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State's Libertarian Party Defends Effort to Legalize Raw Milk
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/20/2013

Leaders of the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin say the state government should have no right to stop people from selling or drinking raw milk. In a statement from the political group's chairman on Tuesday, Terry Gray claimed the current state law that prevents consumers from purchasing what he calls 'real' or unpasteurized milk demonstrates 'the power of the corporate dairy control over the legislature of America's Dairyland.'

"Government health officials claim that all uncooked animal products are inherently dangerous, even if our forefathers seem to have thrived on raw milk up until the 1950s," Gray said in his memo. "Fresh dairy proponents insist that unpasteurized milk is tastier, healthier, and easier to digest. Ultimately, shouldn't informed consumers be the ones to decide whether to purchase this natural product--or not?"

State Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend has said he plans to introduce a new bill this spring that would legalize the sales of unpasteurized milk under certain conditions. A similar bill was drafted last year, but failed to be brought up for a floor vote.

Supporters of raw milk say people who drink it report improvement or disappearance of troubling health issues, Gray says. But many state farm and health groups have been fighting such a proposal for years. They say there's no sure way to make raw milk safe and that it should not be allowed for public consumption as long as people continue to get sick from it. Others involved in Wisconsin's dairy industry also fear that their business would get a lasting negative wrap if their consumers would become ill from eating or drinking dairy products.

The Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition recently cited figures from the U.S. Center for Disease Control that said nearly 120 raw milk health outbreaks have occurred in the United States since 1998, which included over 2,100 illnesses and two deaths.

Meanwhile, Gray and his party are urging voters in Wisconsin to remember that 15 other states are considering raw milk legalization.

"We can help Wisconsin family farmers and health conscious consumers with just a little bit of common sense and passage of a real milk bill," he said.

Governor Scott Walker has said in previous interviews that he may support a raw milk bill if it contained safeguards that would help keep consumers safe. Former Governor Jim Doyle nearly approved the legalization of raw milk in 2010, but vetoed it at the last minute after consulting with hundreds of people on both sides of the issue.

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