News & Resources

Producers, Processors Join Forces to Oppose Wisconsin Raw Milk Bill

October 7, 2013

NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) joined forces in September to urge state lawmakers in Wisconsin to reject legislation allowing sales of unpasteurized milk to consumers. It was the second time in three years that groups representing milk producers and milk processors teamed up to oppose raw milk legislation in the nation’s second-largest dairy state.

In a letter to state senators, NMPF and IDFA said the risks of consuming raw dairy products are not worth any of the claimed benefits of raw milk to consumers or producers.

“Consumption of raw milk has been opposed by every major health organization in the United States, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” the letter said, noting that raw milk is a vehicle for transmitting E. coli 0157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella and other pathogens.

“The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well-documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years,” the letter said.

Wisconsin has been at the center of a vigorous raw milk debate since 2010, when former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle vetoed legislation permitting on-farm sales. His successor, Republican Scott Walker, initially said he would sign similar legislation if it included provisions safeguarding public health. More recently, however, Walker has expressed concern about what legalizing raw milk sales would mean for Wisconsin’s dairy industry.

NMPF Chief Operating Officer Jim Mulhern called it “disheartening” that lawmakers in America’s Dairyland would even consider legislation allowing raw milk sales. “The benefits of consuming raw milk are illusory,” Mulhern said, “but the painful costs of illness and death are very real.”