Friday, March 28, 2014

URGENT POST: Raw Milk Monday Continued...HB 4036 wants to make all raw milk ILLEGAL in Illinois

Well Good Afternoon,

Now grab a big cup of coffee or raw milk or Pepsi or whatever YOU as an American choose to drink and settle in for some very disturbing raw milk updates. If you follow me on Facebook this post is both a recap of the events of the last 3 days as well as essential action steps needed RIGHT NOW.

When I last posted just 4 days ago I informed you of IDPH's back handed work with the proposed rules and regulations now making their way through that department. Less than 24 hours after that post I was informed by a Springfield contact, that House Representative Daniel Burke was sponsoring HB 4036 Amendment # 1 that would make all sales of raw milk in Illinois illegal.

This flies in opposition of what our own Molly Lamb of the Illinois Department of Public Health promised us, the members of the Dairy Work Group, which was that they never intended to make raw milk illegal, they just wanted to make it "safe." I'll come back to that point soon. 


This House Bill 4036  (Listed under The Restroom Access Act, how sneaky is that?) was scheduled to go to the Human Services Committee of The Illinois General Assembly Wednesday am March 26 at 0800. Representative Burke and the co-sponsor of that bill, Representative Mary E. Flowers chose to alter this act which previously stated this:


After the effective date of this Act, no person shall sell or distribute, offer to sell or distribute any milk or milk product for human use or consumption unless such milk or milk product has been pasteurized and has been produced and processed in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Department.   

The term "sell or distribute for use or consumption" means to sell or distribute to a person for human use or consumption and not for processing or resale in any form.
    The pasteurization requirement of this Section shall not be applicable to milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations if sold or distributed on the premises of the dairy farm.  

Now look at that last paragraph. This is how raw milk dairies have been allowed to sell raw milk in Illinois. Let me point out the phrase "milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations".  Please remember the department they are referring to is the Illinois Department of Public Health who to this day does not yet have any rules related to raw milk production, they only have unenforceable policy, which is why they are fighting tooth and nail to get those rules passed that we objected to. (See my post on Monday)

But Representative Burke in his amendment altered that part of the bill so it looked like this:

The term "sell or distribute for use or consumption" means to sell or distribute to a person for human use or consumption and not for processing or resale in any form.
    The pasteurization requirement of this Section shall not be applicable to milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations if sold or distributed on the premises of the dairy farm.  

By eliminating the final sentence he and Representative Flowers would make ALL RAW MILK ILLEGAL IN ILLINOIS.

With just hours to spare, many of us who either produce or consume raw milk here got busy making phones calls and sending emails. We told folks to call Representatives Burke and Flowers, their own representatives as well, and we told them how to file an official slip opposition to the bill on Illinois General Assembly Web Page.

The response was immediate and amazing. I stayed up until midnight Tuesday eve just watching the opposition slips roll in. By 0750 the next morning there were 390 opposition slips to this bill and only 16 proponents to the bill. It is crucial to note three things.

1. Of all 16 proponents to HB4036 , 14 were representatives from various Public Health Departments in our state and only 2 were consumers.

2. Of the 390 who opposed HB4036 the large majority were consumers, the very same people that IDPH claims to be protecting, are clearly saying “we don’t want your protection, WE WANT RAW MILK.”

So how did that vote go? Sadly the Members of The Human Services Committee (composed of 9 Democrats and 6 Republicans) voted to pass the bill, with its amendment making raw milk illegal in Illinois.  9 Democrats for the bill to 6 Republicans opposed. Imagine that.

Now here is where I get back to public health as I promised in paragraph 4 above. We had to wonder how did this bill pass when so many folks registered their opposition PRIOR to the committee mtg. Well, I would venture that it had to do with the "FACT SHEET" complied by Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, Inc.  which was circulated to the committee members. The fact sheet is a very tiresome repeat of old CDC statistics that suggest raw milk "May cause illness and possibly death"

I may fall down my basement steps, hit my head and die of a cerebral hemorrhage as well. Gonna ban my use of basement steps, Public Health?

But I regress, anyway... there are just 12 bullet points on this Fact Sheet and only 5 separate resources, barely enough to meet high school research paper standards. All of these same very broad raw milk statistics have been churned out over and over ad nauseum.

Consider this my challenge to you, Northern Illinois Public Health;  What if you shared the exact number of raw milk related illnesses resulting from milk produced by ILLINOIS raw milk farmers in the last decade in the 2 cities and 9 counties you currently serve? And what if you took the time and trouble as many of you were taught in your MHA and MBA classes to compare those statistics to the number of adults and children in those same areas who were ill/hospitalized/died after consuming tainted pasteurized milk as well as all other food borne illnesses? And, because I know you want to do your best at this task...what if you expanded your reference list a bit? Include the well-established Westin A Price Organization, perhaps.

Of course I have made several attempts to talk with Chrissy Carlson the Executive Director at Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, Inc.  I'm sure she is busy but since their mission statement says that they are

Serving as a point of exchange for information, innovation, and collaboration in promoting health, preventing disease and protecting our communities.

I'm sure she'll get back to me soon. Unless she has been told like so many others in various other county health departments which my husband and I have been calling the last few days that they are to make "No Comment" Including public health departments SOUTH of I-80.

How is that for professional accountability?


 BUT, the numerous phone calls. Emails, texts, Facebook messages sent by raw milk farmers and consumers, did hit nerves and in fact phases from various representatives offices such as "we've really opened a hornet’s nest with this one" are circulating on the internet. And let me just say a big THANK YOU to my own Representatives Josh Harms and Jason Barrickman who took time to listen to my concerns.

So the Bill was reviewed again by the Human Services Committee at 3pm March 26, but strangely I cannot find the results of THAT meeting. You can see all the other bills discussed at that time HERE but no mention of HB 4036 Amendment #1. Another phone call to those who manage this website with no clear answers and a request that a supervisor return my call.

So where do we stand? In a thorny thicket that must be cut away.

What can you do? Please take a moment today or tomorrow to contact all the Members of The Human Services Committee as well as your own representatives in the event this language to ban all raw milk sales shows up in another bill or at another time. Tell them how you feel about raw milk. And let me be clear, if you are opposed then I encourage you to call as well. I may not agree with you but I certainly support your right to your opinion.

Finally, if you are a customer of ours feel free to share these grim statistics. If raw milk sales are banned in Illinois our farm would (If we chose to follow the law) immediately lose 40-50% of its income. Not just in raw milk sales but in the other products we sell to customers (like beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and soap) who travel to our farm for their milk. Our farm has only been able to stay in the black financially because we sell a diversity of products. Take a major product away and all the other product sales will suffer as a result. Recovery would be time consuming, expensive.

Other small farms will have to shut their doors. Already one of the amazing raw milk farmers that worked with us on The Dairy Work Group informed me this week he is selling his herd. Just one of the many small dairy farm fatalities which would continue to occur should future draconian measures against raw milk in Illinois rear there Big-Dairy-Over-Involved-Public-Health-Fire-Breathing-Heads.

Final Note: I worked in healthcare as a nurse aide and then and RN for over 36 years, in two states and I NEVER ONCE cared for a patient who became ill as a direct result of raw milk consumption. I do not doubt that these illnesses exist but the risk is minimal and must be accurately reported.

The elimination of raw milk sales in Illinois will cause (now) safely produced raw milk availability to plummet, will promote illegal and unsafe production by those eager to make big money from a $40 gallon of raw milk, and will destroy hundreds of small famers in Illinois and most disturbing it will dramatically INCREASE the number of raw milk illnesses in Illinois.  Raw Milk farmers of Illinois have been self governing and self improving for decades. Raw Milk consumers have been our "inspectors."
Why insist on fixing that which is not broken?

Post post note. Just seconds ago (12:44 pm) I received an email from another raw milk farmer who talked with his representative who told him this today...

"Just wanted to let you know that I talked with my representative, and he said he is opposed to the ban on milk sales and that he talked to the sponsor Rep Burke and that Burke did this as a favor to IDPH but didn't "realize" what he was doing but now sees the light and promises not to carry it forward anymore. So he said "Don't worry, it will not come up for a vote".

Like anything else that comes from "on-high" I'll believe it when I see it. But the statement did make me smile!

Update 1:00 pm Chrissy Carlson of The Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, Inc. did just now return my call. I'll post about that tomorrow























  1. I don't believe for one nano-second that Burke didn't realize what he was doing. He does not be need to be doing "favors" for ANY departments, he needs to be listening to the citizens and doing his own research. If this is how haphazardly he sponsors and votes for bills, then he is NOT worthy of being in a position with such power. And do you want a representative that amdits he doesn't realize what he's doing? Doesn't instill much confidence.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! I couldn't find the outcome and your post was very helpful. Raw dairy makes up around 50% of my family's diet and it's what keeps us healthy. If this goes into law, it's the same thing as stealing my food and there is no freedom in that. How would these politicians like it if corn syrup, sugar or hydrogenated oils suddenly became illegal?! That would make around 95% of all grocery store products illegal to sell. Thank you again!

    1. Deborah, it appears as if our actions have made a difference and in fact there are rumors now this bill will be withdrawn. Of course they remains to be seen but now that we are all aware we can WATCH CLOSELY for future action. So happy you are following this!

  3. While I sit here and growl in anger, I can't help but wonder what is next. McDonald's products are far more dangerous to public health, but there is big $$ there. Deborah brought up more food products that could join the list.

    The word "helpless to resist" comes to mind. Keep fighting the battle, Donna.

    1. Susan, last year while The Dairy Work Group met every month or so, we often worked through lunch. Farmers and consumers often brought their own from home including raw milk of course. The officials of IDPH, the same who swore up and down they only wanted to protect the public from unsafe food, often brought in bags of Mc D's and never once seemed to recognize the irony!

  4. Red wine is the answer; forget raw milk, and join the happy brigade! Either that or take to the barricades.

  5. Not bad advice Cro. Being angry every day is neither good for head, heart or gut. Tonight I will crack open the bottle of red wine in my kitchen and I will indeed toast that happy brigade...and then Monday, I'll get all wound up again. Balance in everything right?

  6. I drink natural milk and was never sick of it .I am 62 this year ! I wonder how much money BIG deary processors put in privet pockets to keep raw milk from the public ???


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