Governors in Maine and Wisconsin are using or threatening to use their big veto pens on bills to liberalize raw milk sales in their states.
In Maine, it’s over. Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of “An Act to Help Small Farmers in Selling Raw Milk Products” has been upheld. The Maine Senate voted 17-16 in favor of overturning the Governor’s veto, but that was not enough to meet the two-thirds requirement.
In his veto message, LePage said he was fine with the spirit of bill, just not the way it was drafted. The bill would have exempted raw milk producers with a daily production of 20 gallons or less from licensing and inspection.
The Governor objected to the fact that unpasteurized milk, even in small quantities, could be sold off the farm, including at farmer’s markets. He said sales should be limited to the farm only because it would reduce the overall risk to public health.
LePage says he will propose a bill to the next session of the Legislature, which begins in January. That promise might have been why Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Wilton) voted to sustain the Governor’s veto of the bill he sponsored. The Senator said he looks forward to getting a bill passed and signed next year.
“Food sovereignty” is big in Maine, and illegal sales of raw milk are common.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has long been thought to be a supporter of raw milk sales. But after Republican State Sen. Glenn Grothman announced plans to bring up a raw milk bill later this fall, Walker let it be known that he might not be on board.
“There’d have to be some pretty strong safeguards to ensure that whatever legislation would come through would make sure that…we talk about being America’s Dairlyland, we want to make sure we preserve that, as well.”
Wisconsin lawmakers in 2010 passed a bill to make raw milk sales directly to the public legal, but former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, vetoed it. Since the Republican Walker took over as chief executive, it’s been assumed by many he’d sign a raw milk bill if it came to his desk.
The pasteurized dairy industry opposes allowing commercial sales of raw milk as did a 22-member task force that wrote a report saying raw milk sales could only be allowed under the most restrictive of requirements.
Walker now says Wisconsin must “preserve a safe supply of milk and dairy products in the state.”© Food Safety News