It is common knowledge that purchasing fresh food from a local farmer who practices safe farming techniques is a wonderful choice for nutrition. The problem is, one senator from Tennessee disagrees and has submitted legislation to the Tennessee legislature to put a hard stop to this evil practice. The legislation would ban raw milk purchase through a herd share program and only the sole owner of any animal with hooves to consume the milk of the animal.
This means if you get a goat for your 10-year-old daughter as a birthday gift, your daughter is the only one who can drink the milk from that goat, roughly a quart to two gallons daily. The same is true if she owned a cow, roughly eight gallons each day. It means she can not sell her milk to anyone else splitting ownership of the animal through what is called a herd share. This would put many small farmers out of business.
THIS IS A SERIOUS ATTACK ON CIVIL LIBERTIES. IF YOU OPPOSE IT, YOU SHOULD SPEAK UP NOW.
Senate Bill 15 was proposed by Senator Briggs, a Medical Doctor and retired Colonel, U.S. Army.
Some who are studying the bill say its real purpose is to test the waters of taking away civil liberties, trying to see how much push back people are going to give.
Others say it’s not bound in fact, but is purely politics trying to prey on human emotions.
Others say the legislation is trying to shut down small farmers who compete with big dairy as there is one specific big dairy in Tennessee – Mayfield Farms, owned by Dean Foods. Dean Foods started in 1994 and has an annual revenue of $7.8 billion.
The intent of the raw milk bill is to minimize the dangers of raw milk to children and how to respond when there is an outbreak. Many of you may be aware of the outbreak in Knox County with the near loss of life of many young children in June 2018. We had another outbreak 4 years ago that was just as serious. Other outbreaks have occurred elsewhere in Tennessee.
Adults have the right to make choices, even potentially harmful ones, as long as they are informed and understand the consequences. Children don’t. Adults who drink contaminated milk usually recover in a week or so. Young children can develop prolonged, potentially fatal illnesses (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome) like we’ve seen in Knox County. Some never recover or have permanent brain damage. Over 25 young children have become ill from contaminated raw milk in the last 5 years.
Cow share dairies should be mandated to notify customers when a suspected outbreak with contaminated raw milk occurs and cease selling raw milk until the source of illness is determined. The diaries should not be able to prohibit Health Department investigators from testing their milk and cows.
Only 8 states permit the “cow share” we have in Tennessee. In the southeast, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Virginia, and Kentucky prohibit the sale of raw cow’s milk for human consumption. Tennessee is an outlier in the conservative south.
I wish we could have a civil discussion on how to address the dangers of raw milk consumption in children and how to alert consumers when an outbreak occurs. Some raw milk diaries have refused to release customers names so they can be notified when a contamination has occurred or permitted access for testing without a court order.
I appreciate hearing your opinion on what we can do to make the sale of raw milk safer. We can allow adults to make informed choices but our present cow share laws aren’t working or protecting the public.
Richard M. Briggs, MD
State Senator, Knoxville
Colonel U.S. Army (retired)
Each of these “outbreaks” and “facts” have their own mistakes in numbers. In the recent outbreak, the “near deaths” were connected to people visiting a petting zoo, a known place for contamination. When the milk was tested, no E. coli was found in the milk. If dangerous bacteria from milk was the issue, commercial dairies have been responsible for many, many, many more outbreaks, and deaths. Raw milk deaths rank at 0.12% (1.2 deaths per 1000 illnesses), pasteurized and processed dairy product like cheese are 4.0% (40 in 1000), pasteurized milk is 0.21% (2.1 in 1000). If the issue were truly safety, raw milk wouldn’t be more responsible when pasteurized milk has twice the deaths. Deaths and illnesses from ice cream, Blue Bell Dairy, showing Listeria, E. coli or other bacteria recalls from eggs, romaine lettuce, hamburger, and fruit dwarf the numbers from raw milk.
There are not 8 states which permit herd share purchases, there are 11.
Of the sick children, three walked into the hospital for voluntary testing and walked right back out, they were never admitted. Two of the sick children were from the same family and their father publicly asked Senator Briggs to not pursue this legislation.
Some people say they desire to have access to customer lists merely for potential future lawsuits against the farmer.
One of Senator Brigg’s concerns is the farmer didn’t submit to an illegal search and seizure. Briggs is the Chairman of the Ethics Committee.
To find out who you should contact to express your concerns, find your legislator by clicking here. There are some recommended guidelines to talking to your legislator. Sending an email has big impact. Making a phone call to the legislator has even bigger impact. Visiting your legislator has the most impact. Either method you choose, it’s best to be nice. Name calling and attaching the legislator is a fast way to make them stop listening. Keep your statements to the point is important as a very long email is a rant, which won’t get read. Simply telling them you do not agree with his position because it is an attack on your civil liberties is sufficient. Telling him you will not vote for him in the next election is more important. Telling him you will actively campaign against anyone who threatens civil liberties is also effective.
To get an idea what Senator Bill Briggs believes on the topic, see this recent email reply below. Please note his email address if you want to email him.
From: Richard Briggs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, Jan 19, 2019
Subject: Re: oppose TN SB0015
I have educated myself. Please see the FDA and CDC sites. Your web site references no CDC or FDA site. Also look at the sponsor. The Weston Price Foundation, a know quasi-science advocate.
Purdue University did the definite studies on raw vs. pasteurized milk. There are no significant nutritional differences.
The bill was introduced because Knox County has had two outbreaks of severe illness due to the consumption of raw milk. One in 2013 and another in June 2018. Twenty seven of my constituents have become seriously ill including 9 children under the age of 5 who developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and spent weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at the Knoxville Children’s Hospital near death. One child now has permanent, severe, irreversible brain damage. Other outbreaks have occurred in Tennessee. These families also never had a problem with raw milk – until their children nearly died.
The intent of the raw milk bill is to minimize the dangers of raw milk to children and how to respond when there is an outbreak. Adults have the right to make choices, even potentially harmful ones, as long as they are informed and understand the consequences. Children don’t. Adults who drink contaminated milk usually recover in a week or so. Young children can develop prolonged, potentially fatal illnesses (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome) like we’ve seen in Knox County. Some never recover or have permanent brain damage.
Cow share dairies should be mandated to notify customers when a suspected outbreak with contaminated raw milk occurs and cease selling raw milk until the source of illness is determined. The dairies should not be able to prohibit Health Department investigators from testing their cows and continue selling potentially contaminated milk. Some raw milk dairies have refused to release cow share customer’s names so they can be notified when a contamination has occurred or permitted access for testing without a court order.
Only 8 states permit the “cow share” we have in Tennessee. In other “cow share” states, the industry is regulated and tested on a regular basis – not in Tennessee. Tennessee is an outlier in the conservative south.
The real question is how much do we value the lives of children? How many children’s lives do we put at risk in the name of freedom of choice? The legislature will have to decide.
Raw Milk & Pasteurization: Debunking Milk Myths (From the FDA Web Site)
While pasteurization has helped provide safe, nutrient-rich milk and cheese for over 120 years, some people continue to believe that pasteurization harms milk and that raw milk is a safe, healthier alternative.
Here are some common myths and proven facts about milk and pasteurization:
· Pasteurizing milk DOES NOT cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins.
· Raw milk DOES NOT kill dangerous pathogens by itself.
· Pasteurization DOES NOT reduce milk’s nutritional value.
· Pasteurization DOES NOT mean that it is safe to leave milk out of the refrigerator for extended time, particularly after it has been opened.
· Pasteurization DOES kill harmful bacteria.
· Pasteurization DOES save lives.
Richard M. Briggs, MD
State Senator, Knoxville
Colonel U.S. Army (retired)
770 Cordell Hull Bldg.
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Office Phone: 615-741-1766
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