BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The road to legalizing the sale of raw milk in Louisiana once again hit a dead end for a third year in a row.
After successfully making it through the Senate, a House committee killed SB 29 Thursday with the committee chairman casting the tie-breaking vote, 8-7.
The debate over raw milk was standing room only in the House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development. The bill drew so much attention that officials had to open an overflow room.
"There's no way in this world that I would give one of my children raw milk nor my grandchildren," said Joy Womack, a dairy farmer in East Baton Rouge Parish.
St. Francisville resident James Clyde along with his nine children were a part of the large crowd. Clyde said he believes raw milk to be a healthier option for his kids.
"We had to start smuggling raw milk out of Mississippi when we first moved here," Clyde said.
In Louisiana, drinking raw milk is perfectly legal, but selling it is a different story.
Louisiana is currently just one of a handful of states that still outlaws the sale of unpasteurized milk. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, would change that.
"Don't tread on me, get out of my hair government, and let me buy some milk from my neighbor," LaFleur said.
However, the health benefits of raw milk were debated. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain said he understands freedom of choice with raw milk, but added that "we have a fundamental duty to public health."
Dr. Jimmy Guidry with the Department of Health and Hospitals said it appeared that people have forgotten why milk is pasteurized in the first place. Strain said pasteurized milk is 150 times safer than unpasteurized, or raw, milk.
Both Guidry and Strain expressed concern that the bacteria remaining in raw milk could lead to disease and even death.
"You know, at the end of the day, the raw milk is inherently riskier than pasteurized milk," Strain said.
In its amended form, the bill would have required that milk only be sold on the farm and not in stores. Cows would have had to be inspected four times per year and milk bottles would have needed to carry a warning label.
Still, that was not good enough for some dairy farmers.
"If I give 'em a cow patty, it's just like giving them raw milk. We're playing Russian Roulette. I never play Russian Roulette with my children," Womack said.
Though the bill failed to advance out of committee, LaFleur said he intends to bring back another version of the bill next year.