One popular theory is that the foodies and libertarians have joined hands in a great coalition to pass bills to legalize unpasteurized milk across the land. These theorists point to 40 bills introduced in 23 statehouses during the current legislative season. Another possibility is that not all that much has changed in 2014 except for the fact that raw milk advocates are now more visibly split in their ranks on the direction their movement should take.
After Wisconsin’s “raw milk outlaw” Vernon Hershberger was found not guilty of operating without various licenses at the infamous Baraboo trial last year, his vocal opposition to GOP state Sen. Glenn Grothman’s bill to make licensed raw milk sales legal in Wisconsin became symbolic of the split.
All states are equal, but not when it comes to raw milk. Wisconsin is America’s dairy state, with around $30 billion of pasteurized milk sales. After Hershberger came out against Grothman’s bill for raw milk sales that involved some licensing and regulation, the bill went nowhere and is now officially dead.
Before the 2010 elections, the Wisconsin Legislature did make raw milk sales legal. However, Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the bill and Grothman has since failed to get another raw milk bill passed.
And the fact is the 2014 legislative season is already over in 19 states that either do not usually meet in election years or that have already adjourned. Another seven states join that list in just a few days. Except for the half-dozen states with year-round legislative bodies, most of the rest are shut down by mid-May.
It is unlikely there will be any addition to the handful of states that permit raw milk to be sold at retail. The fights are mostly over regulatory tweaks and policies on farm sales and so-called cow-share schemes.
With raw milk bills like these going back and forth, the tightening versus liberalization battle is more like the trench warfare of World War 1. When every legislative season is over, there are usually some slight changes back and forth, but not much in the way of wholesale changes.
The two sides have their lines of debate down pat. Opponents tell how time and transportation of raw milk raise the risks that the harmful bacteria contained in unpasteurized milk pose real dangers to consumers, especially children. They have data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and horror stories on videotape told by raw milk victims and their grieving parents.
Advocates of raw milk talk about “food freedom” and do not lack for testimonials from folks who drank raw milk all their lives and offer theories about how pasteurization kills bacteria in milk, but also ................continue reading