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WCMA Opposes Farm Bill Amendment to Lift Ban on Interstate Sale of Raw Milk

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) is urging federal lawmakers to oppose an amendment to the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, which would allow the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk for direct human consumption between states that allow the distribution of unpasteurized milk or milk products.

“Doctors and microbiologists have long recognized the substantial public health risks associated with raw milk,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director.  “It’s troubling that any elected official would ignore that potentially deadly threat.”

WCMA is expressing concern to key Congressional delegates in keeping with its long-standing opposition to the sale of raw milk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1998 through 2011, consumption of raw milk triggered 148 outbreaks which resulted in 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations, and two deaths. Most of these illnesses were caused by Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or Listeria.

In Wisconsin, in September 2014, nearly 40 Durand high school students became severely ill after consuming raw milk at dinner for the school’s football team. In June 2011 in Racine, 16 fourth-graders and some family members became ill after they drank raw milk at a classmate’s birthday party.

Umhoefer noted that, along with the concern for consumer safety, interstate sales of raw milk also pose a secondary concern for economic security.  The U.S. dairy industry currently accounts for $207 billion in economic activity, including a $43 billion impact in Wisconsin alone.

“Any food-borne illness outbreak caused by raw milk threatens not only sales of liquid milk, but also the sales of all dairy products,” said Umhoefer.