Why Is Raw Milk ILLEGAL In Montana?
by Shari Dovale
(Redoubt News) – In 1987, the FDA mandated pasteurization of all milk and milk products for human consumption, effectively banning the shipment of raw milk in interstate commerce with the exception of cheese made from raw milk, provided the cheese has been aged a minimum of 60 days and is clearly labeled as unpasteurized.
This action was done under the premise of health concerns, yet data from multiple sources contend that raw milk consumption is healthier than drinking the government mandated pasteurized product.
An estimated 10 million people drink raw milk nationally. Out of these approximately 10 million raw milk consumers, approximately 130 allegedly become sick each year from raw milk nationwide, or 0.001% per year.
While the main argument by the FDA is that it has a higher chance of having Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria bacteria, the same can be said for many types of sushi and unpasteurized cider, believe it or not.
There are many health benefits of raw milk. Some of them stem from what the milk doesn’t have in it. Raw milk from pasture fed cows is devoid of toxins, hormones, antibiotics and many of the other unhealthy chemicals added to the diets (and thus found in the milk) of mainstream cows. These are the cows that are used by big business and forced to overproduce milk.
Still, the government’s war on natural raw milk continues. How did the sale of one of nature’s most perfect foods become a crime? And why is it legal to sell uncooked meat and raw seafood but unprocessed milk can be more difficult to obtain than marijuana?
Because milk is big business. And pasteurization is a necessary element to dairy consolidation, as it permits milk to be stored and transported over long periods and distances.
Raw milk is legal for sale in grocery stores in 10 states, including Idaho, Washington, and California. Approximately two dozen more states allow for on-farm sales, other direct-to-consumer sales, and/or herd shares.
Now, Montana citizens want to be on that list. Current Montana law prohibits raw milk sales.
The proponents are facing huge opposition in the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association and their well-funded lobbyists.
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R-Hamilton) introduced House Bill 325 (HB325) which would authorize limited sales of raw milk from producer to consumer.
The House passed HB325 by a 69-30 vote on Feb 22. But earlier this week, the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee voted to table the legislation. Sen. Eric Moore (R-Miles City) made the motion to kill the bill.
However, there is still a chance to resurrect this bill. The committee meets Tuesday, April 4, and Thursday, April 6. The committee could vote to take the bill back off the table for consideration.
Advocates have been pushing for this bill since 2012. Since the Montana State Legislature only meets every other year, if the lobbyists are successful, it will be another two years before the people can make themselves heard.
It is crucial that the citizens of Montana call their legislators and sound off. Please contact the committee members and urge them to revive the legislation. You can find contact information here. You can email the entire committee here.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is lobbying for passage of HB325. The organization has set up an online petition here.
Every voice will help! Let your elected representatives know how you feel.
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We have been raising Nigerian Dwarf goats since moving to the Redoubt in 2013. We milk them and drink their milk after filtering and chilling. I only pasteurize the milk I use for making homemade yogurt (sine it its at 110 degrees for 12 hours while it cultures.) We have not had any problems with food borne illness with our raw milk. I do vaccinate my goats and the vet tested for brucellosis.
These goats are very sweet animals, and they get petted and a kiss on the top of their heads regularly. I am sure that my entire family has been exposed to “goat germs” and have developed antibodies to them by now — the same way ANY pet owner develops antibodies to the bacteria carried on their pets. Our bodies were designed to do this — we were not designed to live in a sterile world.
Raw milk HAS to be drunk while fresh. As a living product, it develops off odors and tastes after 2-3 days in refrigeration. Pasteurization was promoted as a way to allow commercial producers to pool milk from many different farms and allow for the mass distribution of milk.