New York State officials are out with a warning not to drink "raw milk" from the Breese Hollow Dairy in Hoosick Falls.

The diary is allowed to sell raw or "unpasteurized" milk on the farm and is subject to regular inspections by the NY Department of Agriculture.

Recent testing, however, turned up possible Listeria contamination in Breese Hollow "raw milk."  The sample that was positive for Listeria was collected sometime last month.   The dairy will not be allowed to make further sales of "raw milk" until its cleared by future testing.

"Raw Milk" cannot be sold for human consumption in 21 states.  CNN recently reported that:

"… it is illegal to sell raw milk in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming."

There are , however, loopholes in some states with prohibitions, such as allowing the sale of so-called "cow shares" that enable the co-owners to all purchase raw milk and many states, like New York, Kansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin, that permit on the farm sales of small quantities.

We fully understand why dairy farmers are tempted to get into "raw milk" sales.   Milk prices, especially at the farm, have collapsed during the past nine months.   Recent payments to dairy farmers are down 35 percent at about $1.04 per gallon.

“In Pennsylvania and New York, they’re getting anywhere from $8 to $12 a gallon,” says lawmaker Nelson Albano. “So if a local dairy farmer here in New Jersey was selling raw milk, he’d be able to get at least that much, so they definitely would be making more money, and that would be a great benefit.”

New Jersey lawmakers are currently considering dropping the Garden State ban on raw milk sales.

U.S. milk production is measured in "million of pounds" based on reports from 23 dairy states to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).   Each gallon of milk weighs 8.59 pounds.  First quarter production was off a mere 0.5 percent at 47,351 million pounds in 2009, down from 47,610 a year earlier.

The fact that the huge price collapse has not had much impact on production levels has both dairy farmers and USDA thinking about more drastic actions.   Some dairy farmers are dumping milk on the ground and USDA is offering payments for reducing herds.

What we cannot find are any estimates on how much milk sold "raw" versus pasteurized.  We suspect that even with the prospect of making $12 per gallon,  "raw milk" remains a very small percentage of the total market.  ( But the amount of those "raw milk" sales is something that somebody should be tracking.)

A buck a gallon is not enough for the nation’s dairy farmers who supply safe, pasteurized milk for Americans and many others from around the world.