Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Midwest states wrestle with rules for raw milk

States continue to look at regulation of raw dairy products. Kathryn Tormey, writing for the Midwestern Legislative Conference, reports that in most of the Midwest, raw milk must be sold directly to consumers by farmers; in South Dakota, home delivery is permitted. Minnesota is home to a recent outbreak of E. coli that was attributed to consuming raw milk. It is one of the six Midwestern states that allow farmers to sell raw, unpasteurized milk to the public. The others are Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Minnesota has struggled with a lack of resources to properly inspect facilities and ensure public health, reports Tormey. Wisconsin has regulations similar to Minnesota's, but the legislature is hoping to rework the 50-year-old law that bans most raw-milk sales. Some lawmakers hope to change the law to allow farmers, under certain guidelines, to regularly sell raw milk on the farm where it was produced in hopes to boost small farm incomes. An earlier version of the legislation passed this spring, but Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it, citing health concerns.

In Iowa, not much legislative sentiment exists to allow raw-milk sales. State Sen. David Johnson says it could boost farm income, "but not at taking the risk of being sued, and certainly not at the cost of having health risks to the consumer." That rings bells in Iowa, which was was the source of this year's huge egg recall, so Johnson says policymakers are unlikely to consider opening up raw milk sales. (Read more)

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