The American Farm Bureau Federation likes to paint itself as the friend of farmers and free markets. That is certainly not the case and I present the most recent egregious example of obnoxious behavior as proof.
I blogged about HB1785 in Virginia's General Assembly last week that would allow farmers to make yogurt and sell it (because it's a heated and cultured product, not a single food safety issue has ever been reported with yogurt), enabling dairy farmers to enjoy a value added market option. It also increased the current cap on homemade pickles from $3,000 annually to $4,000 annually and gave additional wiggle room for homemade baking. All of this would be only within the confines of a direct producer-consumer relationship, or what legally is known as an "end user." No middlemen in this picture.
The Virginia Farm Bureau seized on the yogurt portion and sent a bald-faced lie in a member email to whip up opposition:
Ask House Ag Committee to OPPOSE THE SALE OF UNPASTEURIZED MILK
There is a battle going on and we need your help! Legislators need to hear from Farm Bureau members on a critical issue. Please contact members of the House Agriculture Committee and ask them to OPPOSE House Bill 1785. This bill will be heard in the full committee TOMORROW morning, and your action is crucial to this vote!
Virginia Farm Bureau members believe that milk and dairy products sold in Virginia for human consumption should be from pasteurized and inspected sources. An increase in food borne illness outbreaks from unregulated dairy products will negatively affect the health of families and citizens within the Commonwealth and has the potential to have a significant negative economic impact on Virginia’s regulated dairy industry.
HB1785 (Fariss) that seeks to allow an exemption from inspection for yogurt processed and produced in private homes and sold in the home or at farmers markets. This would allow for the unregulated production and sale of a potentially hazardous and high risk food. The bill would allow yogurt to be produced using unpasteurized milk. The bill would remove the authority of the State Health Commissioner to enforce regulations pertaining to yogurt produced under these conditions.
A 2015 CDC study indicated that during 2007-2012, a total of 81 outbreaks associated with unpasteurized milk were reported from 26 states. These outbreaks resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. This is a significant increase in outbreaks associated with unpasteurized milk, and the increase parallels the number of states allowing the sale of unpasteurized milk. An additional study revealed that probably no more than 1% of the milk consumed in the United States is raw, yet more outbreaks were caused by raw milk than pasteurized milk. According to the CDC, “These studies indicate that outbreaks from raw milk continue to threaten the public’s health.
You should only consume pasteurized milk and milk products. Look for the word “pasteurized” on product labels. Virginia lost about one dairy a week in 2018. Virginia’s dairy industry is struggling and cannot afford to weather the negative impacts related to even just one health incident involving a dairy product. The remaining farms need to protect the quality and integrity of the industry in order to survive. Contact the House Agriculture Committee NOW.
Of course, this email is patently false, alluding to raw milk. The bill had nothing to do with raw milk. This is the kind of deception the Farm Bureau engages in to protect food tyranny and demonize food freedom. And they say they're the friend of the farmer. Honestly, I don't know how any American can be a member of this organization. The opposition killed the bill, of course. Another strike against food choice.
If you're a Farm Bureau member, would you be willing to find insurance somewhere else? I recommend Farm and Family.