For the first time since former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill in 2010 to legalize the sale of unpasteurized milk in America’s dairy state, proponents in Wisconsin are getting their ducks in a row for another serious try.
A Republican state senator who authored a failed 2011 raw milk bill says he will be introducing a new proposal for consideration by the Wisconsin Legislature, which is meeting in year-round session in Madison.
The challenge for state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) is writing a bill with enough safeguards that Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker will sign it into law, but without putting the safety barriers up so high it won’t get much use.
Before he left office, Doyle appointed the Wisconsin Raw Milk Policy Task Force with dairy and health experts from around the state. In its 261-page report, issued in March 2011, the task force took the approach of detailing all requirements that would be required to ensure safety if raw milk were ever sold commercially in the state.
Walker’s office has told state media outlets that the Governor could sign a raw milk bill so long as it allowed consumers to purchase the product directly from farmers and there are “appropriate safeguards” to protect public health and the state’s dairy industry. The task force’s recommendations were largely ignored in Grothman’s 2011 bill.
Gov. Walker has just announced a plan to grow Wisconsin’s pasteurized dairy industry with the goal of producing 30 billion pounds of milk by 2020, up from the current 26.1 billion pounds — already more than any other state.
Grothman won’t say when he’ll drop his 2013 raw milk bill into the hopper. When he does, the two sides are ready for the fight. Opponents say pathogens contained in raw milk cause too many outbreaks to justify relaxing pasteurization requirements, while proponents say the health benefits make it worth the risk.
In Wisconsin, that pits the Safe Milk Coalition against the Campaign for Real Milk.
Current law in Wisconsin allows people to drink raw milk; it just cannot be legally sold. Farmers can provide it to friends and family as long as no money exchanges hands.
Like many raw milk advocates, Grothman believes that when pasteurization kills the bacteria, it also kills nutrients in milk. His belief, however, is pure myth, according to Dr. Michele Jay-Russell of the University of California Davis. She is an editor for the website Real Raw Milk Facts.
On the issue, Dr. Jay-Russell writes that “analyses of the nutritional components of raw and pasteurized milk revealed no significant differences for the major nutritional components such as proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins.”© Food Safety News