Wisconsin Raw Milk Group Finalizes Report - Clarification

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(Note on clarification: This story, published in Wednesday’s Dairy Herd Network Daily newsletter, referred to possible legislation in February, but there is no plan for a vote in the Legislature at this time. The report will not contain a specific recommendation to change the law that prohibits raw milk sales.)

By Shannon Hayes, Managing Editor of AgriView

MADISON -- A Wisconsin group studying raw milk plans to release its report to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by mid-February.

The Raw Milk Policy Working Group met for the last time in mid-December at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Madison.

The group spent the day discussing and reviewing some of the fine points of the policy recommendations they’ve been working to compile over the past nine months. The group was appointed by the late Secretary of Agriculture, Rod Nilsestuen, and the group met for the first time in March.

The report includes ways how Wisconsin might allow the sale of unpasteurized milk but will not contain a specific recommendation to change the law that prohibits raw milk sales. There is no proposal in the legislature concerning raw milk sales. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle last spring vetoed legislation that would have approved limited raw milk sales.

The diverse group, representing both pro and con viewpoints on raw milk legalization, was charged with several points:

• Review and evaluate laws related to raw milk in other states and regulations that might allow unpasteurized raw milk retail sales on the farm;
• Review, analyze and discuss ways Wisconsin might allow the sale of unpasteurized, fluid raw milk on dairy farms; and
• Make policy, program and/or regulatory recommendations to the state agriculture department related to the retail sale of unpasteurized, fluid raw milk on dairy farms.

The group's final report will be done sometime between mid-January and early February. It will be presented to the agriculture board and released to the public.

The group hopes that if legislation again is proposed, the recommendations of the Raw Milk Policy Working Group are used as a guideline, or at least a starting point.

“Even though everyone (in the group) has their own ideas, it's an intelligent group,” said Ted Galloway of Galloway Co., a dairy processor. “We probably have produced a pretty good product. Instead of rushing through legislation, if we get the citizens involved (as in this situation), we may have products that are good laws that don't need to be patched up later.”

Joe Plasterer, a raw milk consumer in the group, said both sides of the issue were considered in making the report.

“I believe that the middle path this document offers is a starting point or a safe haven to the poles,” he said.



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