|Patra, age 5, Brown Swiss, lifelong resident of |
South Pork Ranch and raw milk producer.
Five days ago on May 1, was the Dairy Work Group of The Illinois Department of Public Health(IDPH) met for the fourth time. This was the meeting raw milk advocates had been preparing for since I first learned of IDPH's plan to restrict raw milk sales back in February.
For the last 9 weeks, raw milk farmers, consumers and those who believe we should be allowed to eat and drink as we choose have been preparing for this meeting. We did our research, we checked our sources, we consulted with those brighter than us and we spread the word across Illinois that IDPH had plans to pass laws that would make raw milk production and sales nearly impossible.
And on May 1 we showed up.
What an amazing day that was! Consumers and farmers from all over the state drove to Bloomington Illinois to listen to the Dairy Work Group discuss the pros and cons (mostly cons) of the proposed rules. Reporters attended from several publications and in the afternoon testimony of raw milk lovers was heard. One of those was Dr. Mark Rosenbloom of the Chicago Medical Society who read his groups proposed resolution in support of raw milk.
Yes, that is correct, physicians in support of raw milk
In addition, testimony supporting raw milk consumption was also heard from attorneys, a minister, young mothers and a retired Indiana Health Department Director of Foodborne Illnesses.
But even with all the very positive actions that took place that day many of us left the meeting frustrated, and with good reason.
Despite our well researched, well prepared stance against the proposed rules, IDPH director Molly Lamb did not remove a single one from the list.
Despite her reassurance to the standing room only group of supporters that 'We are just in the discussion stage" IDPH director Dr LaMar Hasbrouck sent a letter to the General Assembly on April 9th without the knowledge of the Dairy Work Group, telling our Representatives in both the Illinois House and Senate that " unpasteurized milk cannot be considered safe under any circumstances."
Despite the fact that Dr Hasbrouck also said in his April 9th letter "The department and it's Dairy Work Group proposes the following main focal points..." and he goes on to list additional proposed rules that WERE NEVER DISCUSSED by the Dairy Work Group in their last meeting Feb 22. Two additional proposed rules were (1) Institute a maximum sell by date from the time the container was filled and (2) Allow for sale targeting animal consumption.
So while on one hand we are being told by the meetings facilitator Molly Lamb, that we "must work together" and we need to be "professional in our actions" her own boss is submitting information to the law makers of our state without the knowledge of the group who is supposed to be proving invaluable input.
So much for IDPH's own Mission Statement which lists as a principle
"Partnership and collaboration to achieve coordinated response to community health issues"
Obviously our work has just begun. The Dairy Work Groups next Conference call is scheduled for June 11. These are open meetings that any consumer, farmer or interested citizen can call in and listen to. To get specific information on how to do this please go to IDPH's Web Site where you will also be able to review the minutes of the May 1 mtg which must be posted as well.
Please continue to contact your representatives, the Illinois Department of Public Health at 217- 782 4977, and your local news paper via letters to the editor. Please complete the comment page also on the IDPH website (click on "calendar" then go to the May 1 Dairy Work Group Paragraph for the link to the comment page) Tell them how restricted access will affect you and your family as well as your farmer. Remind them that Illinois is broke and doesn't have the money to enforce areas that do not need enforcement.
Tell them there is no reason to fix what is not broken.