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Raw Milk: Questions and More Questions

By David E. Gumpert

This article originally appeared on The Complete Patient.

Wisconsin legislation that would allow Grade A dairy farmers to sell raw milk directly from the farm has now passed both houses of the legislature by significant margins.

The legislation has all kinds of weaknesses from the viewpoint of Wisconsin dairy producers. By being limited to Grade A dairy farmers, it leaves out many small dairy producers that aren’t necessarily suppliers to processors. Moreover, it is time limited–would expire after next year. That means opponents will be pushing to find “problems” even before it gets fully implemented. And it will be implemented by the state’s notorious Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), which despises raw milk and raw milk producers.

Still and all, it is a start, and it is a start in a huge dairy state. It would enable a number of Grade A dairies that have been struggling under the iron fist of the DATCP to legally sell raw milk. Oftentimes. getting a legal foot in the door leads to bigger and better things down the road.

Gov. Jim Doyle will no doubt be pressured by dairy processors and public health types, not to mention his own DATCP, to veto the legislation. That’s what happened to SB 201 in California, which would have rescinded a stringent bacterial-count standard, and had passed the legislature by even larger margins than the Wisconsin legislation; Gov. Schwarzenegger gave in to the pressure and vetoed the legislation in late 2008.

But a lot has happened since 2008. Raw milk is ever more popular, and proponents more politically active. The key will be to convince the governor that the legislation is important to key segments of voters. If you’re for the legislation, give his office a call, 608-266-1212, and say it’s about SB434, the raw milk legislation.
A Pennsylvania dairy appears to be the target of an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration into interstate shipments of raw milk.

Dan Allgyer, an Amish dairy farmer, had a visit Tuesday morning from two FDA agents, as well as federal marshalls and a state trooper. According to an account by Allgyer, the FDA agents presented a search warrant and said they had “credible evidence” Allgyer is involved in interstate commerce involving raw milk, which is a violation of federal law.

The farmer’s account of the events of Tuesday morning are presented on the web site of the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA).

It’s no secret that raw milk is pouring out of states that allow its sales–Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina–into East Coast cities like Washington, New York, and Boston, where it can’t be sold via retail outlets. It may well be that, following its typical modus operandi, as in the Max Kane case, the FDA is targeting a single producer for enforcement…hoping to use that example to scare off other producers and thereby reduce the supply.

Afraid not, guys. This trend is too far along. There are too many consumers desperate for their raw milk to let the FDA enforcers stop the supply. Maybe the enforcers will slow things down for a while. But I guarantee, it will pick right up. Strong demand always creates its supply. Economics 101.


We may receive actual “scientific’ evidence before long about the influence of raw milk on lactose intolerance. Stanford is conducting a presumably double-blind study to determine whether raw milk eases lactose intolerance, which is a problem for between 30 million and 50 million Americans.

If you live in the Palo Alto area, and have lactose intolerance, you may want to consider participating–you’ll earn an easy $250. The Stanford researchers seem not to be concerned about the explanation offered by the new semi-official web site, www.realrawmilkfacts, that “it would not be ethical to intentionally expose research participants to a high-risk product such as raw milk” as part of a scientific study.

A small study out of Michigan in 2007 showed as many as 80% of individuals suffering from lactose intolerance gained relief from raw milk.


Photo: Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle.

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