Why Did Raw Milk Curdle in House Committee?

farmers in jailYesterday, as previously reported, the raw milk bill (HB 1536) was defeated by the House Ag Committee. But before the bill was defeated on a roll call vote, it was ruled passed on a voice vote by Vice Chair Rep. Nate Steel. What happened?

Rep. Bob Ballinger, a freshman, conservative legislator from Hindsville, requested a roll call vote and it was seconded. But Rep. Ballinger has already proven himself to be a friend of liberty in the Arkansas House. Why did he request a roll call vote and leave the bill vulnerable to defeat? In a brief interview with The Arkansas Project, Ballinger said it was simply a mistake:

 The bill passed on a voice vote and I thought I heard the chair rule that the nays had it. What I thought was to help the bill I called for a roll call. I was mistaken and the roll call vote did not have enough votes to pass the bill. I made a big mistake, when I thought I was helping my friend Rep. Alexander and a good bill. According to Rep. Alexander, he is bringing the bill back to be heard again.

In regards to his support for the pro-liberty policy, Rep. Ballinger was unequivocal:

 I do support the bill because I do not think the state should be prohibiting individuals from making food choices for themselves and family, especially in a situation where there is little evidence of a substantial health risk to the public.

Undoubtedly, some pundit or legislator is going to have a cow and blame this mistake on “term limits.” “If we didn’t have term limits,” they’ll say, “these types of rookie mistakes wouldn’t happen.” I think that’s pretty much hogwash. Rep. Ballinger is an intelligent man who made an honest mistake — not because he’s a rookie legislator, but because legislators (who closely resemble the human species) are fallible. But unlike a lot of legislators, Rep. Ballinger has the courage and humility to admit his mistake.

If the incident proves anything, it’s that the current system of voting in committee is ridiculous and needs reform. Voice voting is an opaque and ineffective way of legislating. While the bill’s failure (for now) is unfortunate, at least now the people of Arkansas can know which legislators think they should control what we eat and are cuddled up to the udders of Big Dairy (view the roll call tally here). And that’s a good thing.

For more on the importance of reforming committee voting, check out Advance Arkansas Institute’s Action Plan, starting on page 77.

We’ll keep providing a diary of dairy news as the session continues.


  1. Christine says

    I agree. Bob Ballinger did the right thing–and it was an excellent eye-opener for all of us. Mr. Ballinger is a friend of freedom and an asset to Arkansas. I would far rather have “mistakes” like that than elitist career politicians who will never leave office. Thank you for your diligent reporting.

  2. RL Brooks says

    We have the conservative ball rolling in AR and need to keep the momentum. This stumble need not be final in the battle for the liberty of Arkansans to decide for themselves what they shall eat. We need to keep this battle up, publicize it, share it with friends, call legislators, and not back down on this one. Let the health dept know that we have enough good sense to decide for ourselves even though they don’t seem to have much common sense themselves.

  3. says

    I think some people are well able to think for themselves, and do not think that legislation should be able to come into a persons house and interfere with that. But we have raised a whole generation of people that are not able to think for themselves because the world they are growing up in exists only in the media. They know so little about how to survive in the real world that most would poison themselves trying to get a drink of water if it did not come from a fountain or faucet. It is true that without chemically altered, or food products that are altered by selective breeding that the world would starve to death. There is only enough usable growing space to fee 4.5 billion people with organic methods and there are close to 7 billion people on the planet. to argue from the standpoint that we should have no legislation is to starve the planet, And because of altered water and food products our bodies can no longer tolerate the raw foods our parent ate without biotic supplements for our colons. (Hence the big jump in the market of pro-biotic health products) We can’t draw the line now, it is too late. Almost 200,000 die everyday from starvation everyday now, what would it be if we just stopped and went back to organic farming. While everyone should be given a choice, let us make sure that we educate them on the ramifications of that choice. This situation is only compounded by the fact that we turn food that could feed those starving masses into diesel and other fuels that we can get much more easily and cheaply from the fossil fuels in the ground. The line has been obliterated by legislation to the point that when farmers went to the Secretary of Agriculture last year to get the to relax the ethanol requirements in fuel so that they could feed their starving livestock, the Secretary said no. The early sell off of that livestock is going to have repercussions that will harm us for years to come, if they do not fatally weaken our food supply in this coming year. Short term thinking like that of the Secretary is the very reason that we are even having this debate about milk.

  4. Greta Greeno says

    Rep. Ballinger’s request for a roll call was not the only one. The Chair recognized others who were not as quick on the draw as Ballinger. The roll call vote was coming up anyway.

  5. A Shapiro says

    DW and i raise a few Jersey type cows, we essentially Give away our extra Real whole Milk, and Make Cheese and Butter with the rest. When this Law gets passed it will just offset our Feed ,Hay, and maintenance costs. This is not a big profit thing , but a action of Love for our Neighbors,Family and Friends, who appreciate Good Healthy Nutritious Food. We need to find MD Doctors who will speak at the House Committee, as well as more Respected Citizens and Organizations . Virtually everyone we speak with for a few minutes and explain how we keep the Milk Sanitary and Cold, agrees this should be passed , they can not understand how just Raw Goats can be sold and not Cows Milk as their Grandparents Drank and they as children .
    The State Board of Health uses thin evidence against, along with the CDC, virtually every complaint at a Doctors visit for any Stomach Poisoning they want to report it as the Raw milk, without considering other sources ,these are not accurate stats. There are no Deaths in 200yrs from this Milk, period, and the rest is just a stomach disorder for a few days. We do not have a pond thus reduces risk of Bacteria exposing our Cow’s Udders. We spoke to members of the Farm Bureau , (this org. sells insurance for their profits and have a lobby), the two did not even understand why Farm Bureau keeps coming out against these Whole Milk Incidential sales from a Farm ,this is a Farm issue and a Freedom Food Issue that a huge majority of Arkansas want at this time. Act and Speak out , let them know what you want period, especially if they want to get elected in 2014 !

  6. Mae Johns says

    Mr. Ballinger is a friend of E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter, not “freedom”. That is the dumbest argument for allowing the sale of a potentially dangerous product ever. Raw milk has pathogens and has caused hundreds of illnesses in the past year alone. Which we all pay for. If you want to drink it – go ahead. Then don’t go to the doctor when you get sick and do NOT go to the hospital. Your illness is on you.

    • Scott says

      Raw meat and raw eggs contain dangerous pathogens, yet there is no law outlawing their sale. Consumers are entrusted with the decision of how (and in some cases whether) to cook their meat and eggs. Is raw milk more dangerous than raw meat or raw eggs? Hardly. You make the statement “If you want to drink it – go ahead.” but your whole comment is essentially railing against allowing people to make this decision for themselves. Try a little consistency once in a while.

      • Scott says

        …and just in case you are too lazy to do your homework, the CDC tracks foodborne illnesses by source. If we assume that all “dairy” is raw milk (a pretty harsh assumption), then in 2009-2010, there were 460 illnesses attributable to raw milk (none of this could have been from contaminated ice cream or yogurt or anything else, right?). Sounds bad, but if we look a little further we see that they had 29,444 illnesses confirmed as attributable to food in that period. (2,231 attributable to eggs, which CAN be pasteurized but aren’t required to be). In fact, there were more cases of foodborne illness caused by each of the following categories of food during that time period: Beef, Pork, Poultry, Sprouts, Leafy Vegetables, Fruits & Nuts, and “vine-stalk” vegetables. Are you pushing to require all of those to be more heavily processed and regulated than they already are?

  7. AJ HillBilly says

    Hey Guys , Milk bill passed in Senate , now Call the Governor politely and ask him to sign , HB 1536 now today 4-11-2013 tell everyone !