EDITORIAL: Legal raw milk would give farmers, consumers choices
By The Dunn County News
Raw milk was in the news last week, and Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) and Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) are leading the way, drumming up support for a bill that would legalize and regulate the sale of raw milk in Wisconsin.
The bill would let Grade A dairy farms sell raw milk to informed consumers.
That’s a reasonable proposal. It would let Wisconsin dairy farmers who want in on the raw milk market, such as it might be, to participate legally. Half the states in the country already do so.
The status quo is untenable, with dairy farmers and consumers trying to get around the state’s ban on raw milk sales by means of share agreements that make a consumer a part “owner” of a farm or a cow.
Raw milk sales won’t be a panacea for a struggling dairy industry: The vast majority of Wisconsin farmers won’t benefit from this small market. But that’s no reason to keep those who wish to sell raw milk to informed consumers from doing so.
The “informed consumer” part is an important part of the equation. There’s a reason we pasteurize milk, and people who raise concerns about protecting our safe supply of moo juice have legitimate points.
Fans of raw milk tout its reputed health benefits, and proponents of allowing its sale like to compare it to other raw food products like spinach and carrots. Unfortunately, that comparison is less than apt: Consumers can wash raw vegetables. They can’t wash milk. And the other products of the south end of a cow are milk-soluble.
But as raw milk proponents are quick to point out, generations of Wisconsinites grew up on raw milk, and it’s still being drunk safely by farm families across the state.
So we welcome a new food choice for which demand seems to be growing, a choice for which two words commonly applied to business transactions seem perfectly appropriate: Caveat emptor.