CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With raw milk jugs lined up on the statehouse steps Wednesday, protesters said “no” to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of the raw milk bill last month.
The bill (SB 30) does not allow for the retail sale of raw milk, but it does call for the establishment of herd-sharing agreements where consumers could co-own milk-producing animals.
Tinia Creamer, a farmer from Lavalette and the Weston A Price chapter leader for the state, said she supports the consumption of raw milk under the premise that it’s healthier.
“It’s a freedom issue. If you prefer it, you should have access to it,” said Creamer.
Tomblin rejected the measure because it raised public health concerns. In his veto message, he said the bill itself mentions that raw milk may contain “bacteria that is particularly dangerous to children, pregnant women and those with compromised immunity.”
Creamer said she believes people should have the right to know the farmer they’re receiving food from.
“The only way to do that is if there are raw milk sales,” she said.
Creamer received a letter in the mail concerning a West Virginia farm that was destroyed “because of the governor’s veto.”
“This is an economic issue. It is never and will never be a public health issue,” she said.
Creamer has used raw milk in her family home for years. She said her three children think the idea of commercial milk is “repugnant.”
Kalyn Roberts, a farmer of Buchannon, said she has not invested in dairy animals on her farm because then she would have to get rid of extra milk that is produced.
“I can’t make any money off of it, so it would just be a waste of our time. We stick to the eggs right now just because that’s legal, but maybe somebody will take notice of what’s going on,” said Roberts.
Roberts and her two children held poster boards Wednesday to show their support. Her daughter’s read “Got Milk? Not in WV.” and her son’s had a picture of a Mountain Dew bottle and a raw milk bottle that said “I can buy this (Mountain Dew), but not this (raw milk). Seems legit.”
“It’s very stupid, even as a child, he can go buy Mountain Dew and it’s not good for him, but he can’t buy raw milk, so it just doesn’t seem like it makes a whole lot of sense,” she said.
Roberts’ poster featured images of cigarettes, alcohol, and energy drinks that are available for retail in West Virginia.
“If it was truly about safety then those things would be illegal and the raw milk would be okay,” Roberts said.
During the 2015 legislative session, the votes on passing the raw milk bill were 18-15 in the state Senate and 78-15 in the House of Delegates.