Total Pageviews

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ohioans Restore Legality of Raw Milk Sales

This will appear in the May 9th editions of the Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News and Cleveland Plain Dealer

In 1997, a bill was passed in Ohio banning the sales and consumption of raw milk. Over the last year the Ohio Department or Agriculture has been implementing various approaches to fully enforce that law. Raw milk enthusiasts from the across the state are gathering in Columbus on Wednesday, May 10th, to testify for the legal restoration before the House Agriculture Committee.

While raw milk has been associated with some illnesses, it has been very difficult to blame the product itself, but rather the culprit is the handling of the product. While other products may have a higher opportunity for contamination, i.e. salad bars, raw milk has been singled out as the one food product to be banned. Actually, the farmer is banned from drinking raw milk from his own cows.

Recent statistics show that the average farmer family consumes 1½ gallons of the banned substance. Would farmers allow their families to consume raw milk if they believed in any way their production and collection processes weren't sufficient to eliminate any health concerns?

Many Ohio consumers call this a consumer rights issue. The state does have the right to insure public health my implementing laws to protect all of us. But in this case, the ODA has chosen not to view the farmer as being banned from that consuming. The farmer is still allowed to consume milk from his own animal. If the product is bad for the citizens, it is bad for the farmer. It can't be a real public health issue if the farmers are allowed to continue to consume their own product. So this is a rights issue.

While there is evidence of some illnesses related to raw milk, there are growing volumes of testimonies showing how raw milk has improved health including improvement of chronic illnesses. Raw milk's enzymes and healthy bacteria complement the body's ability to heal itself. Recently testimonies relate improvements in dental health, asthma, eczema, Lyme disease, Gillian-Barre and digestion; fewer doctor visits; and reduction of pharmacy products. (One Ohio group documented on a DVD the testimonies of 21 different families who have experienced improved health they contribute to the consumption of raw milk.) One Californian dairy incorporates their customers' testimonies in their public advertising – "Got Lactose Intolerance? Got Frequent Cold? Got Allergies? Get Raw Milk".

The benefits of raw milk consumption have been documented in the past. The Mayo Clinic used a raw milk diet to promote healing. "For fifteen years, I have employed the so-called [raw] milk treatment in various diseases … the results obtained have been so uniformly excellent that one's conception of disease and its alleviation is necessarily modified." Dr. Crew, Mayo Foundation, Minnesota. In 1928, an Ohio State Professor noted that, "The dividing line between a food and a medicine sometimes becomes almost invisible. In many diseases nothing heals the body and restores strength like [raw] milk." Dr. J. F. Lyman, Prof. Of Agriculture Chemistry.

With the threat of raw milk sales in Ohio being banned, Ohioans have turned to purchases from adjacent states. Others are even having the product mailed from prohibitive driving distances. Ohio sales receipts are therefore transferred out of state.

Raw milk is the gateway product for many farmers because consumers will purchase other farm products during their visit. Loss of raw milk sales has a dramatic impact on farm sales. We are losing farms weekly in Ohio. What an economic loss! The sale of raw milk could help reverse that trend.

The ODA has conducted sting operations against Ohio farmers. In one case the ODA, revoked the license of an Amish farmer for violating labeling laws because that farmer accepted $2 for providing a gallon of milk to an ODA undercover agent in an unlabeled container furnished by the agent. While public outrage over the actions of the ODA in entrapping the farmer has moved the agency to issue the farmer a new license, the ODA is still seeking a permanent injunction restraining the farmer from "any violations" of Ohio's dairy code. A trial on the injunction is scheduled for late June.

Several months ago, Representative Arlene Setzer, Dayton, introduced the Raw Milk Bill, HR534, which would restore the legality of purchasing and consuming raw milk. It allows raw milk to be purchased from the Grade A Licensed dairy farms. By having consumers go to the farm, they witness the health of the cows and have a relationship with the farmer producing their raw milk. Since the milk will not be further processed, it is important that the consumer trust the farmer's ability to handle the product with sufficient care avoiding introduction of any contaminants.

The first public hearing for this bill is Wednesday. May 10th, in Room 116 of the State House. Concerned raw milk consumers are coming from across the state to communicate their desire to have raw milk's ban lifted in Ohio and restore raw milk sales to the legal standing before the 1997 bill. Over half of the other states in the nation provide for the legal sale of raw milk. Ohio consumers want the same right restored to them.

For additional Real Raw Milk information – WANTMILK.ORG.

No comments: