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USA 02.02.2024

Colorado Considers Legalizing Raw Milk, But Challenges Loom for Producers

Source: The DairyNews
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In lieu of picking up his weekly gallon of raw milk at the local grocery store, James Thatcher opts for a more direct approach – he heads straight to the cows themselves at Jacob Springs Farm in Boulder.
Colorado Considers Legalizing Raw Milk, But Challenges Loom for Producers
Thatcher is a member of the farm's herd share program, granting him legal ownership of a share of a cow and access to unprocessed, raw milk. Introduced to the benefits of raw milk through word of mouth last year, he attests to its superior taste and health benefits.

Raw milk, unlike its pasteurized counterpart found in supermarkets, skips the heating and cooling process, going directly from a cow's udder to a bottle. While commonplace in Europe and Asia, raw milk faces skepticism in the United States due to safety concerns. Colorado State University food safety specialist Marisa Bunning emphasizes the inherent risks associated with raw milk consumption, citing its potential contamination by human pathogens present in cattle.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, between 1998 and 2018, over 2,600 illnesses were linked to raw milk consumption. Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, young children, and immunocompromised individuals, are particularly at risk. Currently, in Colorado, raw milk can only be legally obtained through herd share programs, leading to waitlists due to their popularity.

Despite contested claims about the nutritional benefits of raw milk, proponents argue for its digestibility and nutritional superiority. Farmers, like Daphne Kingsley of Light Root Farm, note the varied reasons people seek raw milk, from nutritional value to a desire for a local farm connection.

A bipartisan group supports Senate Bill 24-043, seeking to expand access to raw milk by allowing producers to sell directly to consumers without requiring herd share membership. However, the proposed legislation brings forth challenges. While consumers may have access to raw milk through direct sales, deliveries, or farmer's markets, it would remain prohibited in grocery stores. Additionally, dairy farmers would face fines and regulations, with unspecified details raising concerns among some, like Jacob Springs Farm owner Andre Houssney.

Houssney questions the transparency of the bill's provisions, expressing apprehension about potential financial repercussions for farmers. Despite this, some farmers, like Kingsley, already implement safety measures such as regular testing for diseases like salmonella and E. coli, showcasing the industry's commitment to ensuring the safety of raw milk.
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Keith Woodford
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Lee Mielke
Lee Mielke
editor of the Mielke Market Weekly
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Dairy farm milk production continues to struggle and remained below a year ago for the seventh consecutive month.
February 2024
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