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News for March 17, 2010

Public radio quiz show to broadcast from Eau Claire

For his road shows, Michael Feldman tailors "Whad'Ya Know?" to the host city.

So when the popular Wisconsin Public Radio show visits Eau Claire this weekend, expect banter about the Blugold mascot, raw milk and the jail.

"It's totally a local show," Feldman said during a telephone interview. "The monologue is all about local issues."

"Whad'Ya Know" will broadcast before a live audience Saturday morning at The State Theatre. The show can be heard from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday on WHWC-FM (88.3).

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Local slaughterhouses come back to life

HARRISONBURG, VA. -- Huddled in a small pen in the slaughterhouse, the four sheep and two goats were quiet and still. A few men nearby in thick rubber aprons cut away at still-warm carcasses hanging on hooks.

"They don't seem to know what's going on," a visitor remarked.

"Oh, they know," one of the butchers replied. "They know."

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Lobby group serves raw milk to protest modernization act

Many Senators, along with the public, are deeming the United States’ food safety system unfit and calling for passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, but one group of small sustainable farmers is fighting against it.

During a rally on March 10, the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, comprised of a group of Amish farmers who run small, sustainable, organic farms, petitioned against Senate Bill 510 at the U.S. Senate.

The group, whose mission is to "promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade," served raw, unpasteurized milk to Senate staff and food advocates to portray their view that unregulated food can be safe, according to Food Safety News.

Raw milk has been one of the main food examples in the call for stricter food safety regulations. Raw milk can potentially carry disease-causing organisms such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter because it is not pasteurized, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature in order to kill harmful bacteria. Raw milk advocates claim pasteurization does not make milk any safer and instead removes nutrients and alters taste.

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Raw milk bill passes Senate Ag committee unanimously

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education Wednesday passed legislation unanimously that would allow for the sale of raw milk.

With an amendment to the original bill, the end result is that farmers who wish to sell raw milk on their own farm will be able to do so.

The farmers will have to secure a license from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.  That registration will also require the dairy farmers to adhere to regular testing.

Additionally, the farmer will have to clearly label every bottle as unpasteurized and include both the producer's name and license number.

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Modified Wisconsin raw milk legislation moves ahead

State legislation to allow the sale of raw farm milk to the general public moved a step forward Wednesday with some key changes, including the removal of an immunity clause for farmers.

By a 5-0 vote, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education recommended approval of the bill that would allow raw milk sales direct from farms licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The legislation is expected to be voted on by the full Assembly and Senate before the session ends in April.

Under the latest version of Senate Bill 434, raw milk sales could only take place at farms where the milk was produced.

Farmers would have to post a sign declaring that raw milk does not provide the benefits of pasteurization and may contain disease-causing pathogens, and warns certain people of other health risks.

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EU food safety agency says most raw chicken in Europe carries food-poisoning bugs

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union's food safety agency says most chicken sold in Europe is infected with bacteria that can cause food poisoning if the meat is not cooked thoroughly.

In a report Wednesday, scientists said 76 per cent of chicken they tested at slaughterhouses in 2008 was infected with campylobacter and another 16 per cent had salmonella.

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Delauro sees U.S. food safety law in 2010

(Reuters) - Congress will pass a new law to overhaul the antiquated U.S. food safety system by the end of the year, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, an influential House lawmaker, said on Wednesday.

The first major reform of the system in 50 years could be followed by another close look at how meat and poultry are inspected, and the changes may create friction with trade partners, said the chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

"I have every confidence that we are going to pass food safety legislation and this legislation is going to get to the president for a signature and that that's going to happen this year," said Connecticut Democrat DeLauro, who was speaking at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

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DOJ's Holder calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement in Agriculture

Ankeny, IA - There are moments in a nation's history that define it. For America's remaining 2 million farmers (less than 1% of the population) and the more than 300 million eaters, the recent joint Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture workshop on lack of competition in the food and agricultural sectors held in Ankeny, Iowa is potentially one of those moments.

With concentration at record levels in agriculture today, well past levels that encourage or even allow fair prices or competition, the Obama administration's call for public workshops is an historic event. While agribusiness continues to deny any problem, a simple look at the facts shows that the playing field for family farmers and American consumers is distorted beyond anything resembling a free or competitive market.

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Appellate Court Decision for Meadowsweet Dairy

March 11, 2010
by D. Gary Cox, Esq.

The Appellate Division of the Third Department in the State of New York issued a decision today in the Meadowsweet Dairy case involving Steve and Barbara Smith.  According to the Third Department, anyone who eats, drinks or uses up food is a "consumer" and, in the context of raw dairy products, a license or permit is required before the producer of such raw dairy can make such food available to a "consumer."  The Third Department also held that even if the producer gives away the raw dairy to a consumer, a permit or license is required to give the food away.  "This decision stands the notion of freedom of choice on its head" said Fund President Pete Kennedy.  "Basically, anybody who owns a cow and who wants to give the milk from that cow away to a neighbor, to another family member, or to a visiting relative must have the permission of the State of New York in order to do that" Kennedy said.  "It is hard to believe the court has ruled that the State can regulate this sort of private conduct."

The decision is the result of an appeal by the Smiths and Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC of an earlier decision by a lower court that held anyone who uses up, drinks, or consumes raw milk and raw dairy products is a "consumer."  The Smiths and the LLC argued on appeal to the Third Department that a "consumer" must mean something more than the mere act of consuming or drinking, and instead should mean a consumer in the ordinary course of a business transaction.  "Obviously, this court believes that the State is in a better position to know what foods a person should or should not eat" said General Counsel Gary Cox, who argued the case for the Smiths and the LLC.  "I feel sorry for every citizen of the State of New York" said Cox "because their freedom and liberty to consume the foods of their choice has been supplanted by the government."

The Smiths and the LLC are discussing whether to appeal the decision.  In a quirk of fate, the decision is binding on all counties that comprise the Third Department, yet the Smiths live in and the LLC operates in a county that is outside of the Third Department.

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