Rep. Meier’s bill to help dairy farms heads to Governor’s desk

The Illinois Senate approved legislation sponsored by State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) to alleviate concerns brought forth by local dairy farmers. In Illinois, dairy farms are getting hit with lower grades simply because an inspection report from the Division of Food, Drugs, and Dairy (FDD) is not clearly posted when health inspectors arrive at the farm. This has been an issue since the FDD changed the way they handle inspections last fall. For decades dairy farm inspectors would leave a copy of their inspection report for dairy farmers to keep in hand, but not since last fall.

“This bill will certainly correct the burden that dairy farmers are currently faced with,” said Rep. Meier. “Pending the Governor’s signature, this new law will require inspections to go back to the way they have been conducted for decades, requiring the inspector to leave a hard copy of the inspection report to the dairy farm following an inspection – it’s just common sense.”

The legislation (HB 4428) sponsored by Rep. Meier would allow dairy farms without access to computers or printers to hold a copy of the inspection report, which can eliminate needless inspection point deductions to a dairy farm. Rep. Meier’s legislation provides that the Department of Public Health or a unit of local government electing to administer and enforce the Act shall provide a dairy farm with a paper copy of the dairy farm's inspection report. 

Under current law, failure to post an inspection report at a dairy farm results in a penalization of five points to the farm upon next inspection. When a farm is docked points for example, their milk is downgraded to Grade B or C. This reduces the price that they can sell their milk for to roughly a third of Grade A milk prices. This leads to a drop in tax dollars collected by the state of Illinois on the sale of the milk. This is why Rep. Meier introduced legislation to correct the intent of the law and reduce the burden placed on Illinois dairy farms.

Amish communities often lack access to computers, printers and electronics; this bill would help prevent their dairy farms from being unnecessarily docked points during inspections, which can lead to a downgrade of the grade at which their milk is sold.

Rep. Meier’s legislation passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives on April 19th and passed out of the Senate on May 23rd. HB 4428 now heads to Governor Rauner for his signature upon becoming law.

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