Associated Press reports that our state legislature is considering a bill to allow the practice of “herd sharing” to enable West Virginians to consume raw milk. As a dairy farmer, encouraging milk consumption is what I do every day, but in this case, I strongly oppose this measure, because of the risks it places on human health.
West Virginia dairy farmers work tirelessly to ensure the milk we produce is safe, wholesome and of the highest quality. We do that by keeping our cows healthy and feeding them a nutritious diet, and through comprehensive on-farm testing. Then, at the time of milk processing, we rely on pasteurization– a simple, proven and effective method that kills harmful pathogens like bacteria – as a final step to assure the safety of milk and dairy products.
Don’t just take my word for it – the Centers for Disease Control and the US Food and Drug Administration agree – recommending that no one consume unpasteurized milk. In December 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) took it a step further, issuing a policy statement that says there is no scientific evidence to support claims of health benefits from drinking raw milk and that significant health risks exist with raw milk consumption (especially for pregnant women, the elderly and children).
AAP also endorsed a nationwide ban on the sale of raw dairy products, citing substantial data that suggest pasteurized milk “confers equivalent health benefits compared with raw milk, without the additional risk of bacterial infections.”
West Virginia currently bans all sales of raw milk – a law that is in the best interest of the state’s citizens and should remain intact without the threat of misguided legislation like House Bill 4273.
I want to commend the Hillsboro Senior Citizens on the excellent letter in opposition to the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. They did a great job detailing the reasons we should all oppose the proposal. It was accomplished in a way that touched all the issues in a clear, quiet manner.
One point I want to make is that the management problems on the Monongahela National Forest is only partially the fault of the Forest Service. Approximately 60 percent of the Monongahela is closed to most forms of Forest Service management. This includes timbering. This closure reflects the portion of the forest in Wilderness Areas, roadless areas, recreation areas and similar special set aside areas.
When the Forest Service does propose a timber sale on the remaining 40 percent, several environmental groups protest. They use any and all means available including the court to block the project as long as possible. This forces the Forest Service to spend thousands of dollars conducting unnecessary sutdies and in court actions. It generally takes at lease two years and frequently much longer to get the project approved.
Forest Service management isn’t perfect but much of the problem reflects the actions of the same groups supporting the proposed National Monument. If the National Monument is established, the problem will only get worse.