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News for March 10, 2010

UPDATE 2: Hundreds turn out for raw milk bill hearing in Eau Claire

Eau Claire (WQOW) - People fill an Eau Claire auditorium to give their two-cents about raw milk.

At the heart of the debate is whether legalizing the sale of it would be a health risk.  Almost 500 people showed up for a public hearing on a bill that would make the sale of raw milk legal in Wisconsin.

"You can never drink pasteurized milk once you've tasted raw milk, its alive!," says Margo Redmond, a raw milk drinker who traveled from Madison for Wednesday's hearing.

But county and state health department officials say folks who drink raw milk are three times more likely to get sick.


Hundreds pack raw milk hearing in Eau Claire

Eau Claire — Hundreds of raw milk advocates packed a legislative hearing Wednesday, demanding the right to buy and sell unpasteurized dairy products that some claim have powerful health benefits but that detractors call dangerous.

Bills in the state Legislature would allow consumers to buy raw milk and other dairy products directly from farms and exempt farmers from liability if someone becomes ill from pathogens in the milk.

Advocates say the dairy state's handling of the issue will send an important signal to the rest of the country. With the exception of limited, incidental sales, state law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk to the public because it could carry bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses.

Raw milk advocates want the law changed, saying consumers should be able to decide whether the health benefits of drinking unpasteurized milk outweigh the risks.


Mr. Gjerde goes to Washington

Spike Gjerde heads to Washington this morning to do some cooking -- and lobbying.

The Woodberry Kitchen chef will take part in National Small Farm and Ranch Grassroots Lobby Day, organized by the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association.

Gjerde and others will voice opposition to a provision in a food-safety bill that would make it harder to buy directly from farmers.


Hundreds pack hearing in Eau Claire about legalizing sale of raw milk in Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE — Hundreds of people packed a legislative hearing in Eau Claire Wednesday on legalizing the sale of unpasteurized milk.

The proposed legislation would allow consumers to buy raw milk directly from a farm and give dairy farmers immunity from liability if someone got sick drinking the unpasteurized product.

Advocates say raw milk has powerful health benefits and that consumers should be able to decide for themselves whether the risk is worth it.


Big Shots Discuss Raw Milk Behind Closed Doors

Raw milk walks a thin line between love and hate.

Organic farmers love it, the dairy industry hates it and the state agriculture department says it just wants to keep the public safe. The latter put together a raw milk program and brought it to the Legislature this year, but it ran into opposition from folks arguing the program was too strict.

The three sides of the milk debate recently met with politicians at the Idaho Capitol to try and iron out their differences.

The Boise Weekly showed up at the meeting, but was asked to leave. It was closed to the public and press, which is legal because it was not an official Legislative meeting.


How Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World

Recent research indicates that organic farming can feed the world, and is actually making a significant difference everywhere. In the United States and Europe, universities are reporting that organically produced food will address the problems of hunger and poverty facing the world’s growing population. This is not a surprising finding for organic farmers and advocates of organic agricultural production. The American worldview of agriculture is, in fact, making a radical shift.

In 1990 sociologists Curtis Beus and Riley Dunlap wrote a fascinating description of paradigms in agriculture in an article entitled “Conventional versus Alternative Agriculture: The Paradigmatic Roots of the Debate”. The authors define conventional agriculture in the 20th century as: "Capital-intensive, large-scale, highly mechanized agriculture with monocultures of crops and extensive use of artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, with intensive animal husbandry". They go on to say that the “discussion of conven tional agriculture as presented in this paper will include the agri business suppliers of farm inputs and the marketers of farm output. This is done because of the integral interdependence between the production sector and the supply and marketing sectors of modern agribusiness”. It is often referred to as industrial agriculture.


'Crop Mob' volunteers help small farms in North Carolina

Reporting from Moncure, N.C. - "Hey! Crop Mob! Over here!"

Rob Jones, his boots smeared with mud, was trying to get the attention of a ragged group of young men and women dressed in jeans and work boots. They were toting shovels and rakes as they stomped across a barren field toward a plot of freshly turned earth.

This was Crop Mob, a roving band of volunteers dedicated to helping young farmers build sustainable small farms. It's a modern version of a barn-raising, with volunteers brought together by Google and Facebook.


Amish farmer wins fight over registering livestock

NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- An Amish livestock farmer who refused to follow a 2005 Wisconsin law requiring him to register his land and livestock has won a legal battle with state regulators.

Clark County Circuit Judge Jon Counsell on Tuesday ruled in favor of Emanuel Miller Jr., of Loyal, who was accused of violating the law meant to help regulators track animal diseases.

Some Amish say the tracking system would amount to the "mark of the beast" mentioned in the Bible as being related to Satan.


Local debate about raw milk runs deep

Raw milk products became a regular part of the Clark family's diet about a year ago when they decided to start eating organically, sustainably and locally.

"It just tastes better. It's a taste thing at this point," Katia Clark said. "It's also just taking pride in our community and thinking locally."

While it's a time-consuming process, Clark makes feta, mozzarella and ricotta cheese from Organic Pastures Fresh Raw Dairy milk, one of two raw milk dairies in California. She said she likes to know what is in her food and how it is made, so it's worth the extra time and preparation.


Alaska cheese makers seeking lesser regulations

JUNEAU, Alaska - Alaska's small dairy producers are seeking exemptions in proposed regulations that appear to be geared for the industrial scale.

The Legislature's regulation review committee heard from dairy processors and small-scale dairy farmers Monday. They say the rules appear too burdensome and stifle an already meager commercial potential.

Kristin Ryan, head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation's division covering sanitary food, defended the new regulations as accessible. She said three operations — of which two are "mom-and-pop" farmers — have already been permitted under the proposed regulations, albeit with compromises.


Raw Milk Sales Controversial in Wisconsin

There will be debate in Eau Claire, Wisconsin today about whether the state should legalize the sale of raw milk. It, unlike milk on the store shelves, is not pasteurized, or heated, to kill bacteria that may be present. Wisconsin has required, since 1957 that all milk sold here be pasteurized to prevent people from possibly becoming ill. But some say it’s time for the state to allow a different perspective. WUWM News Intern Andy Ambrosius has more.

State Representative Chris Danou of Trempealeau in western Wisconsin says he drank raw milk as a kid. He recalls that it tasted different, richer, than milk his family bought at the store. Danou is now proposing that Wisconsin legalize the sale of unpasteurized milk, as long as the Agriculture Department creates rules about its handling. Under his plan, farmers could only sell raw milk directly to consumers. 


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