• Legislators Back Off Raw Milk Ban After Consumer Outrage In Illinois

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    The fact is, ALL foods may contain these bacteria. Actually, there has never been a case of listeria, the most dangerous of these pathogens, from raw fluid milk. If the state of Illinois banned all foods that could contain these harmful bacteria, there would be no food to eat in the state of Illinois (and that includes pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products).

    Government statistics show us that the rate of illness from raw milk is very low. According to a 2007 CDC survey, about 3 percent of the US population consumes raw milk; in 2014, this is at least 10 million people. CDC data indicated that there are approximately 50 illnesses associated (but not proven) from raw milk every year. (The majority of these are mild, and this number is probably over-reported.) Thus, using government data, we can show that the rate of illness from raw milk is .000005 per year. So there is no reason to single out raw milk as an inherently dangerous food. Many foods allowed on the market have a much greater rate of illness.

    Under current Illinois law, farmers can sell an unlimited amount of raw milk on the farm without a permit. Legislators and health officials were working hard to completely banish farm-to-consumer agreements in some sneaky ways. This was not lost on Illinois' thriving raw milk market.

    The ball got rolling last year, with health bureaucrats issuing statements at a farmers meeting that they wanted regulations because…there were none. They tried to assure farmers that they could still sell raw milk BUT – only less than 100 gallons per month, after purchasing expensive large-scale equipment meant for Big Dairy, NO herd-share agreements, and keep customer logs. Translation: buy expensive equipment to produce a pittance of milk to sell to no one and give us your files. Then, they admitted they didn't want the public to have any access.

    If that wasn't absurd enough, the Northern Illinois Public Health …

    I am convinced, by virtue of the thousands of communications I’ve received, that natural dairy should continue to be made available to our society. If people believe this product is beneficial, I am not going to interfere with that. It was never my intention to put any restriction on the farmers.

    “When I am able to purchase this healthful product within Illinois, I am able to support farmers I know and trust,” says Vicki McConnell, a Lee County resident and active supporter of access to natural milk. “Supporting our local economy is as important to me as accessing healthy products for my family. I am grateful that the legislators see the sense in not imposing additional restrictions on this voluntary exchange for food.”

    After the amendment was introduced, consumers and farmers alike rallied to inform elected officials about the benefits of natural milk. Farmers brought samples of the milk to the state capitol. Representatives learned about the importance of this local product with some even opting to try fresh milk for the first time. Several allegedly said it was the best milk they’ve ever had.

    Burke says he was asked to introduce the amendment by a Cook County Health Department official who was concerned with not having regulations in place for off-farm sales and distribution. Burke notes that he learned a lot from the people who contacted his office expressing their concerns.

    Burke added:

    With the increasing popularity of the beverage, including legislation introduced on the national level, it just doesn’t make sense to interfere with the direct relationship between the people who produce this food and the people who want it. I have no intention of moving forward with this bill. I would like to see the law remain as it is and I appreciate all those who took the time to contact me with their opinions.

    This is a prime example of what activism and getting closer to your legislators can do – who would have thought? Let's not allow alarmist health “officials” write the laws that block access to fresh foods. Without the response from Weston A. Price and raw milk supporters, a misguided warning slipped into an unrelated bill could have devastated Illinois farmers and their patrons.

    The state of Illinois needs to ask why more and more people in the state are consuming raw milk. The answer is the superior taste; better digestibility and numerous proven health benefits including protection against asthma, allergies and eczema, improved growth in children, strong bones and teeth, and improvement of serious conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, attention deficit disorder and autism. Very often raw milk is the ONLY solution to failure to thrive in children.

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