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Public Hearing to be Held in Eau Claire Over Raw Milk Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/26/2010

The public will soon have an opportunity to share their input on a bill that would allow dairy farms to sell unpasteurized milk to people who want it. The Assembly and Senate Agriculture Committees are both traveling to Eau Claire next month to hold a joint public hearing on Senate Bill 434. The forum will be held March 10 at Chippewa Valley Technical College, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Specifically, the measure authorizes a dairy farmer with a grade A dairy farm permit to sell unpasteurized milk, buttermilk, butter, and cream directly to consumers if they obtain a raw milk permit from the Department of Agriculture. It also states that the container must be prepared and filled in a sanitary manner; and the dairy farmer would have to display a sign indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Current law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk and other milk products.

The issue became a hot topic last fall when about two-dozen citizens spent nearly two hours during the DATCP's monthly board meeting commenting on their thoughts about selling raw milk to the public. Many of those people felt the state law was unfair and should be changed. A month later, a Viroqua man who sells unpasteurized milk over the Internet appeared in Vernon County Circuit Court after authorities charged him with violating state food safety regulations.

The bill is being drafted by members of the Senate Ag Committee. They say the legislation would protect dairy farmers by not making them liable for selling such products, except in cases of willfulor wanton acts or omissions.

Meanwhile, State Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen has recently put together a raw milk working group, which will conducting an open-minded review and discussion to decide whether raw milk sales should be allowed in Wisconsin.

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