When not being dumped, raw milk has helped keep food banks stocked


The “French solution” of easing up on the rules for the use and sale of raw milk in lieu of dumping it,  is finding its way to America.

In Vermont, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Vermont Community Foundation are teaming up to pay farmers for raw milk that go into a temporary supply at the Vermont Food Bank.

Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s secretary of agriculture, said state dairy farmers will be paid by private funds raised by the Vermont Community Foundation’s COVID-19 relief program.

Dairy Farmers of American and Commonweath Dairly LLC are participating by processing the milk for a donation of 42,000 cups of yogurt and more than 11,500 gallons of 2 percent milk for the Vermont Food Bank.

Tebbetts says more private donations will be used to buy more milk and distribute it to the needy.

Dumping raw milk is one of the COVID-19 crisis side effects, experienced across the country when dairy farmers found themselves unable to sell their milk when processors hit the brakes because their usual orders from schools, restaurants, and other institutions ended.

French authorities have eased rules around the use and sale of raw milk because of the coronavirus pandemic. France’s Ministry of Agriculture has temporarily adopted measures making it easier for producers to market their unpasteurized, raw milk for direct sale.

In Newville, PA, dairy farmers Jen Zinn and Roy Coale are asking the state for raw milk permits so they can sell milk without processing it. Without the permit, their only option to dump 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of milk each day.

Zinn says the number of processors is limited and not all of them are set up to receive liquid milk to process. More importantly, however, is that processors in the area are all running a surplus, are set up for bulk distribution, and are not set up for retail.

Pennsylvania takes several weeks to process a raw milk permit. The state requires tests of the herd and insurance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most U.S. states have standing public health warnings about the dangers of drinking unpasteurized, raw milk. Without pasteurization, bacteria, viruses and parasites can survive in raw milk.

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