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News for March 19, 2010

Dreamers and Doers: Trying to save the family farm

Karen Hutchinson loves food.

She hands over a Caledon-grown head of garlic and describes its virtues, notably its flavourful taste. She loves the countryside and the riches of the land.

But she worries about family farms disappearing when it’s hard to make a living and the land is more valuable for development.

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Idaho raw milk bill would allow cow share arrangements

A bill moving through Idaho's House of Representatives could effectively end the debate over raw milk sales in the state.

House Bill 675 would amend Idaho law to provide for acquisition of raw milk and raw milk products by owners and establishes terms for cow shares, sheep shares and goat shares.

After a pending rule on raw milk, negotiated by Idaho State Department of Agriculture, was rejected in the Senate and a concurrent resolution was not acted on in the House, lawmakers called for interested parties to meet and work out their differences.

The bill would allow for acquisition of raw milk or raw milk products to animal share members from no more than seven cows, 15 sheep or 15 goats, stating such acquisitions do not constitute a sale.

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Farmers Could Soon Be Able to Sell Raw Milk

Dairy farmers are one step closer to being allowed to sell raw milk.

A state Senate committee approved the law yesterday.

Raw milk hasn't been sold before because it could carry disease-causing organisms like salmonella and e-coli.

Some farmers have been pushing for the bill, because it would be a way to make extra money.

Under the law, in order for them to sell raw milk they would have to get a special permit, consent to regular testing and have a sign that clearly states the milk is unpasteurized.

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B.C. Supreme Court judges raw milk a health hazard

In a controversial ruling the The Supreme Court of British Columbia granted the Fraser Health Authority an inunction against a B.C. farm called Home on the Range, shutting down the farm's raw milk production. Justice Miriam Gropper wrote in a statement that farm owner and operator, Alice Jongerden was "willingly causing a health hazard" through her activities.

Jongerden used the share-holder system developed by Ontario raw milk producer, Michael Schmitd. Jongerden added value to her service by providing share-holders with cream, butter and yogurt as well as the raw milk. One unconfirmed source said Jongeden's battle with health authorities began after a baby, allegedly given the raw milk, contracted a gastro-intestinal illness.

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USDA and NSF International 2010 Food Safety Education Conference to Attract over 600 Food Safety Experts

Newswise — More than 600 public health professionals, health care providers, educators, industry representatives, communicators, and associations will convene March 23-26, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga., for an important food safety education conference. Hosted by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the nonprofit, public health organization NSF International, this conference will focus on identifying communication and education strategies to increase the public’s knowledge of the causes of foodborne illnesses and improve food safety practices.

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B.C.'s highest court grants injunction against unpasteurized Chilliwack dairy

The B.C. Supreme Court has backed the Fraser Health Authority's permanent injunction to shut down an unpasterurized Chilliwack dairy.

Justice Miriam Gropper's approval will prevent Home on the Range from processing, packaging and distributing milk to its shareholders.

A spokesperson for the Federal Health Authority said they are pleased that the court ruled in their favour.

“The risk of disease from consuming these unpasteurized products is high and can cause serious illness in people, especially young children, older folks and people with weakened immune systems,” the agency stated.

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Senate Ag Committee Unanimously Passes Raw Milk Bill

Members of Wisconsin's Senate Ag Committee have given their blessing to a proposal what would allow state dairy farmers sell raw milk to consumers. According to the bill's co-sponsors, Senator Pat Kreitlow and Rep. Chris Danou, the policy now includes an amendment drafted by Committee Chair Senator Kathleen Vinehout that requires farmers to obtain a license from the Department of Agriculture, and must adhere to regular testing.

"Today's vote is a great example of politics working at the grassroots level," Kreitlow said. "After hearing hours of testimony from hundreds of concerned citizens on both sides of the issue last week, legislators from both parties got together and worked out a compromise that allows families who wish to purchase raw milk to do so, while ensuring that concerns about public health are taken seriously."

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Health authority wins case to shut down raw dairy

B.C.'s highest court has ordered a dairy farm in the Fraser Valley that sells unpasturized dairy to stop packaging or distributing its raw milk products.

The Fraser Health Authority first sought an injunction against Alice Jongerden, owner of the cow-share co-op Home on the Range in Chilliwack, on Feb. 1 -- two months after health authorities handed over cease and desist orders and forced depots to dump bottles of its milk.

The sale of raw milk has been prohibited in Canada since 1991, with health agencies saying it is a known health hazard. Cow-share operations like Jongerden's have sidestepped the law by allowing members to buy into their organization -- making them part owners of the animals. Jongerden distributed her raw dairy products, including cream, yogurt and milk, to members through various depots in Metro Vancouver.

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Unique recipes using blue cheese

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A different kind of CSA? Maybe.

Every year about this time I start to experience a guilt trip about not joining a CSA. The idea is appealing: Pay the farmer a set fee in advance, and each week, you get a box of whatever is freshest from farm that week.

What I appreciate in theory doesn't work in practice, not for me. Some weekends, I plan a dinner party and there's not enough to feed my guests. Some weekends I get out of town and my haul rots in the fridge. And, if I'm completely honest, some weeks I just don't feel like eating zucchini – high season or no.

A new local delivery service, Arganica Farm Club, tries to smooth out a CSA's rough edges. You order as much or as little as you want, when you want it. Pulling from the capital-area foodshed, Arganica offers fruits and vegetables plus fresh seafood, grass-fed meat, small-batch roasted coffee, bread and pastries, pasta, even locally made beer, wine and seltzer. In its efforts to outshine the traditional CSA, Arganica uses recyclable, handmade wooden crates, picks up your compost and hands out free local food magazines (Flavor, Edible Blue Ridge, etc).

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