The Vermont Legislature has opted NOT to expand the sale of raw milk by its loud and active small dairy farmers. Had the dairy farmers expressed just a tad bit more concern for the harm raw milk might do to consumers, they might have done better with lawmakers. Take for example this quote from Amy Shollenberger is the executive director of Rural Vermont, a Montpelier-based nonprofit organization, and lobbyist for the dairy farmers:
"Listeria is everywhere. People get listeria from drinking tap water," Shollenberger says. "If you follow their logic, you wouldn’t be able to consume anything safely unless it was cooked."
That’s about as good as telling the Legislature that "Sh*t Happens!"
Peter Hirschfeld, writing for the Vermont Press Bureau, did a fine wrap up on Vermont’s legislative battle over raw milk. Here’s his summary of the action:
On Thursday, lawmakers squashed a bill that would have allowed farmers to sell unlimited quantities of unpasteurized milk. Supporters of the bill called it a watershed measure that would have bolstered local economies and significantly improved prospects for small- and mid-size dairy operations in the state.
But public health officials and the Agency of Agriculture worried about bacterial outbreaks that could accompany increased raw milk consumption.
Citing concerns over how raw-milk dealers would be certified, licensed and regulated, the House Agriculture Committee had struck the bill down, replacing it with legislation that will increase the limit from 25 to 50 quarts a day. The Legislature also told Agency of Agriculture officials to lift the advertising ban, saying the state lacks the statutory authority to impose it.
For now, farmers like Elliot will have to delay their plans to develop retail raw-milk businesses. But the Legislature is likely to reconsider the original proposal next year. And the increase in the sales limit, supporters says, is an important step toward the potential windfall that awaits small farms seeking to profit from the purported demand for raw milk in the state.
There’s more here.