HELENA — A bill that would legalize the sale of raw milk from small unregulated dairies has gained the approval of the House and is moving through the Montana Legislature.

House Bill 574 supporters say the bill is part of a growing movement which encourages locally grown, organic food; farmer accountability; and personal responsibility. They say pasteurization strips milk of its healthy enzymes and are frustrated with the government's prohibition of the drink.

Critics include state regulators and federal agencies that warn raw milk contains dangerous bacteria and allowing unregulated dairies to sell raw milk will increase incidences of serious illnesses across the state.

The measure is scheduled to face the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation this week and supporters say it's likely to receive a positive outcome.

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(30) comments

AlphaMax
AlphaMax

Critics say "raw milk will increase incidences of serious illnesses across the state." HA!

Serious illness is due to our diet all right, but it's the fact that high fructose corn syrup and refined carbohydrates make up the bulk of the western diet. We are what we eat and we're not eating right. Our grocery stores are full of "food-like substances." Time to go back to our roots...WAY back. Paleolithic and primal diets are the key. It's not hard. Eat mostly grass-fed meat and wild game and fat. Eat fibrous/non-starchy vegetables. Eat nuts and seeds and fruits and berries when in season.

I welcome the new legislation. I'll decide whats good for me, and it's not what the government has been telling us for the last few decades, that's for sure.

I grew up milking cows and drank untold gallons of fresh whole milk. I am disturbed that professional people, people with "education" get so caught up in one in a million incidents. Processed milk has the same chances of something bad happening. I would suggest to you that a lot of cancers occur due to the way foods are processed.

Billings-center-of-Montana-Wyoming

We also need ecoli and raw bacon

jlarsen
jlarsen

There is no law against selling raw bacon...

sagebush
sagebush

Yep, finally realized that being "Educated" and being " Intelligent" are not synonymous, did you ? More and more people are realizing this fact, just look at our " Leaders" in government, education, and corporate America, speaks for it self.

billy banger
billy banger

If you start at whole milk you can see it move from the bacteria in it, Drink Up.

jlarsen
jlarsen

Whole milk, or raw milk? Do you know the difference? Have you ever had raw milk? The bacteria in raw milk are beneficial, pro-biotic, unless the milk hasn't been handled in sanitary conditions or the cows are unhealthy. Raw milk tastes amazing, BTW, not like the pasteurized garbage you get in the grocery store.

bachcole
bachcole

AlphaMax and iwantanewtown, I feel deprived. You guys said it all, and now I don't hardly have anything to add. The government has gotten it SOOO wrong since I became a health hobbyist 40 years ago that they are the last people I want dictating to me what I can eat.

Howard Wilkinson
Howard Wilkinson

Concerns about TB and Ungulate fever are legitimate and are what resulted in pasteurization. The last legal raw milk dairy in Montana was Kings Dairy in Missoula which was subjected to extremely strict testing to protect the consumer. In spite of the testing regimen which required twice a week testing of all cows, and extreme care by the operator, they had an disease incident in the 80's that resulted in a permanent shut down of their raw milk operation. I was a regular customer of Kings Dairy in the 70's and was sorry to hear about the problems.......BUT..... This is exactly the reason we have regulation, & pasteurization in the dairy industry. Now we can go through the whole scenario again............. Stupid is the word for it! I you want raw milk.... find someone who has a milk cow or two.......... We don't need to go down this path again!!

bachcole
bachcole

Which path? The path of freedom and people taking responsibility for their own lives?

newt
newt

Hope you can pay the devastating cost associated with the serious illness that can and will happen to someone ...one day... at some point. We'll see how much freedom you want when your intestines are destroyed by paratuberculosis.

bachcole
bachcole

I can't afford the medical bills of an asthmatic and allergy prone son. I can't afford the premature funeral costs of staying inside the dietary box and not thinking for myself.

newt
newt

billy banger..that is funny..and true

newt
newt

bachole...I am totally on your side in the food debate. Besides my Dairy we market organic and heritage vegetables. BUT this raw milk thing is wrong..I wish more than anything that raw milk were not dangerous..and most of the time it isn't. There is ample evidence that unpasturized milk can be serious health risk. I tell people to get their own cow. Avoid buying the cow from areas where Johnes disease is a hotbed..(maps available). I would never serve raw milk to my children. And yes I grew up on it too

jlarsen
jlarsen

Well, Howard, finding someone with a milk cow or two and attempting to purchase milk from them would be ILLEGAL, or at the very least it would be illegal for them to sell you the milk. For the most part, doing what you suggest is what this bill would finally allow people to do LEGALLY - go to a local farm where the farmer owns between 1 and 15 cows, and purchase milk from them. Technically it would allow large dairies to sell it too, but most won't and the consumer would have to go to the farm to purchase.

You also don't know much about Montana history. Raw milk was licensed in Montana until 1998, when it was banned after illnesses in other states, blamed on raw milk, brought the subject to attention.

Raw milk was still being sold legally in other parts of Montana after King's shut down in the 80's. I know because I was drinking it in the 90's.

15 states allow the retail sale of raw milk, and it doesn't cause enough problems in those 15 states to warrant further discussion.

newt
newt

I hope the people who don't want government controll of milk quality and safety have to sign off for government support of health care when they become seriously ill and or disabled from Chrones disease. Howard Wilkinson is right on! We will be outlawing Raw Milk sales in a few years after some horror happens...I am a person who grows most of my food meat..milk.

tathata
tathata

You can find raw milk. I did. You buy a share in a cow and you can have raw milk. I would rather take "my chances" on getting some kind of horrible disease from consuming raw, unpasteurized milk than to continue drinking dead milk which is what pasteurization does. It destroys all the beneficial enzymes. We wonder why America has the obesity epidemic. Take a look at all the food stuffs people eat. It is all highly processed, loaded with all kinds of chemicals and preservatives and people eat it thinking it is good. How did our grandparents ever survive to have children eating all the home grown food they must have in their day is my question.

newt
newt

Your grandparents had almost a 75% chance of dying of a food bourne illness: Your post about pasturized milk is dripping with ignorance and untruth. Billions of gallons of milk come from family dairy farms with less than 50 cows..many of them forage based operations Milk is wholesome and everyone should promote consumption...jeez whats the alternative...Coke! Powerade! Mountain Dew..thats what most kids get these days. Buying cow shares is great if you can find some farmer who has not heard of the liability law suits resulting in loss of their farms. Pasturization was a miracle when it was discovered...and by the way please tell me what enzymes are in milk that are so beneficial..truth is the enzyme is destroyed when it hits your stomach.

sagebush
sagebush

" small unregulated dairies " There is a permit involved to be able to sell which can be revoked if sanitary conditions are not met. Read the actual bill and it will clarify a lot of the comments on this thread. If, as some of you fear, there will be a health epidemic, than that would make the right to buy whole milk self regulating. America is a REPUBLIC, which means just because you don't want me to buy whole milk, doesn't mean I can't as long as it isn't against the law. 99 % of the people who grew up drinking whole milk under minimum sanitary conditions didn't contract the "creeping crud" as many of you fear. FYI-REPUBLIC=The majority is limited, under a written constitution safe guarding the rights of the individual. DEMOCRACY=The majority is not limited, lacking any safe guards of the rights of the individual. WHICH ONE DO YOU CHOOSE ???

newt
newt

Sanitary has nothing to do with paratuberculosis..Johnes...Chrones.. diseases we didn't even know existed a few years ago. These are diseases caused by ..well we're not actually sure if it is a virus, bacteria or prion is some cases..micro's that are disease in cattle that can result in dieases in humans.. A small unregulared dairy has the production capability of a quarter million pounds a year. All Dairy farms sell whole-raw milk so why should only small Dairy farms be able to market whole raw milk directly? Where is the Democracy in this ? That would be discrimination against people who have 25 cows.

sagebush
sagebush

newt-Your mistaken, SANITARY conditions has a lot to do with it.

newt
newt

With tranmission in cattle yes..the main culprit for awhile was feeding colostrum to calves from infected cows. Sanitary equipment doesn't prevent the cow from passing on the virulents through the milk. When Johnes disease becomes acute disabling diarrehea in cows then it is probably infective. Since the bulk of Dairy cattle are completely confined we assume it is passed through colostrum feeding. I agree about sanitary and know how clean the modern dairy must be to keep bacteria counts to a minimum...that's whe I never hesitate to gulp down an ice cold glass of milk

Pipeguy
Pipeguy

Turning the clock back on basic sanitation protections for the citizens is irresponsible. Children of these head in the sand, I don't believe in science libertariens are the ones who will suffer. Remember SARS?

Toga
Toga

The last legal retail raw milk dairy was Schneiter's Dairy located at Central Park between Belgrade and Manhattan. They closed just prior to 2000. In the mid 90's, Alberda's raw dairy was forced to close due to infecting 27 individuals with Campylobacter sp. There were no deaths from that food born illness but several people had to be hospitalized. I grew up drinking raw milk as well but times have changed somewhat as livestock is much more mobile than at that time. Goats are loaded into the back seats of cars for transportation, etc. Our parents new how to be sanitary about hand milking, cow preparation, and knowing when an animal might have mastitis. I have seen goats being milked in an army tent miles from potable water and then the milk being given to infants who are intolerant to cow's milk. Let people drink what they want but be sure they know that there is no inspection of these facilities, no routine testing of the milk for pathogens like E. coli H 157.

fidlr
fidlr

"I(f) you want raw milk.... find someone who has a milk cow or two." That is exactly what this bill is making legal.

End Daze
End Daze

People just don't realize how much the health risks were and still are being hyped to enable the protection racket of "permitted" dairies. The regulations wind up restricting who and the number of dairies. There is of course risk in the preperation of ALL foods. If you don't wipe off your kitchen counter once in awhile you run the risk of food poisoning because all of the bacteria are presence in even the most clean of kitchens. It all comes down to personal responsibility, individual choice, and how much effort you want to put into something. Even the permitted dairies on any given day could easily wind up contaminating their milk... it is a matter of constant vigilance. So it is with most of what you do in life. From the mechanics on the planes you fly on, to the who prepares your food, to your health care -- you depend far more upon the integrity and (believe it or not) the profit motive of those who provide it than upon the haphazard inspection of bureaucrats.

newt
newt

End Daze I don't mean to be disrespectful but I am a Dairy farmer and you don't know what you are talking about.Is there a problem with profit motive? Anyone can get a health permit to sell milk. There is no limit on the number of permits. (The quota has been found to be unlawful and not upheld) The disease risk I fear most has nothing to do with sanitation. It has to do with disease in the cow passing virulents through the milk. On all Dairy farms the milk is tested (tested for somatic cells, chemicals and or antibiotic ) everyday by the farmer.(I test my invidual cows once a week) The tank is tested by the milk truck driver before it leaves the farm. The truck is tested before it is pulled into the processing plant. The inspection is anything but haphazard and isn't even done by bureacrats. The state inspector comes once a year to the farm unless one of the test reports raises a red flag.
We have amazing little test strip kits for a number things.

End Daze
End Daze

I know all that. My father operated a Grade B Dairy and did all that stuff for years, until the Grade A producers put him and all the others out of business by passing legislation that only allowed Grade A producers and only a certain number of permits. How cozy. Maybe it was declared illegal later, but that didn't help my Dad much. There were no serious health problems, it was all a protection scam, just as there is in so many other businesses in Montana, which impose regulations to keep the competition at bay -- such as tavern owners, appraisors, beauticians, plumbers, etc. There is nothing wrong with the profit motive but there is a lot wrong with croney capitalism and that is what this is really all about. Let people produce as they choose and sell as they choose. Let the consumers choose. That's called freedom.

jlarsen
jlarsen

If the disease risk is virulents, and not sanitation, then why must the tank be tested before leaving the farm and the truck tested at the processing plant? If you've tested your cows and found them to be free of virulents, then there is no reason to believe that there would be contamination at any other step in the process, unless it is a matter of sanitation.

If the testing and inspection process is so thorough, then by the time the milk makes it to the processing plant, it should be safe, right? As safe as when it left the udders of your healthy and tested cows? Wouldn't it be safe enough for a portion to be bottled sans pasteurization? If not, why bother with all the testing and inspecting in the first place, pasteurization will kill all any unwanted pathogens in the milk anyway... or is the purpose of pasteurizing not to eliminate any virulents that were passed into the milk by the cow?

End Daze
End Daze

PS -- I and my entire family lived on raw milk. I know many others who also grew up consuming raw milk. We made our own butter and had the thickest most wonderful cream imaginable. I never knew of anyone who got sick, much less died of raw milk or farm fresh eggs, or butchering their own livestock. Like I said, earlier, everything has risks if you don't take proper precautions. Even croney capitalism can fail you after awhile, once you have failed to dupe the people or pay off the legislators.

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