TAKE ACTION: Tell Trump to Help Family Farmers—Lift the FDA’s Ban on Raw Milk

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Trump cutting a red tapeThe Real Food Consumer Coalition has drafted a legal petition asking the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to let raw milk dairy farmers distribute unpasteurized milk in interstate commerce, as long as it bears a warning label and instructions for safe handling. 

We’re asking our networks to support Real Food’s petition by asking the FDA to lift its ban on raw milk. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell Trump to Lift the FDA’s Ban on Raw Milk!

So far, most of Trump’s regulatory rollbacks have benefited major corporations at the expense of food safety, children’s health and organic integrity.

Trump let DowDupont, which donated $1 million to his inauguration, continue to sell the insecticide chlorpyrifos even though it damages children’s developing brains and reduces I.Q.s. He also blocked tougher animal welfare rules for organic poultry.

Instead of continuing to kiss up to the corporations, Trump should consider lifting unnecessary regulatory burdens on family famers, starting with the FDA’s ban on raw milk.

There are only seven states, Montana, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Iowa, and Delaware, where raw milk is expressly illegal. Still, FDA regulations make raw milk contraband whenever it crosses state lines.

Even though the threat of federal prosecution has pushed most farmers away from raw milk sales, 3 percent of the public (approximately 9.4 million people) still regularly consume unpasteurized milk.

Despite its tiny market share, raw milk can be a big contributor the economy. One economic study found that if Wisconsin had just 100 raw milk dairy farms that each served 50 families, those farms would pump $10 million into the state’s economy. 

A boost like that is exactly what rural economies need as U.S. dairy farmers continue going out of business at an unsustainable rate. In 1950, there were about 3.5 million farms with milking cows. By 2016, there were only 41,809. Between 2015 and 2016, 1725 dairy farms went under.

Dairy farmers are suffering because the companies that send their milk to the grocery store refuse to pay them what it costs them to produce the milk. On the West Coast, cooperatives created to sell dairy products have been accused by their members of pocketing millions of dollars in an elaborate accounting scheme.  

Meanwhile, farmers in the Northeast have filed a lawsuit against their coop, Dairy Farmers of America, and Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk processor, alleging the companies conspired to monopolize the market and drive down prices, knowing their member farmers would have nowhere else to sell their milk.

Milk prices are so bad this year—farmers are getting the same price they got 20 years ago—that at least one milk processor sent farmers phone numbers for suicide prevention hotlines and other mental health services along with the latest market forecasts.

Organic dairy farmers get paid better, but they’re also facing prices below the cost of production. (Selling raw milk direct to consumers was a good way for organic dairy farmers to weather price fluctuations until Organic Valley banned the practice.) 

Economists at the Economic Research Service have found that farmers who market goods directly to consumers are more likely to stay in business than those who market only through traditional channels.

Trump claims to care about farmers and rural America. Here’s his chance to prove it. By allowing farmers to sell raw milk direct to consumers, Trump and the FDA could help keep America’s dairy farmers in business.

 

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