Pasteurized milk may not strike most as an affront to their liberties, but for a small, determined group of farmers and consumers, the right to produce and buy raw milk has been the object of a years-long crusade, spawning underground raw milk clubs and accusations of FDA agents waging a “secret war” against raw milk providers using “KGB-style techniques.” A recent slew of small victories for raw milk supporters hints that the unpasteurized product, currently banned in 20 states, may be inching towards legal recognition, or at least begrudging tolerance.
In Wisconsin, predictably a hotspot for dairy-related debates, farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted ten days ago of operating his 40-cow dairy without a proper license. His trial had been picketed by the Alliance for Raw Milk internationale (we told you they’re dead serious), which drew arguably way over-the-top comparisons to Rosa Parks. Although the verdict was good news for Hershberger, however, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture isn’t budging on its firmly anti-raw milk stance.
Delaware and Massachusetts, on the other hand, are showing signs of progress with introduction of bills that would respectively legalize and lift restrictions on the sale of raw milk. Delaware’s state legislature would grant farmers permits to produce and sell raw milk on-site and with prominent disclaimers about the product’s lack of pasteurization; Massachusetts already allows the sale of raw milk at the site of production, but may soon allow farmers to sell their product at other locations across the state.
Strangely, the ARMi’s website doesn’t say anything about the recent good news—in fact, it hasn’t been updated in almost a year and a half—but we imagine they’re pleased with recent developments. Raw milk won’t be gracing supermarket shelves anytime soon, but at least enthusiasts may be able to drink up in peace.