A creepy omen has taken place in Illinois. Health department agents speaking at the department's Dairy Work Group meeting at the IL Corn Growers Association saw a vacuum in raw milk regulations. Uh oh, got to fill that void and tack on regulatory fines!
Did you know there's a Food, Drugs and Dairies division of their Department of Public Health? It really does sound like dairy is being lumped into drug regulations. Molly Lamb, division head, told Pantagraph:
[T]he department is seeking to put rules in place because right now there are none.Here's how it goes. In Illinois, from-the-farm sales of unpasteurized milk are legal...for now. All other sales and interstate sales are not. Recently, at least a few dozen people gathered to speak to the IL Department of Public Health in Bloomington to peacefully protest the proposed regulations. They held signs that said "Don't criminalize me" and "Save family farms." The added regulations would burden the small farms - they say it will threaten their livelihood - and inhibit access from people who love raw milk and appreciate its nutritional benefits and humane treatment of cows, including lack of hormones and antibiotics.
How many conflicts can you find in these proposed rules:
- Sales limited to only 100 gallons per month
- Farms must purchase equipment to achieve Grade A certification
- Mandate for farms to keep customer log on file
- All "herd-sharing" prohibited
That means people can't enter into agreements with farmers that allow members to pay for the cow or boarding and/or pay the farmer for his labor to milk and care for the animal. Similar to horse boarding. That's like demanding customer lists from Craigslist users and dictating that they cannot enter into agreements with others.
An acting manager says the intention for the meeting was to get feedback on what rules work for farmers and public safety - the customer list is apparently to track sources of any potential outbreak. But also adds, the rules are to prevent wide distribution of raw milk...
Raw milk sales have been turning things around for small farms. Depending on the amount of cows, they can produce a lot of milk. Limiting the amount of gallons would mean that farmers would have to get rid of some of their cows. Add to that, having to purchase expensive equipment and keep up with certifications - read: lots of fees and health inspector visits. Grade-A certification would require thousands of dollars and new equipment. Does that make any sense to you?
You can't sell very much milk at all, but must also purchase extremely expensive equipment and certifications...
How is a very small family farm supposed to run that way? They are transparent and have a special relationship with the people who walk right up to the farm. Then what if they are to fork over that customer list? Can you imagine having to register pasteurized milk at the grocery store? Yet, pasteurized milk sickens people each year.
Amanda Brown, who drank raw milk for five years and reversed chronic digestive issues said:
We appreciate the public health department is looking out for us, but in this case we feel they’re overreaching.There is time for public comment - anyone out there have that information for our Illinois readers? I would say "NO" to everything on that list. There were no issues - no one asked them to fill that happy void.
Heavy regulations and surveillance don't seem to alleviate any potential public health risk - and no complaints in IL. These measures appear to be a desperate attempt to fund coffers, exert control, and hamper access to food choice.
Hey Agents, leave our food alone! (my version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall")
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