• WisBusiness

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Doyle should veto raw milk bill to protect state's dairy industry

By David Ward
Recently in a BizOpinion column, raw milk advocate Joe Plasterer gave his opinion as to why Gov. Jim Doyle should sign Senate Bill 434, which authorizes a dairy farmer with a grade A dairy farm permit to sell unpasteurized milk directly to consumers on the farm if the dairy farmer obtains a raw milk permit from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Mr. Plasterer centered his opinion around the economic benefits to rural Wisconsin of allowing Wisconsin dairy farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers. What Mr. Plasterer doesn’t tell you is that Wisconsin has a lot to lose once an illness caused by the consumption of raw milk tarnishes the healthy image Wisconsin’s dairy industry has worked so hard to build and sustain.

According to the American Public Health Association, states that permit the sale of unpasteurized dairy products have nearly three times the risk of having unpasteurized product-related outbreaks and nearly twice the risk of having outbreak-associated illnesses. Of particular concern to APHA is the high proportion of children involved in milk-borne disease outbreaks and the potential for serious illness. It’s not a question of if someone will become ill from the consumption of raw milk, it is a question of when.

I find it hard to understand that the same Legislature that wants to protect public health and safety by banning texting while driving will allow Wisconsin citizens to purchase a product that they know will make people sick.

The dairy industry in Wisconsin is a $26.5 billion industry. Dairy means more to Wisconsin than orange juice means to Florida or potatoes mean to Idaho.

While Mr. Plasterer says the dairy industry will gain from having consumers from Wisconsin cities drive out to the country to purchase raw milk, he is missing a much larger point. Wisconsin dairy farmers produce over 25 billion pounds of milk per year. According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, 90 percent of Wisconsin’s milk production goes into cheese and 90 percent of that cheese is sold outside the state of Wisconsin. These sales of Wisconsin cheese help bring needed dollars into the states economy from outside the state.

Any disease caused by the sale of raw milk could put Wisconsin’s $26.5 billion dairy industry in jeopardy. Mr. Plasterer points out that other states “have figured it out how to make it work,” but these states do not have as much to lose if their healthy dairy image is tarnished.

Governor Doyle has been a leader in allowing Wisconsin’s $26.5 billion dairy industry to move forward. Through his leadership dairy production is at an all time high, cow numbers are increasing and sales of Wisconsin dairy products are world wide.

Doyle should look at the economic health of the entire dairy industry and veto SB 434.

-- Ward is dIrector of government relations & dairy for the Cooperative Network.


Comments: 4

At May 13, 2010 at 12:03 AM, Blogger slippycat said...

Did David Ward go to the 3/10/10 public hearing in Eau Claire or sit in on the Raw Milk Policy Working Group committee discussion's? I think he needs to do a little more homework and research before he presents such a flimsy article.

BTW, the next Raw Milk Policy Working Group (is open to the public)
Monday, May 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Lyman Anderson Agriculture and Conservation Center, 1 Fen Oak Court, Madison

At May 13, 2010 at 4:56 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Dairy industry record profits while just last year 2300 Wisconsin dairy farms were lost forever? This is a sick dairy industry bent on erasing all farmers - they want vertical integration - like the poultry industry, the pork industry and beef. A raw milk illness affecting the 'dairy industry'? Show us where it's happened. It hasn't. Nice try. The dairy industry itself is the biggest threat to the dairy industry.

Wisconsin wants dairy farmers, quality milk, and we have been and will even better - deliver great raw milk to those that want it.

Leadership? To where? A handful of mega-CAFO farms? Every time a family farm disappears - those cows and more get added to the CAFO's of this state. The Dairy Industry is the Enemy of Farmers and everyone of this state.

Come join the anti-trust hearings in June - and see how our 'dairy industry' colludes to crush family farms, century old proud traditions, the very cornerstone of our 'dairy reputation' - in its thirst for profits at any expense.

PROUD Wisconsin Dairyman, Scott Trautman, Stoughton WI

At May 13, 2010 at 7:12 AM, Blogger Katie said...

"I find it hard to understand that the same Legislature that wants to protect public health and safety by banning texting while driving will allow Wisconsin citizens to purchase a product that they know will make people sick."

What a ridiculous comparison. I would assume that you in Wisconsin are able to CHOOSE to purchase things like alcohol and tobacco? Or are you trying to argue that raw milk is more dangerous than cigarettes and booze? If raw milk carries a risk, it should be up to consumers to decided whether or not they want to accept that risk.

The government "war" on raw milk has nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with destroying family farms and appeasing "big dairy."

At May 15, 2010 at 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

E. coli is normal gut flora used to make vitamin K/2. When cows are fed grass, their rumens are alkaline, and E. coli from them will not be pathogenic, as stomach acid kills it.

Confinement cows are fed corn, so their rumens are acidic and allow bad E. coli to survive the trip through a human stomach. Raw milk farmers don't keep their cows in confinement, but on grass or hay!

Per CDC, most E. coli is due to meat:number one BY FAR,cookie dough,pizza,Taco Bell,spinach. Infected water is also a common means of transmission; 921 cases were reported after people attending a county fair were exposed to contaminated water, some cross-infected with Campylobacter. Most E. coli infections simply result in diarrhea.

"Kidney failure" from E. coli. Only those having Shiga toxin are affected, about 0.002%. Of those, 95% will have diarrhea. Of those,0.0002% will die. Total mortality rate of 0.000216%. As one said, “It’s a numbers game.” So it is-let's be honest re. actual risk, which is minuscule.

Campylobacter is usually sporadic. Seasonal increases are observed; this is taking isolated cases across the US as a whole, and is NOT a “massive outbreak” here or there. It is usually spread by fecal contamination, cats and dogs are also culprits as vectors. The largest single outbreak, 3000 people, was in 1978 from contaminated WATER.

Most Campylobacter cases resolve on their own in 5 days. Guillain-Barre also was mentioned. GB is a SYNDROME, not a disease,an autoimmune condition that CAN follow Campylobacter, but also pneumonia and viruses. According to NIH, “nobody knows” what causes GB. The only cases I have seen were subsequent to people getting VACCINES. What about health risk with vaccines? (I have seen kids develop seizures some weeks after receiving the MMR.) The vet who mentioned the GB story, also admitted that his colleague got sick from a sick calf, NOT from raw milk! If cattle are actually infected, a farmer would certainly know it.

Salmonella is the final one. Ridiculous; Salmonella is the commonest cause of food poisoning and can be spread by almost anything. Recent outbreaks were: 2006--chocolate, 2007--pot pies, 2008-- cereal and peppers, 2009—turtles and peanuts. Not all cases are stool-cultured, and in ER we just treat and release. Only when we are told by Public health to culture, do we do that. It is NOT routine! Therefore, there are FAR more cases of this than appear at the CDC website, as they only pay attention to large outbreaks.

Salmonella is incredibly mild, is usually connected with eating prepared foods, and over with swiftly. I believe anybody over 30 has probably had it, and thought it was “stomach flu”. Since it CAN be spread, other family members COULD get it, so they’d believe even more that it was “flu”. The commonest suspected food is eggs, but see above for other causes.

Listeria is usually found in contaminated meat products, especially hot dogs, cold cuts, pate’, smoked fish, soft cheeses. In the US, Feta or Camembert are made from PASTEURIZED milk, yet they are still on CDC’s “naughty list” for pregnant women!

Listeria is found in FEEDLOT or CONFINED cattle; again, not the situation we see in farmers selling raw milk. Any animals with active listeriosis are very sick, and their milk would not be sold. Cats, dogs, pigs, rabbits, and many other small mammals carry it. Listeria can also be found in breastmilk of human carriers; yet we don’t see DATCP banning mothers from feeding their babies, nor do we see infants becoming ill! CDC reports include multistate outbreaks from turkey meat and PASTEURIZED milk.

When he calls for banning cats (toxoplasmosis, listeriosis), meats (E.coli), and water(Campylobacter, E.coli) then I'll believe Mr. Ward is worried re. health. ER RN


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