A multi-year legislative battle just ended with the passage of the first federal food safety law in generations, just signed by President Obama a few days ago, but raw milk proponents aren’t waiting long to try and score their own legislative victory in the form of a Wisconsin bill, vetoed last year by former Governor Jim Doyle, that will legalize some form of raw milk sales in the state. Governor Doyle had his doubts about the bill:
I recognize that there are strong feelings on both sides of this matter, but on balance, I must side with the interests of public health and the safety of the dairy industry
New Governor Scott Walker says he would sign a bill to let farmers sell raw milk – as long as it has safeguards to protect public health and the integrity of the dairy industry. Certain Wisconsin Republican lawmakers have said they would support the measure.
Lawmakers need to be exacting about the safeguards contained in the bill, and not be persuaded by the inevitable arguments that needed, and potentially expensive, safeguards will prevent small scale producers from selling raw milk. No producer should get a free pass when it comes to raw milk. After all, there were at least 11 outbreaks linked to raw dairy products in 2010, causing at least 138 illnesses (salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, and E. coli O157:H7). And at least a couple show exactly why the safeguards need to be stringent; indeed, not every raw milk farmer deserves the trust of families consuming his products.