It is a crime to sell raw milk in the state of Wisconsin, and one farmer may be going jail for doing just that. According to an article in Walworth County Today, the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office is evaluating whether to file charges against the owners of an Elkhorn farm shut down after more than two dozen people fell ill with Campylobacter infections after consuming the farm’s raw milk.
Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld on Monday met with three representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
"It’s a crime to sell raw milk," Wiedenfeld said after the meeting. "Whether or not it gets charged is a determination that we have to make. I’ll be speaking to them (officials) about making a charging decision and what is the proper outcome for a case like this." Wiedenfeld said it will be a matter of weeks before he makes a charging decision.
As has become a common workaround for similar laws banning the sale of raw milk in other states, some of the buyers claim they did not buy raw milk because they actually have an ownership in the cow under a cow-share scheme. They claim the arrangement should make it legal for them to have raw milk because Wisconsin law allow farmers and their families to consume their own raw milk as long as they don’t sell it.
But Wiedenfeld says that theory is a no go. According to him, selling raw milk is illegal in Wisconsin, even under a cow-share program.
DATCP spokeswoman Donna Gilson said some consumers are misinformed about the law and think they have found a loophole that would allow them to obtain raw milk. But to get raw milk from a farm, Wisconsin statutes require individuals to be bona fide owners with a "real financial stake on the farm," she said.
For just a sampling of the dangers associated with consuming raw milk, check out this study published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease: Food Safety Hazards Associated with Consumption of Raw Milk.