News for February 7, 2011
Dairies seek to deliver raw milk
Two raw-milk farms south of Boston are among 27 statewide that stand to benefit from legislation that would allow farms to deliver the product directly to their customers.
The bill, filed last month, would loosen current state regulations that allow raw, or unpasteurized, milk to be sold only on farm property where the cows are kept — a restriction that can mean a long trip for a few glasses of milk for the consumer.
[ READ MORE (Boston Globe) ]
Oregon House Ag Committee hears lots of debate about raw milk, farmers' markets
Everyone knows there's a big difference between the family farmer who sells berry preserves at a local farmers' market and the mega- grower who sells to supermarkets nationwide. But there was some debate inside the Oregon capitol Wednesday over whether the state should ease some regulations on the small guys.
House Bill 2336 proposes to ease state licensing requirements for farmers who sell small quantities of certain products -- think pickles or preserves -- directly to consumers at local markets or through coops.
[ READ MORE (Oregonian) ]
Raw milk bill sparks heated debate
Oregon Farm Bureau lobbyist Katie Fast said she didn't want the 2011 Legislature to turn into a forum pitting small farmers against big ones.
Day two of the session turned into just that.
[ READ MORE (Capital Press) ]
Minnesota Introduces Bill to Ease Raw Milk Restrictions
Amidst increasing crackdowns on the sale of raw milk in many states, some are pushing for legalization. Minnesota is the latest state to consider an easing of restrictions on the sale of this controversial beverage. Raw milk sales are currently legal in Minnesota so long as they are on-farm and direct-to-consumer, but three Republican Senators introduced legislation Thursday that would allow the sale of raw milk in Minnesota farmers' markets as well as through deliveries to consumers and buying clubs.
Advocates are thrilled by this idea. After a crackdown on metropolitan buying clubs, raw milk devotees must drive long distances to buy their milk on the farm itself. Being able to buy at a farmers' market or allowing the farmer to deliver would maintain that face-to-face accountability, but allow for a great deal more flexibility.
[ READ MORE (Change.org) ]
Amish Smugglers' Shady Milk Run
Wearing a black-brimmed country hat, suspenders and an Amish beard, "Samuel" unloaded his contraband from an unmarked white truck on a busy block in Manhattan. He was at the tail end of a long smuggling run that had begun before dawn at his Pennsylvania farm.
As he wearily stacked brown cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, a few upscale clients in the Chelsea neighborhood lurked nearby, eyeing the new shipment hungrily.
[ READ MORE (The Daily) ]
The Raw Milk Debate: Which Side Are You On?
This just in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Many people believe that foods with minimal or no processing like organic and locally-grown foods are better for their health. But when people choose to drink raw milk, that is milk that has not been pasteurized, the impact on one’s health can be quite severe.”
It’s a timely article from the CDC since I just published a post about making ice cream with raw milk last week. Funny that I’m not sick from it.
[ READ MORE (Life is Fare) ]
How Government Regulations Hurt Small Farms
Recently, I was interviewed by a couple of bloggers about the challenges small family farms face with government regulation. It is very timely that I share it today, because just yesterday, a farmer having trouble with regulators just told me that she is having to re-tool her farm to sell totally different products. It will take her many months to get her new plan in place. How many farmers would have the energy and wherewithal to reinvent their entire farm when they run into roadblocks placed before them?
[ READ MORE (Natural News) ]
Raw-milk producers take the initiative on pathogen testing
A week ago, Pennsylvania dairy farmer Edwin Shank did something no other producer of raw milk in recent memory has seen fit to do: he halted sales to his more than 1,800 customers, without any urging by local regulators.
He made his decision based on private lab tests -- tests over and above those periodically conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture -- that showed the presence of the pathogen campylobacter in one sample. While no one has reported illnesses to Shank or state authorities in the three weeks since the questionable milk went out into the marketplace, the owner of The Family Cow, the largest raw dairy east of the Mississippi with 275 cows, said he took the step out of "an abundance of caution." [Updated, Feb. 3, 1:12 EST: On Thursday, Shank announced he had received two tests on more recent milk samples that showed no pathogens, and thus he planned to resume sales tomorrow.]
[ READ MORE (Grist) ]
Raw Milk Cheesemakers Fret Over Possible New Rules
Federal regulators are considering whether to tighten food safety rules for cheese made with unpasteurized milk — and the possibility has cheesemakers and foodies worried that the result will be cheese that is less tasty and not much safer.
The new proposals, which are expected in the next several months, come after a very tough year for this country’s fast-growing gourmet cheese industry, marked by recalls and two multistate E. coli outbreaks that sickened nearly 50 people.
[ READ MORE (NY Times) ]
FDA ramps up scrutiny on a new area: Cheese
In a filing in federal court two weeks ago, the U.S. attorney in Sacramento named as the defendant 97 wedges of Gouda cheese. The co-defendant was 14 blocks of white cheddar, including the sage, white pepper and onion varieties.
It was an apt, if odd, quirk in an arcane legal process, as the government took steps to seize the cheese - 40 tons of it. The Gouda and cheddar were made by Bravo Farms, a small artisanal cheesemaker whose award-winning morsels were linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illness that sickened at least 38 people. By invoking civil forfeiture law, the government could take immediate possession of the suspect cheese and prevent it from entering the food supply.
[ READ MORE (Washington Post) ]
The One Question the FDA and Its Media and Legal Apologists Are Afraid to Address in Their March to Trash Cheese Rule
When large government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration want to make controversial policy changes, they often use the major media to launch trial balloons to see how different options play with key constituencies.
That helps explain why both the New York Times and Washington Post came out Saturday with major articles about the FDA’s coming clampdown on raw milk cheese, and its likely trashing of the 60-day rule--the minimum aging of raw milk cheese for commercial sale. This is something I’ve been anticipating for a year now, and the day of the actual restrictions is drawing ever closer—likely within the next few months, according to the FDA’s friends at the major media.
[ READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]
Ed Shank Celebrates Being Back in Business Selling Raw Milk, and Becomes the "Ambassador' Scott Trautman Envisions
Ed Shank of The Family Cow in Pennsylvania, reported "good news" to his customers this afternoon.
"We just got the test results back from the lab literally minutes ago. Both samples taken different dates came back negative for Campy! Praise the Lord!"
[ READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]
As Raw Milk and Food Rights Initiatives Spread, It Becomes More Important to Watch Your Back; Food "Sovereignty" in VT?; How Much Am I Bid for Those Good-Looking Guys?
During the question-and-answer period following my talk at the Northeast Organic Food Association-NY conference in Saratoga last month--about the government-industry campaign to rid us of raw milk--a man piped up to say he ran a herdshare operation in New York, and was wondering about the Meadowsweet Dairy case.
A herdshare in New York state? That piqued my interest. I had thought Meadowsweet was the closest thing to a herdshare New York had, with its limited-liability-company organization. I had to let him know Meadowsweet hadn't done well in appeal--last fall it was denied its final option for appeal of a lower court decision that Meadowsweet couldn't operate outside the state's regulatory jurisdiction, with its 100-plus shareholders.
[ READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]