American Farm Publications, Inc.

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Raw deal for raw milk? (Editorial)

Raw milk: Maryland is totally soured on it, won’t even talk about it; New Jersey is giving it some dialogue, but without success to this point.
It’s not that raw milk drinkers in either Maryland or New Jersey are having to do without.
It’s available “up north,” in Pennsylvania and New York.
Those mothers determined to feed it to their families can buy it up there.
They are not supposed to bring it across state lines but they do, so far without being arrested by agents of the Food and Drug Administration.
That would be bad public relations for the agency. So the agency is going after the nasty farmers — many of them Amish — who are selling it.
Going after farmers has less public sentiment risk that mothers trying to feed their babies.
In New Jersey, an Assembly bill, which would allow the commercial sale of raw milk, was adopted handily but a carbon-copy bill in the Senate failed to get out of committee.
Already, new bills are in the hoppers of both houses for the next legislative session.
Nothing of the sort is expected in Maryland. Maryland dairymen shudder at the thought of one — just one — child getting sick from raw milk and the ripple effect that would have on the dairy marketplace.
The assumption is always made, by raw milk opponents, that raw milk, lacking the protection of pasteurization, surely contains all those bad things that cause illness and, indeed, can cause death.
No farm operation is more scrutinized for sanitation than a dairy farm is — particularly its milk house.
The milk that, in the morning is picked up for delivery to the processing and bottling plant, is no less sanitarily inspected or “safe” than that which emerges from pasteurization.
And if it stays on the farm or is sold bottled to raw milk customers, its production is even more intensely supervised and scrutinized.
Remember, that dairy family is drinking that milk raw, every day, and those farming parents care just as deeply about their kids as that mom in the supermarket in Trenton or Baltimore.
Raw milk, off the farm, sells for $8 to $10 a gallon. There are lots of dairymen today who would jump at the “value-added” opportunity to stoke up the bottom line.
In its continuing legislative debate, raw milk just needs to get a fair shake. Let fact rule over fiction.
Let the dairymen be heard, free of outside intimidation.
Thirty states currently allow raw milk sales. In 13 of those states, the sales must be made on the farm. So be it.