RAW MILK FEAR MONGERING BACKFIRES ON FARM BUREAUCRATS

day 123 Vengeance will be mine
Creative Commons License photo credit: Hoggheff aka Hank Ashby aka Mr. Freshtags

THE ATTACK ON RAW MILK PRODUCERS IS AN ATTACK ON ALL DAIRY FARMERS

by Robert Burns, Aiki Farms

For many hundreds of years raw milk has been a wonderful food source. From mothers breast, we go to mares milk, to goat milk, and most popular of all the milk is from cows. So what is causing the dynamic of our troubled dairy industry today?

I believe it is recent attacks against raw milk retail sales. Raw milk demand in our state is intense. Once raw milk goes on store shelves, it is gone in a day.

Investors are backing Connecticut raw dairy farms, because the margin of profit on raw milk is 60% higher than on processed milk.

All milk as it originates from the cow is raw. Many small dairy farmers, who market their milk for pasteurization, keep some of their raw milk for their families. The rest is taken away by the tanker truck for pasteurization. They know raw means more enzymes, and untreated milk’s nutrition benefits the body fully.

Pasteurized milk, because of enzyme loss, does not give these farm families the same dynamic benefits of raw milk. This is a well known practice, and has been going on since the introduction of pasteurization.

I know most of the dairy farmers in my state.  I would say 90% of them feed their families their raw milk. This is  a known fact amongst dairy farmers. This is insider information I am giving you, because this is a little known fact to the general public.

Why do we pasteurize? A theory is that during prohibition when leftover corn from the distilling process was fed to cattle (which is called “silage” today), did not provide the nutrients for the cattle to ward off disease. Undulant fever broke out in the human population in large proportions, and pasteurization was initiated into the dairy process to protect the consumer from unsafe milk.

Today, State Agriculture Departments around the country, in an alliance with State Health Departments are waging a war against raw milk. Health officials in Canada, are also running a raw milk offensive against farmers like Michael Schmidt. This ends up being an attack on the entire milk industry.

Here in the State of Connecticut, the Nutmeg State, where rumor mongering can sometimes crest to gigantic proportions, in the Fall of 2008, our Agricultural Commissioner was suddenly motivated to attack the dairy industry under the guise of attacking raw milk. The commissioner took it so far as to publish an anti-raw milk blog on the Connecticut Department of Agriculture web page.

The basis for this blog, were his false allegations that the source of a recent Ecoli 0157H7 outbreak came from raw milk from a farm called Town Farm. His argument was never substantiated (and subsequently thrown out by the State Environment Committee). It was based on testimony of a woman, whose son allegedly contracted Ecoli 0157H7, from playing with a neighbor’s son.  Her child ended up on dialysis, while the child who drank raw milk contracted no illness, whatsoever.

The cow at Town Farm that was suspected of having Ecoli 0157H7 was dry at the time of this incident, and not being milked. It was rumored the ecoli 0157H7 came from the manure,which somehow found it’s way into the dairy product. Pretty far fetched?

In cases like this, a more likely source of Ecoli 0157H7 is from rare beef. This virulent bacteria comes from cows that are confined, standing in stalls where their blood stagnates from lack of movement. The pathogens end up in their manure. If meat from these cows is not fully cooked, the remaining pathogens may cause illness.

Furthermore, the State of Connecticut has staff of biological geneticists, who could have genetically fingerprinted the source of the Ecoli, if the commissioner wanted scientific proof.  This free, in house capability was available to him and would have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that raw milk was the source. Why did he neglect to do this to prove his point?

Whenever raw milk is maligned, raw milk proponents rightly waste no time in trotting out all the incidents where pasteurized milk caused food borne illness.  It is known to cause more illness on a per capita basis than raw milk.

For instance, at a hearing before the Environmental Committee about the Farm Town case, two women testified having miscarriages from drinking PASTEURIZED MILK IN MASSACHUSETTS,where over 16,000 consumers were impacted by food-borne disease from a bad batch of PASTEURIZED MILK….. Thus the attack on raw milk becomes an attack on the ENTIRE INDUSTRY, for when the dialogue of RAW  vs. PASTEURIZED   surfaces the result is…JUST DON’T DRINK MILK…….

The fact is, NONE of the Massachusetts dairy producers who fed the raw milk to their families BEFORE PASTEURIZATION got sick from the milk before it was pasteurized. When milk is sterilized and then contaminated, the pathogens grow wildly due to the absence of good bacteria. And, pasteurized milk outbreaks tend to affect thousands of people, due to the large scale of the milk processing plants.

So, while the health bureaucrats think they are targeting just one segment of the industry, they actually end up maligning all milk, and hurting all milk producers. So much for unintended consequences.

Robert Burns and Actor, Ed Begley, Jr.

Robert Burns and Actor, Ed Begley, Jr.

Robert Burns is the Legislative Chair of the New London County Farm Bureau. Robert was a reluctant farmer, he grew up on a Connecticut dairy farm and fled the farm life as a young man by going into the Marine Corps.  His farming career began on the West Coast after he left the Marine Corps. Robert worked for Lynn and Jerry Wiess’s Rocky Peak Farms in North County, San Diego. He then started his own business, installing and servicing organic vegetable gardens for Hollywood celebrities. When his mother died, he inherited the farm of his youth, and has returned there to do his life’s calling, tending a bountiful garden. He raises organic produce on his family’s 5 acre farm, Aiki Farms (pronounced eye-key) in Ledyard Connecticut. Burns is an Aikido master and 5th degree black belt, and Aiki Farms has a dojo where he conducts martial arts training. His interest in farming and food politics he is running as an Independent candidate for a seat on the town council.

Comments

  1. I am not sure of the incident in question, but there was an incident earlier in 2008 (in June if I remember correctly). There is info on the Real Milk website but if memory serves, a dozen or more people got sick and a match was found between the stools of some of the victims and one cow which had been milking at the time of the illnesses. It seems as if there was some controversy about the management of the farm. In any case, I expect this incident may have played a part in the regulatory action as well.

    On the issue of pathogen survival in milk, there is more info on my site.

    Amanda

  2. robert Burns says:

    To Amanda,
    That is correct, it was Town farm Dairy, however, as my blog reflects,THERE WAS NEVER A GENETIC FINGERPRINT ESTABLISHED….the “tracing” was done via microbial means, which is questionable.

  3. Robert,

    What do you mean specifically by “genetic fingerprint”? Your comment here sent me searching and I found a CT govt report on the Marler Blog:

    http://www.marlerblog.com/uploads/file/Vol29No2_FNL.pdf

    The isolated the specific strain of O157:H7 in the stools of some of the sick people and found a matching strain in the feces of one cow that was in the milk rotation at the time of the illnesses. The PFGE of the samples matched. I refer to matching PFGE as “genetic fingerprinting” because, to my knowledge, there is no test more accurate than that. It shows that the very specific mutation in the sick people was also in one of the cows.

    This tracing is “microbial” since, in fact, O157:H7 is a microbe. What am I missing?

    Amanda

  4. robert Burns says:

    Hi Amanda,
    The Comissioner of Agriculture did not obtain the data you allege exsists in his report to the Envrionmental Comission during the hearing.Where is the data that says a genetic fingerpriint was obtained, as you allege.
    In fact meetings were held where the results of microbial(not genetic) tracings were done.
    there is no record of a PFGE test being done,if it were done, of course it would have been introduced as evidence would it have not?
    By all means get me the data, timed and dated,and did you know the cow was dry at the time, not milking,which meant it was free roaming in the pasture,thus the source of the ecoli 0157 H7 in the manure would require some scrutiny, would it not?
    Many of us are interested in the whereabouts of your data,who did the testing, and where it was done and when it was done, and why it was not submitted to the Envrionmental Commission., during the hearings.

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  1. […] raw milk, attack on dairying Jump to Comments Here’s an excerpt from a recent story on Kimberly Hartke’s blog, written by Robert Burns, who is a Connecticut farmer and Chair of the New London County Farm […]

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