While a coalition of agriculture groups urged Governor Jim Doyle to veto legislation which would have allowed for the on-farm sales of raw milk in Wisconsin, at least one farm group sees a lost opportunity in Doyle’s veto of the bill. Kara Slaughter with Wisconsin Farmers Union says it’s a lost opportunity for a segment of dairy farmers and consumers. “Even though over half of states in the U.S. have some form of raw milk sales, raw milk only accounts for one to three percent of all milk sales in the U.S.” said Slaughter. “This was always going to be a small percentage of milk sales. It’s a big deal for farmers who saw it as a market opportunity.”
And a lost opportunity to regulate the sales of unpasteurized milk which, Slaughter notes was happening before the bill was proposed in the legislature and which will continue. “This bill had lots of great safety provisions,” she noted. “It required that all the sellers were Grade A certified. It required testing, and record keeping so that in the event of illness so that those other customers could be notified immediately.” Slaughter said arguments from opponents of the legislation, that illness from drinking raw milk would taint Wisconsin’s dairy industry, seemed overblown because most consumers would have continued to buy pasteurized milk. “It would be very clear to any customer whether they’re buying pasteurized or unpasteurized milk,” she said.
Slaughter says millions of people in the U.S. are drinking raw milk. “At the same time, I want to be perfectly honest that on a serving by serving basis, a person is more likely to encounter bacteria in unpasteurized milk,” said Slaughter. “It’s also true that you’re more likely to get sick from eating raw spinach than cooked spinach. Yet there’s no movement to outlaw raw spinach.”