If People Want To Drink Raw Milk, Should Dairy Farmers Be Able To Sell It To Them?

Let’s say you’re a dairy farmer in oh, how about Wisconsin, and you’re thirsty. You can go out to one of your cows, milk it, and drink what comes out. But turning around and selling it to customers craving raw milk, well in most states, that’s illegal. While food safety regulations are of the utmost importance to consumers, should you be able to purchase products like raw milk and drink at your own risk?

That’s the fight going on in the case of a 41-year-old dairy farmer in Wisconsin, where raw milk is not legal for sale. He’s headed to trial this month for three counts of licensure violation and one count of violating a hold order, because he started a private buyer’s club for raw milk back in 2003. Through word of mouth, he found customers who wanted to buy raw milk, to the tune of around 100 families.

Those members would basically buy a cow from the farmer, and then pay him to feed and board the animals. Then they’d come by to pick up the raw milk when they wanted it. The Daily Beast says this made the farmer believe he didn’t need a license as a retail food establishment, as he wasn’t one. The milk belonged to the club members, and he was just hosting their property.

On the other hand, the CDC warns against drinking raw milk, citing it as the cause of 148 outbreaks from 1998 to 2011, including two that resulted in death. And regulators who are charged with protecting the public by writing laws that supermarkets and other stores must abide by are big fans of pasteurization. That process kills off salmonella and E coli germs, two bacterium nobody wants in their food.

But there are fans of raw milk who love it for the taste, and say it’s more nutritious. And because it’s usually not produced at a big factory farm, those consumers who love going organic often favor it because less chemicals are introduced into the ground.

So the question is — if someone seeks out a farmer to provide raw milk, and agrees to drink it at his or her own risk, should that farmer then be held liable in a court of law?

Wisconsin Farmer to Stand Trial for Selling Raw Milk [Daily Beast]