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Wisconsin Senate bill introduced to legalize raw milk

Wisconsin Senate bill introduced to legalize raw milk

Update

Thank you to Seth Allen, from Rep. Behnke’s office, for responding to my email about the bill.

Excerpts from the Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill allows a milk producer to receive a license from DATCP to sell unpasteurized dairy products processed on farm premises to consumers through delivery, at retail stores, or directly from a dairy farm. Under the bill, a milk producer who has a license to sell unpasteurized dairy products is not required to obtain a milk producer license, a grade A permit, or a buttermaker or cheesemaker license if the milk producer does not send any milk to a dairy plant and sells no milk or milk products other than unpasteurized dairy products processed on farm premises.

Sample testing will be required for raw milk licensing in Wisconsin.

To receive a license to sell unpasteurized dairy products, a milk producer must submit a series of samples for testing for a number of bacteria and coliform and standard plate counts, provide results from tests performed by a licensed veterinarian that show that the cows used to produce the unpasteurized dairy products do not have tuberculosis or brucellosis, and show proof of training on raw milk safety. Additionally, DATCP must conduct an on-site inspection of the milk producer’s processing plant.

Read the full bill text: Senate Bill 781 An Act to amend 97.22 (2) (a) and 97.27 (1) (b) 4.; and to create 97.17 (7), 97.176 (8), 97.177 (3m), 97.20 (2) (e) 6., 97.22 (11), 97.24 (2) (d) 5. and 97.26 of the statutes; Relating to: the sale of unpasteurized dairy products. (FE)

Raw milk in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Rep. Elijah Behnke and Senator Duey Stroebel are working on policy improvements for their state.

Raw milk is currently available in Wisconsin through Private Membership Organizations known as herdshare/ cowshare programs. Commercial sales of raw milk, whether retail or on-farm, are currently outlawed.

Demand for raw milk is growing worldwide. Iowa, North Dakota, and Georgia legalized raw milk sales in 2023.

Read: Raw milk gains ally with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau

Relating to the sale of unpasteurized dairy products

Wisconsin might be first on the list for policy improvements in 2024. Here’s some copy pasta I’ve seen reposted around the Web [1][2][3]

State Representative Elijah Behnke (R-Oconto) issued the following statement regarding legislation he authored with Senator Duey Stroebel relating to the sale of unpasteurized dairy products:

“In Wisconsin, you can regularly buy and consume raw ground hamburger from Brazil, raw oysters from Washington, raw tuna from Japan, and raw romaine lettuce from California. Current Wisconsin law regarding unprocessed dairy, however, sends the message that we do not trust our dairy farmers to produce a sanitary, unprocessed product, and that we can’t trust consumers to make an informed health decision about the dairy products they buy.

“Wisconsin dairy farmers have access to better safety testing technology than ever before, including rapid on-farm testing. Our farmers are acutely aware that producing a safe, healthy product is vital to the success of their farms. Many consumers prefer raw dairy for a variety of reasons including taste, nutrition, and health benefits.

“This bill provides farmers with the ability to sell unpasteurized dairy products through additional channels, accompanied by more robust guidelines and testing requirements compared to any previous proposal authorizing the sale of unpasteurized dairy products in Wisconsin. It is long past time we trust our farmers and consumers with the sale of unprocessed dairy in America’s Dairyland.”

Will report more here as details come in.

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