David E. Gumpert, who will be in Newmarket next Thursday to hear the verdict in Michael Schmidt’s raw milk trial from a year ago, has just posted an update on exciting developments in Wisconsin. Here’s an excerpt:
“As I read various accounts of the situation regarding the British Columbia raw dairy that’s been targeted by authorities for supposedly tainted milk, I am drawn to Michael Schmidt’s advice (per his comment following my previous post): “We need to continuously reach out, educate and discuss in a respectful manner the issue.” I would go a step further and suggest we need to seek to develop a spirit of cooperation, rather than confrontation.
Of course, the obvious response is: Sometimes you need confrontation in order to arrive at cooperation.
In British Columbia, it seems that the issue is about high coliform counts rather than the discovery of pathogens in the dairy’s milk. The dairy’s owner indicates there was a problem for several weeks with the cows’ bedding material, which may have led to less than optimal sanitation.
Why wouldn’t the agriculture and public health authorities try to work with the dairy to confirm what the problem was, and help it correct any problems? That seems to be the question that comes up more often than it should. And in this situation, the dairy’s owner is quoted as asking the same question, wondering why the authorities wouldn’t want to help her improve her dairy’s safety as opposed to trying to shut her down.
I agree it’s tough to keep seeking dialogue and cooperation when all that happens is you get sand thrown in your face. Yet today there is word that Wisconsin’s head of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is sending new peace signals over the continuing confrontation there over raw milk. DATCP’s head, Rod Nilsestuen, announced formation of a “raw milk working group,” which will include twenty academics, public health officials, dairy processors, consumers, and farmers. Among the farmers is Mark Zinniker, whose farm was closed late last year after an outbreak of illness attributed by public health officials to pathogens in his dairy’s raw milk….”
For details on next Thursday’s post-court rally, see our Events page.