From 1993 to 2002 nearly all the revenue to my firm came to E. coli-contaminated hamburger.  Then it was E. coli-contaminated spinach and lettuce.  Although spinach and lettuce were down in 2007, hamburger is back up.  With the increase in sales of raw milk in states, I am expecting a brisk growth in this sector of the Marler Clark firm.

A new study from the National Associations of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) finds raw milk is now available to consumers in 29 of the 50 states. The Federal Government  prohibits the interstate commerce of raw milk to consumers across state lines. Other than that, it is up to the states.   A questionnaire was sent to state regulatory milk program directors and/or managers in all fifty states in January 2008 and responses came in from all 50.

The survey found 29 states authorize the legal sale of raw milk, in some specified manner, for direct human consumption while the remaining 21 states prohibit the sale of raw milk to consumers.  Of the 29 that allow the sale, 17 regulate that it can only be sold on the farm where the milk is produced.   Two of the states, Minnesota and Wisconsin restrict sales to only incidental occurrences, not as a regular course of business and no advertising is allowed.  Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Rhode Island allow only for the sale of raw goats milk and Kentucky and Rhode Island require a physician’s prescription.  South Dakota allows farmers to deliver the milk to customers but not to stores. Oregon sales are limited to farms with no more than three cows and only two milking at any one time.  Three states, Texas, Massachusetts and South Carolina have coliform standards.  The remaining 13 states allow the retail sale of raw milk away from the farm, although in Utah the store must be owned by the producer even if it is off the farm.  11 of these states have coliform standards; Oregon and New Hampshire do not.  However, Oregon only allows raw goats milk to be sold at a store.

Not mentioned in the survey is also the growing issue of the sales of raw milk products that are sold as pet food with the knowledge that it is actually being consumed by humans.  The Chicago Tribune ran a story on Raw Milk this morning – "Milk issue not black and white."