Saturday, January 23, 2010

Raw Milk Controversy, near and far

Recently a court in Ontario, Canada ruled that a dairy farmer was allowed to continue operating a raw milk cooperative.  In an article in the Toronto Star, Kathryn Boor, professor and chair of Cornell University’s Food Science Department, said the ruling is “absolutely being watched outside of Ontario.”

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.  Some people praise raw milk for its flavor, texture, health benefits, and usefulness in home cheese-making.  Others warn that contaminated raw milk can cause serious illnesses and even death (the CDC reports 2 deaths between 1993 and 2006).  The NYT reported on the controversy in 2007.

Here in central New York, Meadowsweet Farm operates a raw milk LLC, where members pay fees to join and maintain the herd.  Milk is only only provided to LLC members and not sold to the public.  When I spoke to the owners last summer, they said there is an obvious demand for raw milk -- some LLC members drive two hours to pick up their milk.

When the LLC started in 2007, New York Ag and Markets (which has jurisdiction over milk sales) continued to attempt to regulate the farm, even though no milk was sold to the public. Subsequently, they asked the NY Supreme Court to rule that Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC was a private company that maintained cows and distributed raw milk exclusively to the LLC members and were therefore not under NYS regulatory authority.  The request was denied, and appeals are ongoing, with the help of the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

For further details on the Meadowsweet saga, see this raw milk blog.

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