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Wyoming Lawmakers Consider Allowing Raw Milk Sales

State lawmakers in Wyoming are considering allowing dairy farmers to sell raw milk in store.

State lawmakers in Wyoming are considering allowing dairy farmers to sell raw milk in store.

State lawmakers in Wyoming are considering allowing dairy farmers to sell raw milk in store.

Wyoming is considering allowing grocery stores to sell raw milk. State lawmakers tasked their Joint Agriculture Interim Committee with exploring the idea of allowing retail raw dairy sales in grocery stores. Committee members will research how other states are adapting their laws and regulating their raw milk sales. If the Wyoming raw milk committee officials decide that legislation in another state could be mirrored successfully, a new bill could be drafted in time for the 2014 session.

In December state officials lifted the ban on unpasteurized milk sales – at least somewhat. Residents are now currently permitted to engage in herd-share agreements. Such agreements allow raw milk customers to pay money to help care for the cow in order to garner a portion of its milk.

Republican Senator Gerald Geis is the chairman of the Agriculture Interim Committee. The Wyoming Senator noted that while growing up during the 1930s and 1940s, he saw people become ill and even die after drinking raw milk. While he wants to discover a way to end the ongoing and often passionate debate about raw milk, Senator Geis stated the he is still worried about the consequences making unpasteurized milk readily available. When asked about the possibility of raw milk being sold commercially he said, “I have a lot of concerns. But we can only protect people so much from themselves. ”

Some health professionals feel that milk is only safe to drink after it has been heated to kill bacteria. However, raw milk activists often cite the improved taste and health benefits of unpasteurized dairy when working to overturn restrictive guidelines. As a result, lawmakers in some states have reduced the stronghold that health boards and agricultural agencies have long held in regards to milk pasteurization guidelines. Dairy farmer Frank Wallis maintains that when vitamin D is removed during the pasteurization process, milk companies add the vitamin back in ways that are not always natural. Wallis started a herd-sharing operation over three years ago and maintains that none of his patrons have become ill after drinking the raw milk. The Wyoming dairy farmer follows a fairly common method of raw milk collection. After garnering the milk from his cows, he pours the liquid through a filter and then examines the milk for hair, dirt, or other possible contaminants. If Wallis sees anything other than milk inside container, he discards the entire batch. Once per month the farmer sends a milk sample to a lab in Colorado for examination. The inspectors run tests for E.coli, salmonella, listeria, and other known pathogens. Platelets are also counted to help determine cow health. According to the farmer, all the lab results on his raw milk have come back clean.

 

Prior attempts to make raw milk sales legal in Wyoming have failed. Health officials are reportedly concerned more illnesses from arise from increased access to unpasteurized dairy products. State Epidemiologist Dr. Tracy Murphy claims that it is illogical to dispute reports that raw milk poses a health risk. Dr. Murphy also added, “If there are people who own dairy farms and they are able to handle raw milk in a way that minimizes the risk to their family and they are able to consume it quickly, we are certainly not against anybody’s right to do that. But when it’s sold, then you have the whole issue of putting other people at risk.”

Raw milk advocates continue to work in states all across America to end the prohibition of unpasteurized dairy sales. As previously noted by Off The Grid News, dairy farmers in multiple states have faced criminal charges and stiff fines over raw milk production and sales.

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One comment

  1. Drank raw milk 40 years ago whenever our neighbors had more than they could use. As a child, I enjoyed the flavor and the task of churning excess cream into butter. Never heard of any of the local farmers getting sick from doing so. Of course these cows were hand milked. Only complaints we had were when the cows ate wild onions and milk ended up with bad flavor.
    If commercialized, obvious safeguards need to be in place for equipment, livestock, storage and careful procedures overall.

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