Wisconsin Governor says no to raw milk sales

MADISON, Wis. — Citing the interest of public health and the safety of his state’s dairy industry, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a senate bill on May 19, that would have allowed for direct farmer-to-consumer sales of raw milk.

“I recognize that there are strong feelings on both sides of this matter, but on balance, I must side with the interests of public health and the safety of the dairy industry,” Doyle said in a released statement. “I am listening to the unanimous voice of public health professionals, including leading doctors at the Marshfield Clinic and Gundersen Lutheran Health System who have found the sale of raw milk to have potentially harmful health effects.”

The legislation — known as Senate Bill 434 — would have authorized a dairy farmer with a grade A dairy farm permit to sell unpasteurized milk, buttermilk, butter, and cream directly to consumers on the farm, provided the farmer obtained a raw milk permit from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Requirements

The bill required farmers to prepare and fill containers in a sanitary manner, and display a sign indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. The bill also excluded dairymen for liability in selling raw milk products, provided they did not omit any of the required information.

The governor’s veto was well received by National Milk Producers Federation, which called the decision “a commitment to health and safety.”

In a released statement, Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF, commended the governor for protecting public health.

“Many other state dairy organizations in Wisconsin, along with the health professional community, made a major effort in the past week to provide some badly-needed perspective on the potentially deadly consequences if the state were to have passed this bill,” he said.

Other states

Federal law prohibits interstate sales of raw milk, but allows states individual discretion for regulating raw milk within their borders. Raw milk — milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized, is reported to be prohibited in 23 states.

The debate over raw milk has become a national issue, with states adopting many different policies. Currently, Pennsylvania leads the nation in dairies licensed to sell raw milk. Sales are illegal in Ohio.

Proponents of raw milk claim that pasteurization — the process of heating milk to destroy bacteria and extend shelf life — destroys important nutrients and enzymes.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

4 Comments

  1. Sweetness says:

    It is too bad that Bill Marler decided to take the side of the dairy processors, and keeping raw milk on the black market where it is more likely to make someone sick. It seems Marler is more interested in sensationalized fear-mongering about raw milk than he is about food safety

  2. Sammy says:

    Legalized off farm raw milk sales also would give struggling farmers a chance at making a living. There’s risk involved in everything we put into our bodies.

  3. Ranie Jordan says:

    This is insane! It is well-documented & quite provable that raw milk- that has been carefully handled- has absolutely NO “potentially deadly consequences”… It is also well-documented & provable that tobacco & alcohol DOES… Yet, sales of both alcohol & tobacco are allowed, despite the fact that both “have potentially harmful health effects.” What’s happening to your agency?

  4. FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

    Chalk-up another communistic leader…When the government believes that it knows what is best for its’ citizens, it is purely communistic. Once again, our constitutional rights have been violated. Call it what you want-it is still communism, and tragically it is severely infecting this country. What people choose to eat is their right-NOT the governments. This is something that is so very simple-anyone purchasing raw milk should sign a form stating they know the potential risks of consuming raw milk, and they are responsible for serving it to anyone, and, lastly, that the farmer they purchase it from cannot be held responsible for any problems that maybe encountered from the consumption of it. Such a tragedy that a communistically-thinking governor finds it easier to take away peoples’ rights than to make people responsible for their own behaviors.

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