Wisconsin Farm Bureau changes sides on raw milk

Wisconsin is “America’s Dairyland” — the slogan has been on Wisconsin license plates for greater than 75 years. The state tops the U.S. dairy business value $40.5 billion with its 9.3 million milk-producing cows.

The milk and dairy merchandise Wisconsin is thought for have lengthy been pasteurized merchandise. Gross sales and distribution of uncooked milk have remained forbidden. That doesn’t imply there haven’t been some knockdown battles prior to now many years over uncooked milk. In 2010, the Wisconsin Legislature went as far as to make uncooked milk authorized.

However then-Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the invoice and stored pasteurization rules in place. And a coalition grew up to verify the Legislature would by no means harm “America’s Dairyland” once more by loosening meals security with uncooked milk. Wisconsin’s main agricultural and medical organizations labored hand-in-hand on the problem.

Now a type of teams, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau has flipped. At its coverage convention in December 2022, a southwestern dairy farmer persuaded fellow delegates {that a} post-pandemic market exists the place extra shoppers are demanding uncooked milk.

Travis Klinkner, a dairy farmer from Vernon County, claims that “expertise and requirements” exist to make gross sales of uncooked milk secure. He says “we’re not farming within the Nineteen Twenties and 30s anymore.”

“The requirements I’m proposing are in a number of methods in extra of pasteurized milk with decrease bacterial and coliform counts, so we are able to guarantee a steady shelf life for shoppers who could also be unaware learn how to devour or deal with uncooked milk,” he mentioned.

Farm Bureau delegates voted to assist uncooked milk gross sales on the conference, a serious change for the group.

“We don’t simply need anybody cracking a valve on their bulk tank and placing milk in a unclean jar,” Klinkner mentioned. “There’s going to be some requirements with this that we proposed at the moment from the Uncooked Milk Institute for instance of some requirements that can present assurances that the shoppers are going to be getting a clear high quality product.”

After Doyle’s well-known veto, a Wisconsin Job Power got here up with requirements that must be met if uncooked milk ever does turn into authorized within the state. Legislative skirmishes since 2010 have continued to implement Wisconsin’s ban on off-farm uncooked milk gross sales.

The Wisconsin Legislature is underway for its 2023 session, however to date no “uncooked milk” payments have been launched. Wisconsin has a Democratic Governor, Tony Evers, with each chambers of the legislature underneath Republican management. They’re recognized for his or her icy relationship.

About one-fifth of dairy merchandise are exported, with Canada, Mexico and Southeast Asia among the many overseas markets value about $6 billion. This explains why it’s such massive enterprise to Wisconsin. About 150,000 Individuals work within the dairy business.

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