Raw Milk in the News

January 19, 2012

  • Wisconsin Farmer Vernon Herschberger Jailed and Released For Providing Unlicensed Raw Milk to Private Club Members: Herschberger appeared in court on January 11 (NBC 15, 1/11/12) on four misdemeanor charges. According toWKOW (1/10/12), “The court allowed Hershberger to go home on a $500 dollar bond, but he had to go through the jail booking process. ‘I object your honor,’ Herschberger said in court. He’s also required to abide by the law. ‘No sale of food without a food establishment license,’ said Assistant Attorney General Eric Defort. His supporters hope Hershberger continues his business as usual. Hershberger faces four criminal counts, 2.5 years in prison and more than $13,000 dollars in fines.
    He’s due back in court on January 30.” A crowd Herschberger’s supporters and co-owners of the private food club to which the raw milk is distributed came out for a rally on the court steps.
    Steve Ingham of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently told conventional agriculture publication AgriView (1/5) that raw milk is one of the most visible issues the food safety division deals with. “At present there are between five and 10 cases where we know there may be a problem. The cases are in different stages of review and information has been shared with FDA and with county district attorneys. There are other cases where we are still in the data collection process,” he said.
    DATCP secretary Ben Brancel told Agriview, “The interstate movement of raw milk is an FDA issue. . . We’ve discussed this with FDA and we feel it should be the topic for a regional meeting. We enforce according to information available to us. The information we receive is shared with district attorneys because they are the ones who have to proceed with the cases. In the most recent Sauk County case, information was shared with the Department of Justice.”
    Wisconsin dairy farmer and John Kinsman, whom the Food Rights Network profiled last year as a “Food & Farm Hero,”commented about the case in an article in Common Dreams (1/10/12): “This government crackdown on family farmers is absurd given the current sordid state of our food/farm system and the urgent need to relocalize agriculture for the sake of our health, as well as that of the planet. Study after study has shown that the most dangerous food is usually that which has endured the most processing and traveled the furthest. . . . If people in Wisconsin want to enjoy access to fresh local food from family farmers in the future they may need to pass similar ordinances here.  Otherwise, corrupt government under the sway of corporate agribusiness will make sure they have no choice at all.”
  • No Deaths in 38 Years From Raw Milk So Why is it Condemned?“: Dr. Mercola interviews Organic Pastures Dairy Company’s Mark McAfee about the condemnation of raw milk (1/14/12).
  • Obama: “We Support Pasteurization”: President Obama responded to over 6,000 signers of a petition to legalize raw milk on a federal level, “In this case, we support pasteurization to protect the safety of the milk supply because the health risks associated with raw milk are well documented.” According to John Moody, writing for Food Clubs & Coops (1/10/12), “Written by Doug McKalip, the White House senior policy adviser for rural affairs, the response is full of typical government double speak and sleight of hand with facts and figures. He adds that the claim that “the health risks associated with raw milk are well documented” is “spurious at best. The CDC was recently forced to retract its long standing claim that two people have died from raw milk consumption for the ten-year period between 1998 and 2008. Many of the ‘raw-milk’ outbreaks used by the CDC and FDA involve PMO (pasteurized milk ordinance) milk, not fit for human consumption, that either was improperly pasteurized or taken, as in a recent event in Wisconsin, without permission or the knowledge of the farmer or consumer and given raw.”
  • Farmer vs. the Feds“:  The Lancaster Sunday News published an in-depth article about Pennsylvania Amish raw milk farmer Dan Allgyer (1/15/12).
  • New Yorkers Seeking Out Raw Milk Even When They Can’t Drive Two Hours Upstate: According toThe Daily Meal (1/10/12), raw milk delivery from dairy cooperatives to New York City residents that can’t make the two-hour drive upstate to obtain raw milk legally on farms is thriving. “I drink it for the laundry list of health benefits,” Tyrone Mayorga, 23, told The Daily Meal. “I’m all about a return to raw living [and] natural and sustainable food products, no matter the fat content. I also drink it because I like the idea of keeping small farmers in business, knowing my money is being given to honest, hardworking members of my community.”
  • Second Tenino, Washington Raw Milk Dairy Recalls Raw Milk Due to Possible E. Coli ContaminationAccording to Seattle’s Q13 Fox News (1/17/12), “The recall was initiated by the dairy after Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) routine, monthly sampling discovered toxin-producing E. coli in a skim milk sample. E. coli was not found in other samples and has not been previously found at the dairy.” Because most bacteria do not digest fats or do so very slowly, skim milk is used in laboratories as a medium for bacterial innoculation because the bacteria grow faster. Many raw milk dairies do not offer skim milk. Traditionally, skimmed milk was fed to pigs and other livestock, not humans. Anita De Boer, co-owner of the dairy, told law firm Marler Clark’s Food Safety News (1/18/12) that “the dairy, which has been in operation for 2 years, had started selling raw milk only 3 1/2 months ago. Now with the recall coming so soon, De Boer said they have decided not to go on with raw milk.”
    It’s interesting that De Boer spoke with Marler Clark’s publication because Marler Clark is the law firm representing a Tenino family in its lawsuit against nearby Cozy Vale Creamery alleging the dairy’s raw milk made their daughter ill with an E. coliinfection. In an interview with the Nisqually Valley News (1/13/12), Cozy Vale owner Laurie Barta said inspectors from the Washington Department of Agriculture found no E. coli in any Cozy Vale milk samples tested. But Drew Falkenstein, an attorney with Marler Clark, said, “The issue of the milk testing positive or not doesn’t matter.” Barta said, “There’s a huge push right now against [raw milk]. . . I’m not the only little dairy that has gone through this.” According toDairy Herd (1/5/12), attorney Bill Marler is calling on Washington state health officials to look into discontinuing retail sales of raw milk.
    What’s going on in Tenino?

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