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Groups Urge State Legislators to Kill Revised Raw Milk Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/25/2011

A group of state farm groups, health professionals and commerce leaders are banning together to urge lawmakers to reject any efforts to legalize the sales of raw milk. Calling themselves the Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition, the 15 organizations wrote to members of the state Legislature on Thursday asking them not to co-sponsor a bill that would permit the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk--which they say is supported by 'a small number of Wisconsin residents who believe the benefits of drinking raw milk outweigh the risks.'

According to group representative Shawn Pfaff, supporters of the measure are using information that he says is scientifically inaccurate and unfounded.

"On behalf of the state's well-respected medical community and several thousand Wisconsin residents directly involved in the state's $26.5 billion dairy industry, we strongly urge you to not co-sponsor this bill," the letter read. "Raw milk can cause people to become ill. Medical, public health and microbiology professionals recognize the substantial risk for serious infectious diseases to occur with the consumption of unpasteurized milk."

The group went on to say there is no published scientific evidence that raw milk is beneficial, nor is there any danger or loss of nutritional value as a result of pasteurization. They also reminded lawmakers that 18 people became ill in Michigan after drinking tainted raw milk just last year; and that 35 Wisconsin residents were sickened from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk in 2009.

As Wisconsin Ag Connection reported earlier this month, Rep. Don Pridemore of Harford and Sen. Glenn Grothman from West Bend are circulating a proposal in which producers could sell raw milk if they had a special license from the state, and if the customer brought their own sanitized container. The farm would also be required to hold a Grade A permit to be eligible.

Last spring, former Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a proposal that would have allowed farmers to sell their raw milk if there were certain safeguards in place to protect the public. But Governor Scott Walker said in January that he would likely sign a similar bill if it were to come across his desk.

Supporters have long claimed that raw milk tastes better, contains bacteria that helps fight disease and is more natural. But the new coalition says the entire dairy industry can suffer if just one illness or death from the product were spotlighted in the media.

Members of the newly-formed coalition include Associated Milk Producers Inc., Children's Hospital and Health System of Wisconsin, Cooperative Network, Foremost Farms USA, Land O' Lakes, Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Public Health Association, and Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.

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