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Group Protests Raw Milk Veto

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Ashton Marra
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
A group of dairy farmers, supporters and their families gathered on the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday to protest Governor Tomblin's veto of Senate Bill 30, a bill that would have allowed cow and goat owners to drink the raw milk they produce.

Nearly 40 people gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to protest Governor Tomblin’s veto of a bill to allow for herd-sharing in the state, allowing more West Virginians to consume raw milk.

Senate Bill 30 passed with overwhelming support by both the House and Senate, despite some health concerns attached to the bill. 

Herd sharing is when the owner of a milk producing animal pays a farmer to board their cow or goat for them. The herd share owner can then obtain the raw milk from their animal, but does not purchase the product from the farmer.

The bill itself acknowledges the bacteria in raw milk can be dangerous for pregnant women, children and people with compromised immune systems, which Gov. Tomblin cited in his veto message.

"A product with these types of health risks should be subject to more supervision than merely requiring a person to release the seller from any liability for such risks," Tomblin wrote.

Tomblin also said in that message the bill lacks any provisions for oversight or regulation of the handling or storage of the product.

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Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Supporters held signs against the governor's decision.

Tinia Creamer led the charge behind getting the bill passed. She is a small dairy farmer from Wayne County who believes the bill is about ownership of the animals and not about the health risks, which she says are minimal.

“This was not about raw milk sales," she said. "It allowed people to co-own livestock. It’s really not the government’s business to come in and say you need to answer to the public health department before you use milk from your animal.”

Creamer points to lobbying money from the National Milk Producers Federation as the reason why the governor vetoed the bill. The group released a statement in support of Governor Tomblin's decision shortly after the veto was released. 

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.

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