Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

March 4, 2013

Local dairy farmers support bill to bring raw milk to area markets

MIXON — A local dairy owner who is a certified raw milk provider calls a recently filed bill to expand options for selling unpasteurized milk in Texas “a good thing,” adding health guidelines also would needed to be implemented to ensure a safe product.

“It would be a real good thing if (House Bill 46) would pass, because farmers could sell raw milk at farmers' markets or deliver it to our customers,” said Mark Ganske, owner of the Way Back When Dairy in Mixon. “But (legislators) are going to have to make regulations (to meet health and safety concerns).”

State Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton, recently filed the bill during the legislation's early filing period. State Sen. Bob Duell, of Greenville, filed a raw milk bill during the 2011 session but it did not get a committee hearing, according to the Texas Tribune.

Ganske's family started the dairy in 1948 and began offering raw milk to their clients nearly a decade ago. They also were into the large-scale commericial side of dairy farming, selling pasteurized milk until last fall, when Ganske said they sold their commercial herd.

Now, the dairy focuses on providing raw milk, cream and, by April, butter.

“We're getting quite a few people coming in now, they've learned that we're back open after sold we sold our commercial herd,” Ganske said. “We've also been told that they come by because they heard our radio ad, and there's word of mouth bringing people in.”

Last summer, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a letter on the ongoing public health hazard of consuming raw milk.

“The role of raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products in the transmission of infectious diseases is well-documented,” said the CDC, describing how the pasteurization process heats milk to a certain temperature to kill disease-causing bacteria.

“Raw milk was recognized as a source of severe infections over 100 years aog, and pasteurization of milk to prevent these infections is one of the public health triumphs of the 20th century,” it said.

The government gives “a lot of precaution,” Ganske said, but conscientious raw milk providers understand the need to provide a safe environment.

His products are Grade A certified, because “we have a state inspector visit our facilities twice a month,” to meet health standards, he said.

If the proposed raw milk bill can also “control (health and safety issues) so that fresh, raw milk is available to the public, it'd be a great thing. Because they need to manage testing of milk somehow so that there is no (bacterial) outbreak,” Ganske said.

While older generations in the area may recall drinking milk straight from the cow, it's not something their grandchildren have experienced, because the government is fully behind pasteurization of dairy products.

“I just wish the younger generation could have that opportunity, too,” he said.

HB 46 remains pending before the House Public Health Committee.

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