Thursday, May 23, 2013

Raw Milk - - Raw Deal

It's illegal to sell raw milk in the Dairy State, Wisconsin.

I don't drink unpasteurized milk, though I know happy, healthy people who do.
And for some consumers, obtaining the right to buy unpasteurized milk is a passionate, political cause, and I'm not interested in taking on another political battle.
But I am interested in the criminal case being prosecuted in Sauk County right now by the Dairy State - - the Attorney General's office is leading the charge - - against a farmer charged with selling raw milk and other items without what the state says are proper licenses.
This newspaper has published a story about the case, here.
Set aside for a moment the issue of whether raw milk might be good or bad for you: the state has put the farmer firmly in the grip of a Catch-22 by charging him with failing to get a license to sell something for which no license exists: raw milk.
Making this prosecution about licensure is where the state goes off the moral high ground and into bureaucratic and legal quicksand; the underlying issue is that powerful dairy industry interests fear ever seeing a story suggesting that Wisconsin milk products are unsafe - - even potentially unsafe - -  and the Attorney General has weighed in with his heavy hand and elevated the case to a criminal matter.
Look - - I understand that dairy is deeply entwined with the state's economy, heritage and reputation.
But so is entrepreneurship and making a living without the state bringing in its biggest legal guns to make your life miserable.
And it may not be a perfect comparison, but we've figured out ways to legalize the sale of products and services in the state - -  - - tobacco, alcohol, gambling - - that do proven, widespread damage, and government is in for a cut of the proceeds, to boot.

And people enjoy raw beef, raw fish, too: To be a good sport I even ate  freshly-killed raw eel in a Japanese eel bar when I was with one of my Tokyo hosts on a reporting fellowship for this newspaper in 1987 - - though at another dinner I drew the line at a bowl full of still-living goldfish to be swallowed in their steaming broth.
You'd think a state that is truly open for business would back away from 'fence-them-out' regulations and laws, and in this case, find a way to accommodate farmers who produce unpasteurized milk and customers who choose to buy them.
First posted at Purple Wisconsin Thursday.


Anonymous said...

Raw milk is unsafe. Science should rule over emotion. Here is info from the CDC:

"Many people who chose raw milk thinking they would improve their health instead found themselves (or their loved ones) sick in a hospital for several weeks fighting for their lives from infections caused by germs in raw milk. For example, a person can develop severe or even life-threatening diseases, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure and stroke."

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, most WI dairy farmers drink milk right out of the tank. They would laugh at the idea of buying milk from the store.

Anonymous said...

What makes this even more ridiculus is that dairy farmers ARE allowed to sell cow urine and excrement that is not pasturized or treated in any way.

Perhaps this farmer's biggest mistake was the orifice chosen obtain his retail product.

Lynette said...

I'd give anything to be able to drink raw milk. Other states have found a way to allow it and maintain safety. I don't believe its about the safety. I think its about keeping the profits for the big producers and not allowing small farmers to profit too.