A Fight for Raw Milk

A fight for Raw Milk

The future of Raw Milk in California in jeopardy

The governor of California and his henchmen have just legislated away our right to drink raw milk. Of course they didn’t ban it outright: that would have been noticed by the citizens of the state of California and protested against. No, they chose to pull a sneaking maneuver and inserted eight little words that will have the same effect.

These eight words will prevent California dairies from selling raw milk:

"or more than ten coliform bacteria per milliliter"

Those eight words were added to dairy legislation in California on October 8, 2007.

Assembly Bill #1735 (AB 1735) was signed by the Governor and becomes law on January 1st, 2008. Contained in this law are new standards for raw milk. These new standards require 10 coliform bacteria per ml or less. This standard does not increase the safety of raw milk and it will make the production of organic raw milk in California nearly impossible. Under the tried and true old standards that have been in existence for forty years or more, coliforms could be 50 or 500. It did not matter.

A press conference was held at the Fresno Farmer’s Market in Fresno on Saturday, October 27 at 11 a.m. in protest of the new law. This post will be updated as more details become available.

You might be thinking, "I don’t drink raw milk. Why should I care?" While many of us who grew up drinking raw milk and extol the benefits of drinking a healthy natural beverage. This isn’t merely about the availability of milk. This issue extends far beyond the obvious in that our government is supposed to be transparent. Ours is supposed to function as a government for and by the people. When our public officials use underhanded, sneaky and unethical tactics to achieve their goals, we all pay the price.

The EPA reports that even testing for fecal coliforms (a subset of coliform bacteria) is a "a poor indicator of the risk of digestive system illness." The EPA goes on to advise that the only way to determine whether food is actually sanitary is to test for those specific coliforms that can be a sign of something harmful such as E. coli and enterococci. Neglecting to test for those specific harmful coliforms, but banning all coliforms outright is equivalent to forcing Ford to recall every vehicle they ever made when only a single model year of one product is found to have a flaw. Even then, the previous law set the limit of coliforms at 750 coliforms per mL. A legal reduction of over 98% over the course of less than 3 months cannot be interpreted as anything other than a direct attack on raw milk providers, particularly when far more than 90% of coliform bacteria are not harmful.

This is not the first-time I’ve personally witnessed the blatant disregard for public opinion and openness required for our government to function properly by those in Sacramento. For instance, it’s not an uncommon practice for a legislator to reuse a bill number that is no longer active – after the date legally prescribed under California law. There is a reason legislation isn’t allowed to be introduced after a certain date, but that doesn’t stop our legislative branch from manipulating the rules to their advantage.

How long will Californians stand by and allow our elected officials to skirt the laws that guarantee the rest of us a spot at the table? If you are sick and tired of being railroaded and regulated to death, now is your opportunity to let your voice be heard in Sacramento. Contact your legislators and let them know what you think about the way they are conducting our business.

More Information: