EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- For the second time in 3 years, some lawmakers want to legalize the sale of raw milk in Wisconsin.
Under current law, farmers cannot sell unpasteurized milk directly to the consumer. Senator Glenn Grothman, the author of the Senate Bill 236, says raw milk sales have been going on for ages. In Illinois, farmers are allowed to sell to individuals, but not to stores. He says it only make sense to give Wisconsin farmers the same opportunity.
The bill proposed by Grothman would let dairy farmers register with the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection, in order to sell unpasteurized milk directly to buyers on the farm.
“Pasteurization of milk is a basic public health effort. Obviously it started a long time ago, and it started because really we wanted to keep people safe and healthy,” said Director of the Eau Claire City County Health Department Lieske Giese.
Lieske Giese says bacteria in raw milk can cause serious illness and even death.
“We've come too far in the dairy industry to make milk safe,” said dairy farmer from Cadott Jim Ciolkosz.
Ciolkosz says he doesn't mind raw milk sales, on limited basis.
He says he's not comfortable selling it to just anyone who comes to his farm.
“The consumer has a right to, if they really, really want to. But he (the consumer) also needs to be aware what are the risks involved in it too.
“There is no control who buys the raw milk,” explained Giese.
Giese says that really is the biggest concern.
“Anybody who buys that milk, or takes it somewhere, or serves it to someone else they may not have those same protections,”
Bill supporters say raw milk is better for your health because all the enzymes are not boiled out. Eau Claire City County Health Department says there are no scientific studies to back that up.
Ciolkosz says raw milk sales may help farmers financially, but not by much.
“I don't want anyone telling me what I can and cannot do. This is what I think this bill is mostly about, but I guess that remains to be seen,” added Ciolkosz.
The bill also has a set of rules, all of which need to be met for farmers to sell their product.
One of them requires the raw milk to meet the state's rules for Grade A milk concerning appearance and odor, among other things.
The bill has bi-partisan support. It's scheduled for public hearing Wednesday, in Madison.