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New farmers alliance champions raw milk


Article from the Norwich Bulletin

Earlier this year, local raw milk and cheese producers faced a ticking time bomb in a legislative bill sure to put them out of business if passed.

But a mere four months later, things are looking up for local farms. Not only has the bill, which would have banned the sale of raw milk in retail stores, died in committee, but the producers have teamed up with several legislators in an alliance to protect farms and dairy production across the state.

The formation of the Connecticut Alliance for Raw and Farmstead Dairy Products was announced last week.

Led by state Rep. Diana Urban, D-Stonington, and joined by several other state legislators, including state Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, the alliance advocates for farms by working with regulatory agencies.

Urban was one of the leading legislators in the fight against the bill, which died in the General Assembly’s Environment Committee.

Urban said the only way the bill could be brought up again this year is if another legislator adds it as an amendment to another bill. She said she and the farmers are watching for this, and has vowed to fight any bill the amendment is attached to.

Chris Newton, owner of Baldwin Brook Farm in Canterbury and a member of the alliance, said the group has registered as a nonprofit and will focus on education about raw milk production. The alliance also plans to develop a manual of best management practices that are scientifically based.

Liz Gillman, co-owner of Cato Corner Farm in Colchester, who has joined the alliance, said she hopes it will open the discussion about raw milk and make the industry more visible.

“I want to be out in the open,” Gillman said. “I don’t like the, ‘Oh, raw milk, how scary.’ “

Newton said he and other farmers received an “unbelievable amount of support” during the legislative process. Though glad the bill was defeated, Newton said he sees it as an opportunity to ensure producers are following the most efficient and sanitary practices.

“We don’t see this as a success,” Newton said. “We see this as a wake-up call.”

Where to call
For information about the Connecticut Alliance for Raw and Farmstead Dairy Products, call state Rep. Diana Urban, D-Stonington, at (860) 240-8585.

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