Wednesday, May 14, 2014

DE legislator: commercial interests trumps the "guy in Harrington"

Jared's question was a simple one.  "Should Delaware be restricting the right to buy raw milk anyway in the first place?"  He raised the question on his show (The Jared Morris Show, May 09,  WXDE 105.9 Talk Radio) after HB 150, a bill that would legalize the sale of raw milk in Delaware through a herd sharing program, hit the news.

Every caller agreed that it is legal to sell more dangerous products like cigarettes, chicken, and raw seafood so if a farmer wants to sell raw milk, he should be allowed to sell it.

Well, every caller sided with the farmer until state representative John Atkins (D) called.  It's worth listening to his three-minute conversation with Jared.

(We'll pause here to get a beer while you listen to Representative Atkins.)

So what did you think?

Maybe we're old school, but we weren't impressed.  We have this silly idea that anyone who works for the government is a public servant, including our elected officials, and, as public servants, when a citizen asks (within reason), "Can I...," the public servant is supposed to say, "Sure, but this is what

Rep. John Atkins (D) on the importance of protecting commercial interests
over the interests of the guy in Harrington.
we'll need to get in place for you, first."

Instead, Rep. Atkins quickly pointed out that Delaware's dairy production is an eighteen-million-dollar-per-year industry and we wouldn't want "some guy in Harrington", who wants to sell a couple of gallons of milk, slapping "Delaware milk" labels on his product because if people get sick from his milk, Delaware's dairy industry would get a bad name or even collapse.

Besides, as Rep. Atkins pointed out, every state that has legalized sales of raw milk - there's about thirty states - people do get sick from it.  The possibility of tarnishing the commercial industry's image isn't a point to be taken lightly.  One only has to look at Arizona's cantaloupe industry, Rep. Atkins suggested, for an example of how fast an industry can collapse if people get sick.

Despite Rep. Atkins' well thought out response, we still side with the "guy in Harrington".  Unlike the eighteen-million-dollar-per-year commercial producers of milk, the "guy in Harrington" wants to sell a product the big commercial guys aren't selling so that he can make a few bucks and feed his family.  We'll protect the interests of the Mom and Pop industries any day over the big commercial guys.

Before we jump in the Harrington guy's corner, though, let's take a closer look at the "facts" as loosely described by Rep. Atkins vs the truth. 
  • All food borne illnesses account for 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths every yearCDC)
  • Pasteurized dairy products from 1998 - 2013 caused 30 outbreaks resulting in 2,832 illnesses and 9 deaths during the fifteen year period. (Real Raw Milk Facts)
  • Raw dairy products from 1998 - 2013 caused 136 outbreaks resulting in 2,468 illnesses and 2 deaths during the same fifteen year period.  (Real Raw Milk Facts)
  • Tainted cantaloupe in AZ came from Colorado and made AZ residents sick.  Cantaloupe produced in AZ did not cause any illnesses.  The 2013 cantaloupe production in AZ accounts for 20% of the melon market, second only to CA, which has 70% of the melon market cornered.  These ratios have been unchanged since at least 1998 and show the cantaloupe industry in AZ did not collapse after some people got sick in 2011 from cantaloupe grown in another state.
We suspect seafood, chicken, and hot dogs make up a good portion of food related deaths and hospitalizations because milk obviously is not the culprit.

Comparing the facts in front of us with the "facts" as described by Rep. Atkins, it appears Rep. Atkins has given up his role as public servant in favor of following the big bucks.  To use Rep. Atkins' own words, the financial interests of the commercial industry outweighs the interests of one guy in Harrington. 

The  eighteen-million-dollar-per-year folks are nice friends to have and if they are upset (or, to be politically correct, concerned) with the "guy in Harrington", then it's best to make up facts and use scare tactics to convince the "guy in Harrington" he needs to find another product to sell.

If you want the "guy in Harrington" (and other dairy farmers) to be able to sell raw milk, let your state representatives and senators know you support HB 150

Not sure who your elected officials are?  Not a problem.  They make it easy for you to find out with a clickable map.
Trust us five drunk rednecks - your elected officials want to hear from you so give them an earful.

Update (30 Aug 2017)
2014 was the last year for Adkins as a Delaware legislator.  He was defeated by Richard G. Collins (R) in the general election six months later.  A year after this article was written, Adkins was arrested.  Today, acccording to Wikipedia, Adkins is owner of Blue Hen Disposal, which is where we believe his political career ended up as unsalvageable.

Being a local small businessman himself, one has to wonder why he took such a strong stand against a fellow local small businessman.  Of course the point is moot, now.  The bill suffered the same fate as Adkins' political career and was unanimously defeated that year.

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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