Meier highlights need for dairy farm legislation
The industry with most suicides annually in America is dairy farming, according to Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville).
That is why he is trying to make having farm inspections one step easier with HB4428, which modifies the Milk Products Act and mandates the Department of Public Health or municipality provide a dairy farm with a paper copy inspection.
Meier, who governs the largest livestock demographic in Illinois, explained at the April 10 House Human Services Committee hearing how the process of providing approval will make owning a farm that much easier. As of yet, inspectors have been charged to leave notification in the barn after examination and electronically email farm owners of review; however, that will change if HB4428 does not become law, and dairy farmers will have to print out the approval notice from an email. That could be an issue for the Amish who don't access technology.
“If you are a dairy farmer, you have to have this posted in your barn and if you don’t, you lose five points on your inspection, and if you lose 10 points you are no longer to sell Grade A milk until you are re-inspected,” Meier.
Holding up a piece of paper, Meier, who grew up on a dairy farm, told lawmakers for his entire life, the sheet he held in his hand as always been offered to dairy farm owners after inspection.
If his bill is not passed, the loss of revenue to the farms and the loss of income tax to the state of Illinois would be significant and probable, Meier said.
“Now that they have been downgraded, the public health inspector will have to come back to that facility, and it may be a two-hour drive one way and we have to pay for that time and mileage to be inspected because five points were lost and they have to be re-inspected because they could not leave this piece of paper in the barn,” Meier said
After Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) moved for the adoption of an amendment on the bill, Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) confirmed Meier’s bill would simply continue the process that has been in place for 70 years and asked Meier, minus the Amish community, would be a problem for other dairy farmers to print out an approval rather than be handed one by the inspector.
“Because you will forget to take it back to the barn,” Meier said. “We all get busy and forget to print it off and take it out there.”
HB4428 advanced 12-0 and will move to the House floor.