State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) sponsored legislation 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.
According to State Representative Charlie Meier, “the problem isn’t that dairy farms are not passing inspections, they are receiving the highest inspection grade for their milk – Grade A. However if their Grade A inspection report isn’t clearly posted when an inspector randomly shows up again and the inspector sees something minor he/or she doesn’t like, the dairy farm oftentimes receives a lower grade for their milk, even though their milk is still Grade A.”
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 penalization of five points to the farm upon next inspection. When a farm is docked ten points, their milk is downgraded to Grade C. This reduces the price that they can sell their milk by 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 added, “The inspector should complete their entire inspection before issuing a lower grade. A lower grade issued to a dairy farmer means less profit and fewer taxes paid to the State. I think my legislation will certainly correct this burden that dairy farmers are faced. I hope to put an end to this nonsense and go back to the way inspections have been conducted for decades; by leaving a copy of the inspection report to the dairy farm following an inspection, makes perfect sense.”