Tuesday January 19, 2010 | Politics of Dairy Farming in NC

January 19, 2010 at 9:35 am | Posted in Coming Up | 13 Comments

Our series on ‘the politics of farming’ continues with a look at the dairy industry in our region. There are dairy farmers throughout the area and they range from small, independent farms to co-ops serving large commercial producers. We’ll explore the day to day operations of a dairy farm, the policies that regulate the industry and the push by local farmers to more directly connect with residents who want their milk. Join us for a look at the politics of farming and the dairy industry.
Chester Lowder
– Livestock Director, NC Farm Bureau
Jim Price – Owner, Lakeview Farms Home Delivery Inc.
Charlie Payne – Dairy Farmer

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  1. What about raw milk? I know there’s a sort of underground movement for that. I’ve never had it, but I’d certainly try it.

    • Following radio program. Raw milk is strongly emontional issue on both sides. At the time of my leaving the regulation job state of NC was strongly against raw milk. Large out break of Listeria monocetagineis (spelling) based on illegal sale from commercial farm to itinerate Hispanic cheese makers, (just like home! in Mexico). Horrible sanitation of chesse makers killed a couple Moms and their kids. However, Vermont allows local sale of raw milk to neighbors. Diffent regulatory climente, diffent culture.
      Mass sales of milk are currently dependent on pasterization. UHT to solw and low are the the dairy plants economic decision.

      • Sure there are dangers involved with raw milk, but raw milk is the way milk is supposed to be consumed. ALL food has a danger associated with it, whether milk, meat, vegetables, fruit, and so on.

        As the people in the program said, pasteurization kills all of the helpful bacteria and renders the milk ‘sterile.’ It also reduces the fat/cream content. Natural unpasteurized milk actually has very beneficial health benefits, with evidence going back thousands of years – it even has natural antibiotic properties.

        Luckily the raw/unpasteurized milk movement is growing, and in time hopefully milk will again be consumed as it is supposed to be, that is raw. It is absurd that the increasdingly communistic government of the USA makes it illegal for people to drink raw milk when that is the way it was drank for thousands of years.

        In Tennessee, as one example, people have testified before the State House to legalize raw milk – http://www.freetennessee.org/ISSUES_OF_INTEREST/Raw_Milk_Testimony/

      • Additionally, most of the pasteurized/sterile milk sold in big grocery stores comes from GRAIN FED cattle – the same is true of meat cattle to.

        The problem with that is that cattle evolved to eat grass, not grain; so when cattle is fed grain (not grass) the milk (or meat) they produce is nowhere near as healthy. The difference is organic vs. non-organic. Cattle is meant to eat grass, their digestive system is not meant to eat grains such as corn or things like soybeans and so on.

        Again, cattle is supposed to be GRASS FED, not grain fed – grass fed cattle is organic, grain fed cattle is non-organic. Organic (grass) is much healthier than non-organic (grain).

  2. Putting my name out for questions, as I belive a man should be responsible and accountable. Some points; milk is checked at plant by the tank load for water, drugs and bacteria load. Used to be neigborhood milk supply, now vast quanties are blended togeather. (Some of those 18 wheeler tankers are filled one half of a day’s production from one dairy farm).
    Raw milk: it’s a passionate subject, and I can only talk about the public health issues. Key word being public.
    Size matters on production costs and engery costs, also conside the wal-mart factor. Big stores want big suppliers

  3. I’m lactose intolerant. How can I get lactose free local milk?

    • Not my area of certain expertise…I can’t spell it but:
      “a dof o lis” milk was developed; at I belive NC State, to adress this. The bacteria in the milk eat the sugars. This allows easier digestion. Lactose is also called milk sugar. Used to be a grocery store item, belive Harris Teeter carries it.
      hope this helps.

  4. At the beginning of the program Mike said that in the USA everyone has milk (or ice cream) in their refrigerator. That isn’t true. People of Black/African racial descent are lactose intolerant, and they cannot drink milk because it doesn’t agree with their system. The same is true of people of Asian (especially East Asian) descent – they are lactose intolerant as well, and cow’s milk can make them feel sick when they drink. Hispanics, if they are mostly of Native American (American Asian) descent, they are lactose intolerant too.

    Conversely, people of White/Caucasian/European descent are the people who primarily have the lactose tolerance gene cluster – http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/04/07/lactose-tolerance-and-human-evolution/ – this evolved within the last 10,000 years.

    So as the USA increasingly becomes a less White/Caucasian nation, we can expect that the milk production of the USA will slowly drop off sharply – by 2050 people of Caucasian descent will become less than 50% of the population, and milk consumption will drop accordingly.

    • african descended individuals are no more lactose intolerant than any other race. By making the general comment that blacks are lactose intolerant, you disregard the main diet of the massai in kenya where the black race mix blood with milk…(both from a COW) and drink it as a major source of protein and a main staple of their diet. There are other tribes and peoples around the world that do this.

  5. I’m bothered by the misinformation disseminated by North Carolina public officials on the dangers of raw milk. Yes, it is possible to contract Lysteria Moncytoigeneses meningitis (an infection of the brain membrane or meninges by the bacteria Lysteria monocytogenes) from contaminated food products, but it is EXTREMELY rare. Yes, there was an outbreak of Lysteria in North Carolina in 2007, but no one contracted meningitis (although there were two stillbirths attributed to the disease). Because three of the four cases involved pregnant Latinas and all three had consumed soft cheeses from various sources, this was assumed to be the source. It was never confirmed and later tests showed different strains of the bacteria in each case. State officials were quick to blame the outbreak on unpasteurized milk when the source could have been almost anything. The bacteria can be found in soil, water, and raw vegetables. Poor kitchen sanitation is the likely culprit in any case of food poisoning. Raw milk purchased from any reputable dairy will be safe. Dairies have always gone to great lengths to maintain sanitary conditions, and not just because it’s the law. You can’t stay in business if you kill off your customers.

  6. While most people probably closed their ears to what was said (out of fear of food truth) I thought Our Mike drew out the salient facts as best he could to helpfully inform the listening audience. (Excellent technique!) It would be a nice perk to have dairy products delivered to your door but big industrial farming and energy costs contradict the convenience. Recyclable glass bottles would be a big energy/source reduction saver. But that again is a small dairy trait. Sub-boiling pasteurization is far better than ultra-pasteurization: The resulting product retains some useful cultures.

    Here’s a hootful suggestion: Buy some heavy cream (used for whipping and recipes) and shake it in a jar (vigorously-10 minutes). If you are persistent and patient you can make very good unsalted sweet butter in your own kitchen. It’s a terrific kids’ experiment. Wrap it in cheesecloth and store it in the butter compartment just like factory butter. I hope I’ve churned your initiative- You can do it!

    The few of you who find the time to make butter should also support your local farmers and farmers’ markets which can be both dubious and rare in N.C. Most farmers here raise hogs and steers for meat. Goat dairy may be a good alternative for raw milk seekers. Maybe even get your own nanny.

    • Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find heavy cream that isn’t “ultra pasteurized”. Cream treated this way is also ultra homogenized and is unlikely to churn into butter. It also tastes flat with an aftertaste akin to singed cardboard.

      If you are lucky enough to find raw milk, let it stand in the refrigerator for a day. The cream will naturally float to the top. Skim it off (I siphon the milk from under it) and churn this immediately for sweet cream butter. If you allow it to warm slightly in a closed container (50 to 60 degrees), you can shorten the churn time dramatically. Poor off the “buttermilk” and use it for biscuits or pancakes, but don’t wait too long (it “clabbers” quickly). Be sure to rinse the butter several times in cold water to remove excess milk solids. Blending in a half teaspoon of salt after the last rinse will enhance the taste and extend the storage life. For an absolutely amazing taste, let the cream “culture” in the refrigerator for several days first. Lightly salted cultured butter is old world and well worth the effort.

  7. Want to understand more about your milk? Listen to Diane Rehm Show archive (WAMU) for July 9, 2009 about the ongoing crisis in dairy farming.

    This show recalled for me the fact that milk was dumped in the street during the Great Depression due to falling prices (deflation), prices too low to cover production costs. It is another strategic error that deregulation meant the abandonment of price supports for smaller-scaled dairy: Milk can be a price-volatile product and needs market management to ensure an adequate and safe, nutritious supply. It ain’t no free market thang.

    Gimme an ice cream cone!

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