HONOLULU (KHON2) — A House bill to legalize raw milk has its first Senate committee hearing next week.

HB521 HD1 will make the sale of raw milk and raw milk products legal, according to Rep. Mark Nakashima.

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Nakashima also said that by legalizing raw milk and selling it through smaller farmers, communities could play a greater role in sustainability for themselves.

If this bill is passed, raw goat milk will also be legal to buy and sell for pets.

Food security is an economic issue,” explained Nakashima. “That means we need to create better access to more locally sourced affordable products. This bill will empowers a new kind of community-based dairy producer who will be able to provide the kinds of affordable food offerings that folks in rural and underserved communities throughout Hawaiʻi have been waiting for.”

The hearing for HB521 HD1 is scheduled for Monday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m.

According to officials, in 1970, Hawaii had 120 milk operations making it among the “most self-sufficient milk-producing states in the nation.”

In 2009 the number dropped to 15 dairies.

Today, there is reportedly only one legally functioning Grade A dairy farm on the Big Island that is in operation.

The bill would allow smaller ranchers and farmers with 10 or fewer cows to produce and sell raw milk directly to community members.

This could be through a non-profit, food hub or even to a neighbor.

“Not only do they get to sell the milk they obtain from their small number of livestock, but they can also make a diverse array of food products from that one source and turn a food desert into a self-sustaining oasis,” Nakashima said.

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You can submit testimony for the Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee at the Hawaii State Legislature website and search “HB521.”