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.”

  • Russell La Claire

    The “safeguard” is to pasteurize the milk.

  • Mike_Mychajlonka_PhD

    This endless argument is just part of a much larger story. We need to be able to “Pasteurize” milk, hamburger, spinach, lettuce, etc. effectively but without the application of heat. I think it is well past time that the technologies we use for ensuring the safety of our food moved beyond those that arose from the spontaneous generation debate of the 1870’s.

  • Mike_Mychajlonka_PhD

    According to my watch, it is now almost a quarter past 2013, yet, many of our food preservation methods date back from the great spontaneous generation debate of the 1870’s. We need to be able to “Pasteurize” all sorts of things, including ground beef, spinach, celery, cantaloupe, etc. I think people want raw milk because it taste yummy. Why not simply “Pasteurize” milk using a method that does not involve heat and give the public what they want?

  • People do drink raw milk do better than people who drink pasteurized milk. This issue is really about Big Dairy wanting to stomp on the competition using governmental power, a very unAmerican thing to do.

  • lolol. so what if its legalized? people who are uneducated and fear raw milk won’t buy it. What about when spinach and cantelope killed a ton of people? Raw milk comes from small organic farms which are much healthier in processing than mass-produced, sickly farms. The conventional farms feed their cows corn which isn’t their natural food, therefore making them chronically ill. THAT’S what’s sick!