Raw milk makes millions—should it be legal nationwide?

Raw milk gained national attention this month following the illnesses of 43 people who consumed the product from The Family Cow dairy in Pennsylvania. But as the farm’s sales resume after a government inspection, the setback seems not to have affected raw milk proponents who are currently working toward legalizing its sale in several states.

Penton Media - New Hope 360, Click Here!The news of the raw milk recall comes at the same time when Rural Vermont released its 2012 report on raw milk production and sales. Raw milk sales generated $1 million in gross revenues for Vermont farms in 2011. Rural Vermont, a family farm and sustainable agriculture advocacy group, surveyed Vermont farmers who legally sell raw milk directly to consumers, thanks to a law passed three years ago.

Raw milk advocates already have legislation in progress in several states, including New Jersey, home to one of the outbreaks. Joining New Jersey are Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Idaho also proposed legislation to ease its strict rules on raw milk sales. In all, 15 states currently allow farms to legally sell unpasteurized milk, while 10 states permit retailers to sell it, according to Food Safety News.

The recent outbreak logs 36 confirmed cases of the potentially fatal Campylobacter infection in four states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration disallows raw milk transport across state lines, and has required the mandatory pasteurization of all milk and milk products intended for human consumption since 1987, noting that “raw milk, no matter how carefully produced, may be unsafe.”

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