BOSTON (WWLP) – Dairy farms can be found across the state, from Southeast Massachusetts to the Berkshires.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources reports that dairy farming maintains 113,600 acres of open space and land preservation in the state and circulates approximately $45 million to local economies. 

A bill being discussed at the State House wants these farms to be able to sell raw milk to a wider audience. The Joint Committee on Agriculture heard testimony Monday on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk that would affect dairy farms across the Commonwealth.

According to the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, pasteurized milk is heated to over 160* Fahrenheit which kills bacteria, both good and bad. The Raw Milk Institute says a benefit to drinking unpasteurized milk is the creation of the lactase enzyme, which allows many people who are lactose intolerant to digest raw milk.

Currently, raw milk is only allowed to be sold through direct sale from a farm. This bill would allow dairy farmers to sell their raw milk through direct delivery, third party delivery or farm-share programs. It would also allow farmers to sell their raw milk at farm stands that aren’t connected with the dairy farm.

“We have a lot of folks that use raw milk, that have used it for years and years and years, they’re a very informed consumer and we just want to make it a little bit easier for them to be able to get it instead of having kind of this black market that exist right now to get raw milk off the farms. And we want to be able to help our farmers, you know it’s another source of income for them,” said Senator Anne Gobi, (D) Spencer.

The hearing also focused on other bills dealing with agriculture, like the growing of cranberries and hemp.

Senator Gobi, who chairs the agriculture committee, said they will be looking over the bills heard Monday over the coming weeks and believes this bill will come out of committee in late fall.