Rep. Sharon Shewmake’s milk-safety bill earns unanimous approval in state House

OLYMPIA — In a move applauded by Washington’s dairy industry, lawmakers in the state House gave a unanimous thumbs-up to Rep. Sharon Shewmake’s bill that will allow in-state dairies to continue selling their products in other states.

Shewmake (D-42nd, Bellingham) represents Whatcom County, home of more dairies than any other Washington county. Her House Bill 1429 protects public health and ensures food safety by extending until 2025 a dairy milk assessment fee that was due to expire next year.  That fee, paid by milk processors, pays for the inspection services that are required for Washington milk to comply with the “Grade A” Interstate Pasteurized Milk Ordinance – the national standard for milk sanitization.

Without that certification, milk produced in Whatcom and Washington’s 28 other dairy counties could not be sold across state lines. Because most milk produced in Washington does go out of state, Shewmake told fellow legislators that their vote to extend the fee was “the easiest bill that you’ll vote on this year.”

“Milk is the number two agricultural product in Washington,” Shewmake said, “second only to apples, and ahead of beef, wheat, and potatoes. Dairies are crucial to Whatcom’s economy, and I was honored to work with our milk producers to craft this good, common-sense bill.”

After a 96-0 vote in the House of Representatives Monday afternoon HB 1429 headed to the Senate for further consideration.