Friday, March 12, 2010

Fighting for real milk - fighting for personal liberties and freedom

Hundreds pack raw milk hearing in Eau Claire

Hours of testimony
Wednesday's hearing at Chippewa Valley Technical College attracted about 450 people - most of them raw milk supporters who arrived by the busload. Testimony began about 10 a.m. and continued for more than 10 hours. Speakers included farmers, consumers, scientists and state and federal officials.

What happens here will send a message to the rest of the nation, said Kimberly Hartke, spokeswoman for the Weston A. Price Foundation, which touts the benefits of raw milk and says the risk of illness from it is minimal.

Currently, about 25 states allow some form of raw milk sales."Wisconsin is a bellwether state for us," Hartke said.

Ted Beals, a retired pathologist from the University of Michigan, said raw milk sales should be allowed."There is a very large and expanding group of well-informed families that very much want to have their milk fresh, unprocessed and whole, and they prefer to get it from a farmer they know," Beals said in an interview. "It's very personal," he said. "I can't think of another reason to get people more upset than to tell them that the food they believe is very nutritious and essential to their health is going to be denied them."

Advocates say raw milk contains nutrients, enzymes and bacteria that boost the immune system and can prevent allergies. Some even say it helps control asthma or autism.

"I am not making claims that our milk is going to cure cancer or anything else. You only know what it's going to do for you when you try it yourself," said Janet Brunner, whose dairy farm in Pepin County sold raw milk for nearly 10 years until running into opposition from state regulators.

For dozens of small farms in the state, raw milk sales have been an economic elixir, and they have built a loyal customer base while avoiding prosecution. The Brunners had more than 600 customers who paid about $5 a gallon for unpasteurized milk from their farm.

When they stopped selling it, Janet Brunner said, the farm store's income plummeted by 90%. "Now we are not earning enough to pay our bills, let alone support our farm," she said.

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