee Richardson, one of our favorite chefs in Arkansas, testified to the importance of raw milk in culinary use, including the fact that some lactose intolerant folks are able to consume it.
I guess I'll also mention that it was tweeting with Bell about this bill that sparked his interest in fighting against Sen. Irvin's unnecessary, ineffective, and bullying SB387. "It's probably not a good idea to tattoo someone w/raw milk. It's also none of my business if u want one," he tweeted, and once he read the bill decided that he didn't want the legislature telling adults what to do in tattoo shops any more than he wanted the legislature deciding what kind of milk he could drink.
There are issues that liberals and libertarians can find common ground on, and unless I'm missing something, this seems to be a good one.
Now if we can just convince some of the raw milkers to oppose a certain nonsensical and pernicious federal policy. Might need Willie Nelson's help on that...