Share Agreements: Cowshares, Goatshares, Herdshares, Farmshares

Herd-ShareAgreements-600x626In states where dairy regulations forbid consumers their constitutional right to purchase raw milk in stores or directly from farmers, consumers are entering into share agreements with the farmer.

In a cowshare, goatshare, or herdshare agreement, consumers pay a farmer a fee for boarding their cow or goat, (or share of a cow or goat), caring for the cow or goat, and milking the cow or goat. The herdshare owner then obtains (but does not purchase) the milk from his own cow or goat. This arrangement is similar to arrangements of owning a share in a racehorse or a bull.

Some states, such as Wisconsin, actually forbid herdshare agreements (which represents a further abridgement of our constitutional rights.) In these states, consumers and farmers have set up corporations in which consumers hold non-voting shares. This permits the consumer to obtain raw milk and other products from the farm in which he shares ownership (a farmshare). It is more difficult and more expensive to set up a farmshare program than a herdshare program, but this arrangement has the advantage of providing the farmer with more protection.

For information on setting up a herdshare or farmshare agreement, contact the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund at info@farmtoconsumer.org . Fund members have access to generic herdshare agreements and legal advice.

Farmers setting up herdshares may also be interested in this freeware application that can help you keep deliveries straight among various groups picking up on different days.

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5 thoughts on “Share Agreements: Cowshares, Goatshares, Herdshares, Farmshares

  1. Question: Do I need to become a member of some organization to start a herd-share program? If so, what are my options in Virginia? Is there a telephone number I can use to talk to a knowledgeable person about how to “legally” supply this fine product to my neighbors, without danger of paying big fines?
    Thanks in advance,
    Glen Bontrager

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