February 4, 2012: In 2011 the proposed Raw Milk Bill worked it's way through the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to the Assembly and the Senate but didn't get enough votes to pass. The bill is not dead however, but has started it's climb through the process once again. This week it was approved by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. It now makes it's way to the Assembly for a vote. Here's a link to the latest on NJ's Raw Milk Bill.
December 2011: This week the Senate bill came up but there were not enough votes.
November 14, 2011: Here's the link to a good review of the raw milk issue in NJ from The Star Ledger newspaper.
Bills to allow raw milk sales in New Jersey have moved out of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and are now being considered by the Senate and Assembly. The identical bills, A743 in the Assembly, sponsored by John DiMaio and Connie Wagner, and S2702 in the Senate, sponsored by Michael Doherty, establish a procedure for permits. The permits would be administered by the NJ Department of Agriculture. Among the requirements for the permits would be semi-annual inspections, regular testing for pathogens and growth hormones may not be used.
March 3, 2011 Update: An amendment was added to the Assembly bill to restrict the sales to farms where the milk is produced.
March 14, 2011 Update: A743 was passed by the Assembly. the bill now goes to the Senate for approval or modification. If it's modified it comes back to the Assembly. if it's approved it goes on to the Governor.
This is great news for proponents of raw milk. New Jersey currently outlaws raw milk sales in the state. New Jersey farmers who may be interested in the additional income they could make by selling permitted raw milk are losing these sales to our Pennsylvania neighbors. Those who like to drink raw milk have not had the choice of purchasing raw milk if they live in NJ.
Here's a little history of the raw milk debate. Cattle and cows are ruminants whose specialized stomachs are made to graze and digest healthy grass. When cattle live on a diet of grazing grass their meat and dairy production is far more nutritious than their counterparts. Products from grass fed cattle are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an Omega 6 fatty acid that's needed for human health too.
In the 19th century the demand for dairy in developing areas resulted in the expansion of herds without expanding their grazing land. The fast growing market naturally led to more crowded quarters, and many urban farms ended up using a by-product from liquor distilleries known as "slop" to make up for the smaller pastures to feed their cattle. While this slop kept cows lactating, it didn't keep them healthy like their grass grazing past had. The addition of more grain than grass also contributed to the problem. As urban farms, in particular, became more crowded unhealthy cows could be found wallowing in the waste from their unhappy stomachs, and naturally as the cows became more unhealthy, so did their surroundings and ultimately their milk & meat.
In the 1890's two solutions were implemented. One was a farm certification program conducted by medical certifying boards.a pasteurization program. When pasteurized, milk is heated at high temperatures (at least 161.5 F for 15 seconds or more) and sterilized. Both were a good idea, and they didn't need to become mutually exclusive. While truly healthy milk was being certified, the less nutritional milk was pasteurized. Milk became healthy to drink again, and infant mortality rates declined.
A campaign was started claiming only pasteurized milk was healthy and eventually consumers were convinced raw unpasteurized milk was dangerous. Most states implemented laws outlawing the sale of raw milk. Our milk was now uniformly safe, but we'd lost the high nutritional value in our milk.
Moving forward to the present, many states now allow the consumption of raw milk. Here at Raw Milk Nation is a site where you can see the variety of raw milk laws. The laws take many different forms, some only allowing sales directly from the farm, some requiring stringent certification. This has come about because of the belief by many consumers that raw milk is healthier if the cows are properly fed and managed. This has created a very solid movement of consumers who feel they should have the right to make their own decision as to whether or not they want to drink raw milk.
I'll leave you with an interesting tidbit about the health claims of raw milk. The heat used when pasteurizing milk naturally degrades the vitamins in the milk. It also destroys the natural bacteria and enzymes. These are the bacteria and enzymes that keep pathogens at bay. These are also the very bacteria and enzymes the human body needs in order to break down and digest the milk. Milk, it turns out, is one more product we've over processed so much we've made it indigestible for humans.
Here's information on where you can contact your state NJ representatives if you'd like them to support these bills.
NaturalJersey.com was created in order to have a place on the web where we can all share the great green & natural health resources in NJ. I hope you find it a never ending resource when you're looking for health-minded local businesses.