The Debate on Raw Milk Sales

In April 2008, Pennsylvania farmer Mark Nolt was hauled away in handcuffs for raw milk sales of milk, yogurt, kefir and cheeses without a permit. In Georgia, raw milk is required to carry a label that reads “not for human consumption.” Cow-share programs, in which consumers buy a share in a cow for a portion of its milk, were recently shut down in Ohio and Michigan.

| August/September 2008

Conflicts over raw milk sales have spurred a big debate. Many states are getting tough on the sale of raw milk, but the number of dairies across the country offering the milk is growing exponentially.

Family and customers of Mark Nolt, a Pennsylvania farmer, watched in horror last April as a squadron of police cars and state agents drove him away in handcuffs. Was his crime terrorism? Narcotics? No. Nolt was selling raw milk, yogurt, fresh kefir and cheeses directly from his farm without a permit.

There is an intense debate on raw milk sales in our country. Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers if they obtain a state-issued permit.

Raw milk enthusiasts think that unpasteurized milk contains important microbes and enzymes that help protect against everything from allergies to eczema. A 2007 Swedish study of nearly 15,000 children across five European countries found those who drank unpasteurized milk were significantly less likely to suffer from asthma and hay fever.

Until recently, Pennsylvania was fairly tolerant of unregulated unpasteurized milk sales. But lately, even farms with permits have been subjected to vigorous testing and surprise inspections by the state’s department of agriculture. Authorities maintain that raw milk consumption can lead to food-borne illness.

In Georgia, raw milk is required to carry a label that reads “not for human consumption.” Cow-share programs, in which consumers buy a share in a cow for a portion of its milk, were recently shut down in Ohio and Michigan. California has tried to impose strict limits on the amount of bacteria raw milk can contain — a tactic decried by supporters because unpasteurized milk naturally contains a variety of bacteria.

2/26/2010 10:53:05 AM

I think it is a shame you can not purchase raw milk. I was raised on raw milk. The stuff you get now adays makes me sick at my stomach. I think that the government just wants to give the farmer the small amount of money for their produce and charge to consumer lots so they make the profit. In the state of West Virginia I can only find raw goats milk which I don't like. I would love to purchase raw milk but after reading the article about the guy in PA I would not want anyone to get in trouble for me wanting raw milk. Shame on the government for restricting raw milk to be purchaased.

9/16/2009 4:05:05 PM

I absolutely LOVE my Raw Milk!!! I have beeen very sick for years, about once a month!...then starting in May (my last cold) I started drinking real milk on a daily basis. I have not been sick since!!! Which is amazing! And I am a waitress I work with lots of people and touching their dishes!!! I will only drink raw milk from now on! The thing that gets me is that we can buy ciggs, alcohol, and other items we know are bad for us and yet something as healthy as raw milk is banned in 1/2 the states!!!! mmmm...yeah something is wrong with this picture... I say at least give us a choice if we want to buy raw milk let us, and if someone still (for some crazy reason) wants to buy mass produced fake milk...let them. soon they will realize what raw milk has done for centuries...keeps people strong and healthy! and lactose intollerant will be a thing of the past. Does anyone know what I can do to help make it legal in all the states???

7/25/2009 7:24:53 AM

Raw milk - excellent for my health and well being. Buy a gallon for $3.00 each week and usually get to watch the jersey being milked. Milk is strained in front of me and put into my jug. So I know the cow personally. Raised my kids on raw goats milk. No allergies, no real health issues. I wouldn't loose any sleep over worrying about diseased cows. The percentage or chance is so small. No soda in our fridge! sjp

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