Wisconsin Gov. Doyle vetoes raw milk bill

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Madison, WA, May 19 – Citing health concerns, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed Senate Bill 434, legislation authorizing the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk at dairy farms. That decision comes after Doyle appeared ready to sign the measure into law last week.

National dairy organizations thanked Doyle today for vetoing a state bill that would have allowed raw milk sales direct to consumers in that state, saying that his action “demonstrates a commitment to health and safety,” according to the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association.

That decision comes a week after NMPF and IDFA issued a statement expressing concern that, absent Doyle’s veto, Wisconsin would join other states in allowing further distribution of raw milk, a product which “remains a demonstrable threat to people of all ages in every state,” the groups said today.

Federal law prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk, but allows states individual discretion to regulate raw milk sales within their borders.   Several states in recent years have loosened restrictions on the sales and marketing of raw milk, even as the product has been repeatedly linked to serious illnesses from coast to coast.

“Many other state dairy organizations in Wisconsin, along with the health professional community, made a major effort in the past week to provide some badly-needed perspective on the potentially deadly consequences if the state were to have passed this bill,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.  “On behalf of the national dairy producer sector, we appreciate the statement that Gov. Doyle is making by vetoing this bill.”

Connie Tipton, President and CEO of IDFA, said that Doyle’s decision “should serve as an example for other elected officials that what may be politically expedient and popular in some corners is not always in the ultimate best interest of consumers.”

Tipton noted that while raw milk represents less than 1% of fluid milk consumption, it causes over 70% of the food borne illness outbreaks in dairy.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, before pasteurization was widely instituted in the 1920s, disease outbreaks from raw milk were the No. 1 food safety concern in the country.