The daily risk factor for consuminig raw milk might be acceptable were it not for the dire consequences involved when one’s proverbial luck runs out. It’s called a low incidence/ high consequence choice.
The 50 states went into 2011 fairly evenly split between those that do and those that do not allow the sale of raw milk. Those numbers are going to change, in a few weeks or months, because unpasteurized milk is getting another look at statehouses across the country.
Some, like Iowa, are considering more liberal raw milk sales, as a means of spurring some badly needed economic growth. House File 394, allowing on-farm sales directly to consumers, was heard recently by the Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa subcommittee.
Raw milk advocates continue to argue that the pathogen-killing pasteurization process also eliminates naturally occurring bacteria that make it healthier. Consumers who believe that have shown a willingness to pay as much as $15 a gallon for raw milk.
States, hungry for jobs, and elected officials who are more skeptical of regulations in general, are giving raw milk a try.
In Minnesota, state Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, figures if most California counties can sell raw milk, so too can the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He is not concerned that raw milk made 62 Minnesotans ill in the past year.
Nienow says no food product is absolutely safe. He has introduced a raw milk bill, and hopes to negotiate for more oversight in exchange for an easier system of selling it to consumers.
In New Jersey, Assembly Bill 743 was brought up for an amendment that removes retail stores from raw milk sales, and calls for a permit system by the Department of Agriculture, and inspections by both Ag and the Department of Health and Senior Services.
That amendment was made on the floor, but it appears the New Jersey raw milk bill is back in committee.
Oregon’s HB 2222, a multi-subject family farm bill that includes more liberal raw milk sales, also remains in committee. Texas HB 75 was assigned to the Public Health Committee on Feb. 9, and has not yet received a public hearing.
Vermont’s raw milk bill, adopted in 2009 (Act 62), may have to be brought back to the Legislature because of a dispute between the Agency of Agriculture and the organization known as “Rural Vermont.”
Under Act 62, Vermont farmers can sell limited amounts of unpasteurized milk directly to the public, but only for “fluid consumption.”
The agriculture agency’s dairy section recently objected to Rural Vermont workshops, in which raw milk was used to make butter, yogurt and cheese and then served to participants. After receiving a warning letter last month, Rural Vermont cancelled further classes, and talks are underway that might end up back in the Legislature.