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Raw milk a go in Colorado

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is applauding the recent decision by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to deny a rule change that would have prohibited people access to raw milk from their own cows.

“RMFU is a long-time supporter of consumer rights, including the rights of this group of consumers wishing to buy raw milk through ownership of ‘cow shares,’ and we have supported them since this issue came up,” said John Stencel, RMFU president.

Colorado law prohibits the sale of raw (unpasteurized and unhomogenized) milk to consumers, saying the law is in the interest of public health. To bypass this regulation, consumers and producers have established a time-tested system whereby the consumer buys shares and helps pay for expenses in a farmer’s dairy cow herd.

Proponents of raw milk point to studies saying that pasteurization and homogenization destroy nutrients and beneficial enzymes.

“I have seen many patients with food allergies who are unable to tolerate pasteurized milk, yet have no difficulty with milk in its natural (raw) state,” said Dr. Deborah Hall, M.D., Greeley, Colo. “This is because pasteurization, which kills bacteria, also destroys the lactase enzymes normally present in unadulterated (raw) milk.” The proposed rule change that was debated and defeated would have prohibited consumers who have invested in farmers’ cow herds from drinking the milk unless it were pasteurized.

“RMFU strongly supports a consumer’s right to choose, as well as the farmer’s right to produce what his customers want and what will provide him with higher returns,” said RMFU Executive Director Ben Way, who testified at the hearing on behalf of the farm organization, which represents over 22,000 family farmers and ranchers in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Among the consumers attending the hearing, which attracted an estimated 300 people in Denver and via closed circuit television in Durango and Ft. Collins, were those like RMFU member David Lynch, who operates Guidestone Farm, near Loveland, Colo. Lynch has been producing & marketing raw milk for nearly 30 years and has never had anyone get sick from it.

“Where milk is processed in large-scale operations and passed through a number of intermediaries, pasteurization is essential, but in a small scale operation like ours, a safe and fresh product can be supplied that meets Grade A criteria.”