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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
Local Debate Over Raw Milk Flaring Up, Again
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/02/2012

One of the state's main backers of legalizing raw milk sales in Wisconsin says consumers should be able to make their own personal choices when it comes to purchasing food products. Rep. Chris Danou of Trempealeau, who is co-authoring legislation with State Sen. Glenn Grothman to loosen some of the restrictions over selling dairy products that have not been pasteurized, wrote an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asking how far the government should go in restricting peoples' rights.

"The past few years have been tough in rural Wisconsin," Danou wrote. "At times, milk prices have been unusually low, and the economy has seen a slow recovery from one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. If farmers in my district are able to responsibly produce a product that the free market demands, who am I as their legislator to tell them no?"

He went on to say that the government allows for the sale of raw eggs, raw beef, fish and poultry; as well as products like liquor, cigarettes and tobacco.

During the last legislative session, Danou proposed a bill that would have allowed farmers to sell their raw milk if there were certain safeguards in place to protect the public. But then-Governor Jim Doyle vetoed the measure at the latest minute after weighing the pros-and-cons for weeks.

"The bill was a product of compromise and included several public health and safety provisions," the western Wisconsin Democrat said. "In fact, because of the public health safeguards added to this legislation, it cleared both houses by a wide margin. As this session of the Legislature winds down, I urge my fellow legislators to consider a similar bill."

Meanwhile, the newspaper also published its on view own the topic, saying it would be 'a serious mistake' for this bill to move forward.

"Pasteurization exists for a reason. Heating milk to kill bacteria prevents disease and saves lives. Wisconsin should not return to the bad old days before pasteurization was widespread," the Journal Sentinel said in an editorial this week.

The paper cited a recent study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that confirms the risk of drinking raw milk.

Wisconsin farm groups like the Farm Bureau and Dairy Business Association are also opposed to its legalization, saying the risks outweigh the benefits.

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