Urging Governor Doyle to veto the raw milk bill
A number of Wisconsin dairy, farm, veterinary and health groups have sent a letter to Governor Jim Doyle asking him to veto the raw milk bill. The groups cite instances of raw milk contaminations causing health problems across the country. The letter goes on to ask the Governor to wait for the Department of Agriculture’s Raw Milk Policy Working Group to “evaluate the issue and make informed, evidence-based recommendations.”
Among those signing the letter:
The letter was accompanied by supporting letters from Marshfield Clinic, Aurora Health Care and others including one signed by 40 Wisconsin dairy producers.
On Wednesday the Governor said he had still not made up his mind as to whether or not he would sign the bill legalizing the direct sale of unpasteurized milk from producers to consumers.
Here is the letter:
PLEASE VETO THE SALE OF RAW MILK
May 13, 2010
To: Governor Jim Doyle
Re: Urge the Veto of SB 434 – Legislation to Permit the Sale of Unpasteurized Raw Milk
On behalf of several thousand Wisconsin residents directly involved in animal agriculture and animal and human health, we strongly urge that you to veto SB 434, legislation to permit the sale of raw milk in Wisconsin. This legislation is on the fast track due to support from hundreds of Wisconsin residents who believe the benefits of drinking raw milk outweigh the risks. They have been informed of the danger of raw milk consumption, but are willing to take the risk, particularly since their experience to-date is that the milk has been safe.
The 18 people who recently became ill in Michigan after drinking tainted raw milk also likely believed the milk posed little or no risk after a prolonged period of “safe” use. Yet the Michigan case is only the latest in a string of at least 12 major foodbourne outbreaks in the United States between 2000 and 2008 that were linked to raw dairy products. In 2001 alone, more than 300 people in the United States got sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk and nearly 200 became ill from these products in 2002. Fortunately, the majority of the illnesses in the recent Michigan outbreak were the result of a type of bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics. Raw milk and raw milk products can be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness, hospitalization, or death.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently convened a Raw Milk Policy Working Group to consider whether there are legal and regulatory means that might allow dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized fluid raw milk directly to consumers, and if so, what conditions would be necessary to protect public health? We strongly urge that the DATCP workgroup be given the opportunity to evaluate this issue and make informed, evidence-based recommendations. Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. For more information, contact WCMA Consultant, Shawn Pfaff at 608-258-8411.