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Both Sides Gear Up for Wisconsin Raw Milk Battle

Identical bills have been drafted for state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, and state Rep. Donald Pridemore, R-Hartford, which will, if adopted, make raw milk sales legal in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau wrote the three page bills, which Grothman and Pridemore have been circulating among their colleagues for most of the past month.

Grothman, a prominent Wisconsin Tea Party activist, has had raw milk in his sights ever since former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed last year’s raw milk bill.  Grothman expressed outrage over Doyle’s action, which he called appalling.

In the months since, a task force organized by Wisconsin’s Secretary of Agriculture has worked on a report that says if raw milk ever becomes legal in the state, it should occur only with the highest standards possible to protect “America’s Dairyland” from being associated with damaging outbreaks.

As drafted for the two lawmakers, a dairy farmer with a license and grade A permit would be able to register with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection for on-farm sales of unpasteurized milk and milk products.

Whatever timing the sponsors choose, this year’s battle over raw milk in Wisconsin is certain to be more intense than last year’s.   

The Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition has already been working to persuade lawmakers not to sign on to the raw milk bills.   

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

Rally time in Wisconsin for the raw milk battle could well be in about a month.  Pro raw milk organizations, the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation and the Foundation for Consumer Free Choice have scheduled the Third Annual Raw Milk Symposium for May 7 in nearby Bloomington, MN.  

Dairy is nearly a $30 billion industry in Wisconsin.

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