The next legislative deadline is quickly approaching, so most of the Senate’s ninth week was dedicated to floor debate. One of these bills, nicknamed the “Beagle Freedom Bill,” requires a qualified research facility to establish an adoption program for retired animals at that facility for placement in a permanent adoptive home, whether it be through individual interested in adoption or through an animal shelter or rescue organization. Many of us have pets in our lives that become part of our family and important parts of our everyday lives. This bill ensures dogs and cats used in research can have a chance to be adopted into families that will love them. It passed the Senate 47-1.
We also debated Senate File 2307. This bill removes the requirement of primary source verification for certain licensing boards, meaning an applicant can upload a copy of their transcript or diploma rather than requesting an official transcript or diploma be mailed from an institution. We continue to look at the ways to bring efficiency to state government and reduce barriers to licensure. By implementing this recommendation by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), we can improve timely reviews and eliminate a barrier to licensure for some applicants.
Dairy related issues took center stage on Wednesday. The Senate debate two bills related to the dairy production and marketing in Iowa. The first bill, SF 2309 legalized the sale of fresh milk for very small producers, 10 animals or less, to sell directly to the consumer. This bill ensures clear labeling so consumers know they are buying an unpasteurized product. It maintains strong consumer protections and is similar to laws in adjacent states governing the sale of fresh milk. These very small producers can now access a new business opportunity to sell a niche product directly to consumers. Fresh milk, and cheeses made from it, are growing in popularity and SF 2309 provides an opportunity for small producers to capitalize on that popularity safely.
Earlier in the day the Senate also ran SF 2290 to foster and develop innovation in the traditional dairy industry. Last year the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, a bill commonly referred as the Butcher Bill to address the overwhelming demand for meat processing in Iowa exacerbated by the pandemic. SF 2290 applies a number of those policy initiatives to the dairy industry as well. It creates a Dairy Processing and Milk Production Innovation and Revitalization program in the Iowa Economic Development Authority in coordination with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. An artisanal dairy study is also created to explore establishing an artisanal dairy processing program at a community college or university. The goal of this bill is to help create new career opportunities in the dairy industry and expand economic development in rural Iowa.