US Summary: As shown in the map from Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund below (go to farmtoconsumer.org/raw_milk_map.htm to see an interactive version and get an emailable PDF):
- Retail sales are legal in 10 states
- On-farm sales are legal in 15 states
- Herdshares are legal in 4 states
- There is no law on herdshares in 6 states
- Pet food sales are legal in 4 states (implying that human consumption is feasible)
Thus, it is possible to purchase raw milk or obtain it from your own animal/herd (herdshares) in 39 out of 50 states. Our goal: Raw milk available to consumers in all 50 states and throughout the world! Write to your government leaders and let your voice be heard. You can find your state representative’s contact information here: house.gov/writerep/. You can also send an email to the president, both of your senators, and your representative in one go here: congress.org/news/ (click “Write all your Federal officials” in the box near the top on the right).
We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the following list. If you have corrections or additions, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also our state-by-state Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes for the actual wording of the laws/codes in each state, and see our Real Milk Finder for a listing of dairies by state.
Raw milk sales for human consumption are illegal. Raw milk sales for animal consumption are legal if the farmer has obtained a commercial feed license. There are currently no raw milk producers in the state with a commercial feed license.
Alaska has banned the sale of raw milk for human consumption. The ban does “not apply to a person who owns a cow, goat or sheep and uses the milk from the animal for that person’s personal use. “With this exception, not limited to farmers or those who live on farms, cowshare programs and any kind of boarding agreement are legal. Raw milk sales for animal consumption are legal.
- Update, Spring 2008: State Representative Mark Neuman (R-Wasilla) has introduced House Bill 367, a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk and raw milk products in Alaska. The bill was prompted by the shutdown of a state-run milk plant in Alaska’s southeastern region last fall. The region’s four licensed Grade A dairies that were selling to the plant had no other place to sell their milk after the shutdown and have been dumping well over half of their daily milk production ever since. If HB 367 passes as it was originally written, Alaska would be the first state to permit the sale of raw milk in restaurants. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the state agency in charge of regulating milk and milk products, opposes the bill. Shortly after the introduction of the bill, DEC threatened to shut down the state’s largest cowshare dairy which also happens to be a Grade A licensee. Current law permits the distribution of raw milk through cowshare programs.
Arizona permits the sale of raw milk and raw milk products as long as they carry the required warning label. Their sale can take place on the farm and in grocery stores. Farmers selling raw milk and cream must obtain a producer-distributor license. Selling other raw dairy products requires obtaining a producer-manufacturer license in addition. There must be state approved bottling equipment on the farm. There are currently two licensed farms selling raw milk and raw milk products in the state.
- Update, Spring 07: Arizona is one of eight states where consumers can purchase raw milk in stores and at distribution points, and raw milk is now widely available in the state. However, the United Dairymen of Arizona had legislation introduced—SB 1367—that would have restricted the sale of raw milk to the farm. Fortunately, the bill was defeated. We’ll keep a close watch to see whether the bill is reintroduced next year.
- Update, April 22, 2006: Crème de la Moo is again state permitted and certified organic with new organic dairy, Save Your Dairy LLC. Retail sales began at the Farm Shoppe 20 December 2005 and to select retail stores 20 March 2006 on finding an affordable state-approved refrigerated van.
- Update, April 17, 2006: On the 15th of December 2005 Creme de la Moo was state permitted and certified organic to bottle raw milk with new organic dairy, Save Your Dairy LLC. A single impassioned investor made the new dairy possible. Creme de la Moo owners have worked tirelessly to make it happen and exceed all state and organic requirements. Arizona once again has organic raw milk.
- Update, Spring 2006: Good news in Arizona! Raw milk is now available from Creme de la Moo in Queen Valley. The dairy has passed state scrutiny and is permitted to sell the organic, non-pasteurized product. The milk is available at the farm’s store in Queen Creek, through the internet and at several private distribution sites in the Valley (check with a local chapter for details). Sales are strong, even at the price of $8 per gallon. Another dairy, Meadowayne of Colorado, Arizona, was selling raw milk in stores but began pasteurizing when health inspectors found a trace of Salmonella bacteria in the milk. No one was reported sick from the milk but the dairy gave up after considerable harassment and pressure. Creme de la Moo is keeping a low profile for the moment, by not selling in retail stores.
- Update, Spring 2005: In March, raw milk became available in Tucson stores, thanks to the efforts of Judi Dawn and her company Creme de la Moo. Judi had worked out a contract with a local dairy to bottle raw milk and process raw milk products. However, no sooner had her products appeared in stores than the United Dairy folks of Arizona met in secret and then reneged on her contract with the dairy, in violation of previous agreements. Judi is looking into a cowshare/boarding agreement with the dairy to get her back in business again.
- Update, Winter 2004: The state has tried to shut down mini-farmer Shelby Brawley’s cowshare program without success. Shelby argues that she has a contractual obligation to the owners of Buttercup, a cow she boards and milks. Raw milk sales are legal in Arizona but the permit process is long and expensive. A larger dairy, Creme de la Moo, is gearing up for commercial raw milk distribution in Phoenix and Tucson. Demand in the state is huge, according to Judi Dawn, co-owner of Creme de la Moo, spurred on by writers like Jordan Rubin and Aadjonus Vonderplanitz. She says she’s had inquiries about providing raw milk and raw milk products from “close to 500 households across the state and beyond. I average two to three contacts a day.”
Arkansas permits the sale of up to 500 gallons of raw cow or goat milk per month directly to consumers on the farm where the milk is produced. Farmers must post a sign at the farm and their products must display a label noting that the milk is not pasteurized. Farms and cows are not state inspected and buyers assume all liability for any health problems that may arise from drinking raw milk.
- Update, Summer 2013: Legislation allowing the sale of unpasteurized cow’s milk was signed into law. The new law allows monthly sales of up to 500 gallons of raw milk (cow or goat–previously raw goat milk was allowed to be sold on farm, but only 100 gallons per month). See Arkansas Raw Milk Bill Signed Into Law.
- Update, Spring 2013: House Bill 1536 would allow farmers to sell an “average monthly number” of up to five hundred gallons of raw milk directly to consumers at the farm where the milk is produced. Current law allows sales of an “average monthly number” of no more than one hundred gallons per month of raw goat milk only. HB 1536 gives the State Board of Health the power to make rules on random inspection of farms where raw milk is produced, label warnings that the milk has not been pasteurized, and signs at the producer’s farm warning the same. HB 1536 provides that “the board shall not adopt a rule regarding whole milk that has not been pasteurized that is more stringent than rules adopted for other milk products sold in Arkansas.”
- Update, Spring 2009: Arkansas currently allows farmers to sell up to one hundred gallons of goat milk per month at the farm. HB 1114 would allow the sale of up to one hundred gallons of raw cow milk per month as well. The tradeoff would be that the bill empowers the state board of health to make rules providing for the random inspection of farms producing and selling raw milk and to issue regulations requiring the seller to have a warning sign at the point of sale and warning labels on the bottles. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor.
Sales of raw milk and raw milk products are legal both in stores and on the farm. In order for raw milk to be sold legally, it must be ‘market milk. ‘This is milk that meets the standards provided in the Milk and Milk Products Act of 1947.
Under the Act, market milk is graded and designated into three classes:’certified milk,’ ‘guaranteed milk,’ and ‘Grade A milk. ‘Of the three classes, only Grade A raw milk is available for sale today in California. The standards for guaranteed raw milk to be market milk are more stringent than those for Grade A raw milk. While the Milk and Milk Products Act calls for county milk commissions to set the standards for certified raw milk, not a single county milk commission still exists.
Raw milk dairy farmers need market milk permits in order to produce their product. In addition, any person engaged in an aspect of the milk business that falls under the statutory definition of milk products plant must obtain a milk products plant license. There is an exemption from the license requirement, however, for “any producer whose business consists exclusively of producing and distributing raw market milk produced by such producer.”
Raw milk and most raw milk products require warning labels. Municipalities and counties in the state have the power to establish compulsory pasteurization laws but only Humboldt County has done so.
- Update, Summer 2012: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Spring 2012: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Winter 2011: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Fall 2011: Rawesome Raid 2011
- Update, Fall 2011: Evergreen Acres Goat Farm
- Update, Fall 2011: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Spring 2011: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Fall 2010: Rawesome Raid 2010
- Update, Summer 2009: Sharon Palmer Case
- Update, Spring 2009: Organic Pastures Criminal Case
- Update, Spring 2009: Sharon Palmer Case
- Update, Winter 2008: SB201 and the Coliform Standard
- Update, Winter 2008: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Fall 2008: SB201 and the Coliform Standard
- Update, Summer 2008: California AB1735 Coliform Standard
- Update, Summer 2008: Organic Pastures Dairy Company Federal Grand Jury Investigation
- Update, Spring 2008: California AB1735 Coliform Standard
- Update, April 15, 2008: Fallon-Morell Testimony on AB 1735 in California
- Update, Winter 2007: Update on the Raw Milk Situation in California
- Update, Summer 2007: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Spring 2007: CBS Evening News featured Organic Pastures Dairy in a February 20 segment on probiotics. The piece contained extremely positive reporting
on the benefits of raw milk, and no detractors.
- Action Alert, March 31, 2007: Support for Claravale Farm
- Update, Jan. 24, 2007: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Oct. 23, 2006: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Aug. 24, 2005: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Spring 2005: Organic Pastures now has a new distributor which is putting their raw milk in 500 stores up from 225. Demand is so great that they are selling all of their milk from about 330 cows, which graze on pasture and are even milked in the pasture via a portable milking parlor.
- Update, Nov. 18, 2004: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Fall 2003: Breakthrough in California
- Update, May 10, 2003: Organic Pastures Update
- Update, Spring 2003: Raw milk can legally be sold in stores in California and two fine dairies are making it available—Claravale Dairy in Watsonville, and Organic Pastures Dairy Company near Fresno, CA. Recently the state asked Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, to “voluntarily” shut down operations because listeria was found in a test. Mark tests his milk daily and posts the results on his website—he has found no pathogens and has received no complaints. Mark said, firmly and politely, “No way, José.”
- Update, Spring 2002: Things are looking very bright in California with the recent vote by the Los Angeles City Council to liberalize raw milk regulations for the County of Los Angeles, a move that allows the sale of raw milk in California once again and greatly expands the market for any raw milk producer in the state. As we predicted, new producers are coming along. Joining our beloved Claravale Dairy with raw milk sales is Organic Pastures of Kerman, California.
- Update, Summer 2001–Victory in LA: On March 20, 2001, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to bring Los Angeles County raw milk regulations into conformity with those of the rest of the State of California. This brings to an end a set of regulations so strict that health officials have been able to prevent the sale of raw milk in Los Angeles. During testimony, Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky questioned Department of Health Services’ officials: “Why don’t we have raw milk in this county? What happened since 1991 to cause us to lose it? Did we do something wrong?” The health official was not well informed and stammered without directly answering the questions. Health Department concerns about bacteria were thoroughly refuted by Attorney Raymond Novell. The victory vote was followed by cheers and hugs all around. Raw milk is now available in health foods stores throughout Los Angeles County. Thanks to Aajonus von der Planitz of The Right to Choose Healthy Food and Bari Caine of the Santa Monica Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation for their tireless efforts to alert the public and inform the county supervisors about our right to purchase and consume raw milk.
The state’s Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Fluid Milk Products Regulations prohibit the sale of raw milk. The regulatory definition of sale does not include cowshare programs. The Board of Health, the rule making body for the Department of Public Health and Environment, voted against a proposed regulation that would have extended the definition of sale to “the sale of undivided shares or interests in a cow or dairy herd.”
In 2005 the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation codifying the exemption of cowshare programs from the definition of sale. Consumers can now acquire raw milk legally in the state if the following conditions are met:
- “The milk is obtained pursuant to a cow share or goat share. The cow or goat share is an undivided interest in a cow, goat or herd of cows or goats” formed by a written contract between a consumer and a farmer that includes a legal bill of sale and a boarding contract.
- The owner of the cow or goat share shall receive raw milk direct from the farm where the cow, goat or dairy herd is located and the farm is registered. The farmer complies with the state requirements for registration when he provides the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment with a written statement containing:
a. The name of the farmer, farm or dairy,
b. A valid, current address of the farmer, farm or dairy; and
c. A statement that raw milk is being produced at the farm or dairy.
- The milk containers the farmer provides to the consumer must have a label with the warning statement that the milk is not pasteurized
- The farmer must provide the consumer with information regarding”
a. Standards the farmer maintains with respect to herd health.
b. Standards the farmer maintains in the production of milk from the herd
c. Results of testing done on cows or goats that produce the milk.
d. Results of testing done on the milk.
e. An explanation of the tests and test results.
The state prohibits the redistribution of any raw milk cow- or goatshare owners obtain.
Farmers running cowshare programs can only distribute unpasteurized “fluid milk products” legally. Under state regulatory definitions, this would include milk, cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese. This would not include butter and cheese. State regulations define butter and cheese as manufactured milk and dairy products. The state code prohibits any cowshare programs involving manufactured milk and dairy products.
Raw milk sales for animal consumption are legal if the farmer treats the milk with a dye approved by the Department of Public Health and Environment prior to sale.
Details: Guidestone Farm was given clearance to operate a cowshare program by the Colorado health department in 1994. For eight years, they have operated quietly, without any problems, providing raw milk to more than 150 families. Now other farmers are becoming interested in doing cowshare programs—more and more people want access to raw milk—so naturally the state is trying to shut the program down. In a letter dated February 27, 2003, Dan Trimberger of the Consumer Protection Division announced proposed regulatory changes that would make cowshare programs illegal.State officials recently met with consumers to discuss the proposed changes—and were unprepared for the quality of the testimony they heard. Consumers argued for their right to freedom of choice, health professionals delineated the health benefits of raw milk, and two lawyers—one for Guidestone and one for the Colorado Farmers’ Union—pointed out that legislation against cowshare programs would be unconstitutional. Officials left the meeting with their tails between their legs, stating that the current law would stand until further deliberations.
- Update, Aug. 24, 2005: Raw milk lovers are celebrating the passage of a bill to legitimize cowshare programs in the state, signed into law by the governor on April 22. Says James Dean, the lawyer who guided this bill through many hurdles: “What a marvelous effort this was on the part of hundreds of people. It literally took the organized effort of hundreds. Without each of them, we might not have made it. . . . I often think that people do not realize the degree of effort it takes to turn government around. People often do not recognize the various ties to different interest groups which must be built and the compromises that must be reached for this kind of effort to be successful.”
- Update, Spring 2005: Raw milk lovers are celebrating the passage of a bill to legitimize cowshare programs in the state, signed into law by the governor on April 22. Says James Dean, the lawyer who guided this bill through many hurdles: “What a marvelous effort this was on the part of hundreds of people. It literally took the organized effort of hundreds. Without each of them, we might not have made it. . . . I often think that people do not realize the degree of effort it takes to turn government around. People often do not recognize the various ties to different interest groups which must be built and the compromises that must be reached for this kind of effort to be successful.”
- Update, Winter 2004: Activists are moving forward with a bill to make raw milk available in Colorado when specific conditions are met, including a written consent, contract or ownership interest in a cow, goat or herd, creation of herd maintenance and production standards, disclosures about raw milk and its production, and registration of raw milk producers. These efforts are ably spearheaded by several local chapter leaders and James Dean of the law firm Dean and Stern in Denver.
- Update, Summer 2004: Victory in Colorado
- Update, May 2004: Colorado Cowshare Program in Jeopardy–Guidestone Farm in Loveland, Colorado, instituted the first US cowshare program and for many years it has operated peacefully and without incident with the full approval of Colorado Board of Health (BOH). The program has become so popular that Guidestone now has a long waiting list, in spite of doubling production (they now serve 450 families), and other farmers are initiating similar programs. In response, the BOH has suggested regulatory changes forbidding other cowshare programs and grandfathering the Guidestone program—that is, allowing Guidestone to continue until they voluntarily stop the program or move, a likely event since Guidestone operates on leased land. David Lynch, owner of Guidestone, refused to agree to the grandfathering provision—which would have effectively bought him off. The proposed regulations thus would forbid all cowshare programs and threaten to shut down Guidestone. The showdown will be a public hearing scheduled for May 19th. Letter-writing campaigns are underway (the letter from Mark McAfee, above, is one of hundreds written in support of raw milk) and Guidestone’s efforts are supported by the expert legal help of attorney Jim Dean. Three hundred people are expected to be there in support of raw milk at the largest public health hearing in the history of the state. Jim is giving many hours pro bono and Guidestone is depending on donations to defray legal expenses. If you can help, please send your donation to WAPF marked Colorado Raw Milk Campaign and we will pass 100 percent of your donation on to our friends in Colorado.
- Update, Spring 2003: Guidestone Farm was given clearance to operate a cowshare program by the Colorado health department in 1994. For eight years, they have operated quietly, without any problems, providing raw milk to more than 150 families. Now other farmers are becoming interested in doing cowshare programs—more and more people want access to raw milk—so naturally the state is trying to shut the program down. In a letter dated February 27, Dan Trimberger of the Consumer Protection Division announced proposed regulatory changes that would make cowshare programs illegal. State officials recently met with consumers to discuss the proposed changes—and were unprepared for the quality of the testimony they heard. Consumers argued for their right to freedom of choice, health professionals delineated the health benefits of raw milk, and two lawyers—one for Guidestone and one for the Colorado Farmers’ Union—pointed out that legislation against cowshare programs would be unconstitutional. Officials left the meeting with their tails between their legs, stating that the current law would stand until further deliberations.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm and in retail stores. In order to operate legally farmers must obtain producer permits and raw milk retailer permits from the State Agriculture Commissioner. Additionally, they must obtain a milk dealer license from the public health board of the town or city where their farms are located.
The state Milk Regulation Board has issued a regulation on the quality standards for retail raw milk. The state does not charge any fees for the testing required to ensure the quality of the milk. Notwithstanding the quality standard regulation, towns and cities have the power to ban the sale of retail raw milk. At the present time, only two towns have done so.
Details: Raw milk drinkers got a scare when a bill was introduced in the Environment Committee that would have outlawed not only the sale of raw milk, but would also have banned giving it away. The bill’s sponsors argued that the bill was needed because “if anyone got sick drinking raw milk, it would give all milk sold in the State of Connecticut a bad name,” rather incredible logic since no one in the state has ever gotten sick because of raw milk. Dairy farmer Deb Taylor rounded up her customers and met with committee members, explaining in friendly terms the importance of raw milk sales for her livelihood and for their health. Many committee members were sympathetic and the bill died in committee. This shows the importance of well-organized, nonconfrontational lobbying efforts in support of raw milk sales.
- Update, Summer 2009: HB6313, a bill that would have limited sales of raw milk to the farm only [see Spring 2009 update below], died in the Joint Committee on the Environment. Raw milk can currently be sold in retail stores; a number of licensed dairies in the State derive over half of their raw milk sales from retail store transactions. However, HB6312, a bill stipulating criminal penalties for the sale of “adulterated raw milk and raw milk products” was voted out of the Joint Committee on the Environment but currently is stalled in another committee. If this bill passes into law, cowshare programs would become illegal in the State unless the farmer has a retail raw milk license.
- Update, Spring 2009: In response to a foodborne illness outbreak occurring at Town Farm Dairy in Simsbury last summer (see Fall 2008 update below), the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CDA) had legislation introduced that would restrict the availability of raw milk. HB6313 would limit sales of raw milk to the farm only; it can currently be sold in retail stores. HB6313 originally included testing provisions that would have imposed a financial hardship for raw milk licensees; but those requirements have been withdrawn in an amended version of the bill. CDA has also had HB6312 introduced, ”which would provide criminal penalties for the sale or offering for sale of adulterated milk and milk products.” The bill contains a provision that would ban the operation of cowshare programs unless the farmer had a retail raw milk license. Both bills have been assigned to the Joint Committee on the Environment.
- Update, Fall 2008: On July 22, the Simsbury Town Farm Dairy voluntarily suspended its sales of raw milk and all other dairy products after four people who drank milk from the farm contracted E. coli O157:H7. The dairy is a non-profit business run by the group Friends of Town Farm Dairy on land leased from the town. According to its website (www.townfarmdairy.org), “The Friends of Town Farm Dairy Inc. began as a group of concerned citizens working toward preserving the operation of the Town Farm Dairy on land which was originally deeded to the Town of Simsbury as a poor farm . . . .” Among the organization’s goals are promoting local food sources, providing for the poor, involving local school children in-farm-related activities and providing workshops in dairying, organic farming and cheesemaking. The dairy has an on-farm store selling pasteurized and unpasteurized dairy products to its customers until it suspended sales. The investigation by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CDA) into the dairy found no E. coli in any of the milk samples taken; but after conducting numerous tests of the farm’s cows, property and equipment, the agency found E. coli in the feces of one of the cows. As far as is known, the agency did not check to see if the subtype of E. coli found in the cow’s feces was the same as that found in the stool samples of those who became sick. In a letter written to the farm, CDA did not identify the cow as the “the most likely cause” definite source of the E. coli O157:H7 contamination, but rather as “the most likely cause.” The agency still was not sure how the bacteria got into the milk. The CDA has told the dairy it can resume selling raw milk when it has met conditions set by the agency. In the meantime the dairy is selling milk to a pasteurization plant at about one-fourth the price it was getting for milk sold in its store. An official for the Town Farm Dairy indicated that the farm might not be able to survive financially unless the state quickly reinstated its raw milk sales. A couple of farmers the dairy had hired last year had left the farm at the beginning of July, leaving board members of Town Far0m Dairy and volunteers to milk the cows and run the day-to-day operation. (Sources: Hartford Courant 8/9/08, 7/23/08.
- Update, Spring 2002: Raw milk drinkers got a scare when a bill was introduced in the Environment Committee that would have outlawed not only the sale of raw milk, but would also have banned giving it away. The bill’s sponsors argued that the bill was needed because “if anyone got sick drinking raw milk, it would give all milk sold in the State of Connecticut a bad name,” rather incredible logic since no one in the state has ever gotten sick because of raw milk. Dairy farmer Deb Taylor rounded up her customers and met with committee members, explaining in friendly terms the importance of raw milk sales for her livelihood and for their health. Many committee members were sympathetic and the bill died in committee. This shows the importance of well-organized, nonconfrontational lobbying efforts in support of raw milk sales.
Raw milk sales are illegal. The state has adopted the 2001 version of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance in its entirety.
- Update, Spring 2006: Richard Swartzenterber, owner of a successful organic farm in Newark, Delaware, is working with a state senator and the Department of Agriculture to reinstate on-farm raw milk sales in Delaware. We’ll keep you posted on his progress.
Raw milk sales are illegal but raw milk is available through cowshare programs in nearby Virginia.
Raw milk sales for human consumption are illegal. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services interprets the definition of “sell” in the state administrative code to extend the ban on raw milk sales to any cowshare agreements as well.
Department of Agriculture policy permits the sale of raw milk for animal consumption even though there is no state law that covers this issue. The state permits raw milk sales for animal consumption either on the farm or in retail stores. Containers should have a label clearly stating that the raw milk is for animal consumption only.
- Update, Spring 2006: Thank you, thank you all for the letters you wrote in defense of Full Circle Farm’s right to sell products labeled as pet food. (See this amazing testimonial to Governor Jeb Bush.) Farm owner Dennis Stoltzfoos must pay a $900 fine after inspectors visited his farm, but was given the go-ahead to sell anything he wants as pet food as long as he doesn’t advertise. Meanwhile, Florida activists are working with the Department of Agriculture to make an administrative change to the regulations to allow cow share programs or on-farm sales of people food.
- Action Alert, Oct. 10, 2005: Full Circle Farm in Florida needs your help ending state harassment (On westonaprice.org)
- Update, Spring 2004: Growing interest in cowshare programs and several sympathetic health inspectors have resulted in efforts to amend the Florida regulations to allow on-farm sales of raw milk. However, an initial meeting with government officials was abruptly cancelled. The efforts are spearheaded by Sarah Pope, our Tampa chapter leader, who will continue her efforts to begin a dialog on allowing the residents of Florida to purchase raw milk at the farm. Meanwhile, raw milk is available in Florida through several cowshare programs.
The state has banned the sale of raw milk for human consumption through its interpretation of the Georgia Dairy Act of 1980 and also through its adoption of the 2003 version of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
The sale of raw milk for animal consumption is legal if the distributor is licensed under the commercial feed laws. The Department of Agriculture currently has several distributors of raw goat milk for pet food under license.
- Update, Winter 2007: The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) followed North Carolina’s lead and proposed a rule amendment to the Georgia Feed Laws to require the addition of food coloring to raw milk for animal consumption “which will render the milk charcoal gray in color” (the sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal in the state). Opponents of the rule forced a public hearing on the proposed change by sending far more than the required of 25 letters (under the Georgia Administrative Procedures Act) to GDA asking for an oral hearing. The agency was surprised by the opposition to the rule. One GDA employee commented that an agency generally receives only 5-10 comments on any rule change. On the proposed rule requiring the dye, comments in opposition ran into the hundreds. The committee voted to nix the proposal—an important victory. Thanks to WAPF chapter leaders Alison Tyler and Lynn Razaitis, along with Alice Rolls, director of Georgia Organics, for spearheading this success.
- Update, Winter 2004: Sheila Simpson, who owns a small five-goat dairy outside of Atlanta has managed to obtain a license for raw pet milk. According to Lynn Razaitas, chapter leader in Atlanta, “She basically figured out the whole process on her own and called us after she’d filed all the paperwork to help her find customers.” Adds Razaitas, “Georgia is a blankety-blank mess of stupid rigid dairy laws and ignorant ag inspectors. This is truly a cutting edge move for us!”
Raw milk sales are illegal.
- Update, Spring 2013: Under Senate Bill 364 and the companion House Bill 99, “retailers, distributors, producers and producer-distributors may sell raw milk, including cheese, kefir and yogurt produced from raw milk and raw-milk products for purchase or consumption by consumers, subject to rules adopted by the board of agriculture for the department of agriculture.” Farmers may sell raw milk and raw milk products on a farm directly to consumers, subject to rules. Board has to adopt rules by July 1, 2014. Rules shall include standards for production and sale of raw milk, regulation of cow- and animal-sharing and labeling requirements. The bills were referred to their respective committees on January 22.
Even though state law permits the sale of raw milk if the farmer obtains a retail raw milk license, in practice the Idaho Dept. of Agriculture refuses to license anyone to sell raw milk.
There has not been a retail raw milk licensee in the state for the past 15 years. According to the state Department of Agriculture, the biggest reason no one has sold retail raw milk during that time is the requirement that ‘bottling and packaging of retail raw milk and retail raw milk products shall be done on the premises where produced in approved mechanical equipment. ‘Several small farmers have contacted the state about obtaining a raw milk license but the cost of constructing a milk plant has discouraged them from doing so.
- Update, Fall 2011: A small dairy producer in Idaho sent the following updated link for ID regulations. She reports that she has a small herd license, can sell raw milk, and that it was very easy to get certified as long as she complied with the rules: agri.state.id.us/Categories/Animals/Dairy/dairyRawMilk.php
- Update, Fall 2010: House Bill 675 was signed into law on April 11. The new law requires any dairy farmer operating herdshare programs to obtain a permit if that farmer has more than seven cows, fifteen sheep or fifteen goats in the herd. Under the new law, the owner of a share may obtain raw milk and raw milk products if there is a written contract between the owner and the farmer that provides written evidence of a bona fide ownership in the herd; the contract must also include the boarding terms for the herd, a provision that the owner is entitled to receive a share of the milk or milk products from the herd, and a notification that the milk or milk products are raw and not pasteurized. Any dairy farm operating a shareholder program with more than three cows, seven sheep or seven goats must comply with milk testing requirements specified in the law. All shareholder dairies must register with the state and must test their animals each year for tuberculosis and brucellosis. Under prior law, herdshare programs were not regulated; the law on the sale of raw milk has not changed. Those producers obtaining a retail raw milk permit can still sell raw milk on the farm and in retail stores.
- Update, Fall 2009: The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) has begun the process of updating its rules on the retail sale of raw milk, holding an initial meeting August 10 in Boise to discuss proposed changes to the regulations. Currently, there are two dairies in the state licensed to sell raw milk. The proposed regulations would cover cowshare programs. The proposed regulation governing inspection of raw milk producers states: “COW SHARE type programs are legal provided the RAW MILK and the RAW MILK PRODUCTS are produced and processed in facilities with RAW MILK and RAW MILK PLANT permits.” Cowshare programs would be exempt from the ‘sanitary construction and operation’ standards (e.g., mechanical bottling) provided the following conditions are met: (a.) The RAW MILK quality complies with the testing frequency and quality standards established by these rules. (b.) The number of animals in lactation does not exceed 3 cows or 7 goats or sheep. (c.) The COW SHARE owners are registered with the DEPARTMENT. The registration shall indicate where the COW SHARE herd is physically located and the mailing address of the PERSON in charge of the care of the herd and a copy of a written contractual arrangement including a legal bill of sale of the consumer(s) that have ownership in the animals producing RAW MILK for human consumption. (d.) Milk quality tests shall be provided to all COW SHARE participants. (e.) COW SHARE consumers shall not resell RAW MILK for human consumption obtained under a COW SHARE program.” One positive aspect of the proposed revisions to the regulation is that the sale of all raw dairy products by licensees would become legal. Under current law, licensees can sell only raw milk and cream. According to an article by Carol Ryan Dumas for Capital Press, ISDA hopes to have final regulations published before November 13 which would enable them to be reviewed by the legislature in 2010.
- Update, Summer 2006: Steve Campbell and Peter Dill are working with Marv Patton, the Idaho state agricultural representative to come up with rules, regulations and testing protocols for micro-dairy on-farm sales of raw milk. Steve can be contacted at email@example.com.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm if the farmer complies with the following conditions:
- No advertising the sale of raw milk.
- Customers must bring their own individual containers. If the farmer uses his own container to bottle the milk, he is operating a “milk plant” according to the Department of Health Regulations, and the milk must be pasteurized. The farmer can only collect the milk in the customer’s container. The farmer cannot process the milk in any way. Sales of raw cream and raw butter are illegal.
- The farmer must produce the milk “in accordance with the Department (of Public Health) rules and regulations. “The Department does not apply these rules and regulations, including the permit requirement, to farmers with just a few cows who sell raw milk only on the farm.
- Update, Summer 2013: Proposed Raw Milk Regulations in Illinois and South Dakota
- Update, Nov. 18, 2004: An employee in the Illinois Department of Health told me of two additional conditions farms selling raw milk must comply with: 1. No advertising the sale of raw milk. 2. Customers must bring their own individual containers. 3.The customer MUST put the milk from your container into their container. You can NOT sell or give away the milk in the containers you store it in because then you would be considered a bottling facility and subject to state regulations. The state official also said that if the farmer has just a few cows and sells raw milk only on the farm not to pasteurization plants, not subject to inspection, etc., it is not necessary to comply with state regulations on the production of milk.
- Update, Fall 2003: Several buyers clubs in the Chicago area now receive deliveries of raw milk products through a cowshare program. For information contact Richard Hebron of Family Farms Cooperative, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raw milk sales for human consumption are illegal. Cowshare programs exist in the state and are legal. Cowshares do not constitute a “sale” under the statutory definition of the word.
Raw milk sales for animal consumption are legal on the farm and in stores if the farmer has obtained a commercial feed license from the state.
Details: A group of farmers and consumers is working on the liberalization of raw milk sales in Indiana and several active cowshare programs are underway, with state approval. If you would like to help, contact Steve Bonney at email@example.com or (765) 426-0420.
- Update, Spring 2013: Senate Bill 610 would have codified the right of individuals to obtain raw milk from dairy animals owned by them and to distribute that milk to members of individuals’ families or to non-paying guests. The bill died in the Committee on Health Provider Services. Senate Bill 513 would have allowed on-farm sales of raw cow’s milk and products made from raw cow’s milk by licensed dairies direct to consumers; the dairy would need to comply with sanitation, sampling and testing standards, and labeling requirements set out in rule by the Indiana Board of Animal Health. The state chemist was to adopt similar rules for testing and sampling requirements when raw milk is used for commercial feed or pet milk. The bill died in the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Update, Feb. 4, 2012: Walkerton Dairy Herd Association
- Action Alert, Jan. 31, 2012: Indiana Raw Milk Bill (SB 398)
- Update, August 2007: Richard Hebron, Family Farms’ Cooperative
- Update, Summer 2007: Richard Hebron, Family Farms’ Cooperative
- Update, Spring 2007: In what may turn out to be the most important test case yet for the raw milk movement, the United States Food and Drug Administration has recently sent a “Warning Letter” to Indiana farmer David Hochstetler of Forest Grove Dairy, informing him that the agency has determined David distributed unpasteurized milk and cream for human consumption in interstate commerce, violating the regulation codified in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations, section 1240.61(a) [21 CFR 1240.61]. David has entered into herd lease agreements with consumer cooperatives in Michigan and Illinois under the terms of which he provides raw dairy products to the cooperatives’ members. David has indicated that he will contest FDA’s finding of a violation on the grounds that the lease agreements are private contracts not subject to the agency’s jurisdiction. Many consumers are currently able to obtain raw dairy products from out-of-state sources only. FDA enforcement action against David Hochstetler could make suppliers of raw dairy products more reluctant to ship interstate, effectively denying to many the freedom to consume foods of their choice. Conversely, an FDA decision not to enforce the regulation against David would make producers more willing to ship raw dairy products interstate and would increase their chances of being able to opt out of the dairy cooperative system and the poverty-level prices paid its members. 21 CFR 1240.61 is an oppressive regulation which makes no distinction between milk from confinement cows and milk from cows on pasture. It particularly penalizes farmers like David Hochstetler who have an exemplary track record for producing clean, safe milk. For many years David held a Grade A license from the state of Indiana; during that time, tests for bacteria in the milk he produced consistently showed levels well below the limit required for pasteurized milk under the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), the governing document for interstate shipments of milk to be sold at retail. Overturning the regulation in court would be costly and take years to accomplish. A more realistic goal would be to put enough public pressure on FDA so that they don’t enforce the regulation. We have sent out an Action Alert asking our members nationwide to contact FDA officials.
- Update, Winter 2006: In a related incident, on October 20, agents from the Indiana Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) visited the farm of an Amish dairy farmer and member of the Family Farms Coop in Middlebury, Indiana. Agents gained permission for an inspection of the dairy by threatening to return with a search warrant and the state police if refused. Agents returned on Monday, October 23 with an affidavit of the inspection and interview details for the farmer to sign, which he refused. Milk deliveries are continuing as before and no charges have been filed against the farmer.
- Update, Winter 2002–Victory in Indiana: Sales of raw milk except as pet food are illegal in the state of Indiana. However, growing numbers of Indiana residents have been obtaining raw milk through cowshare programs. The most successful has been that of Apple Family Farms, in which 47 families own shares in four dairy cows. Most employees of the state agriculture department have recognized that cowshare programs are a way to save family farms and have been supportive—all except one, State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh whose anti-consumer efforts produced a cease-and-desist order to the Apples in early November. Cowshare owners were incensed and bombarded their state officials with letters demanding their rights to consume the milk of the cows in which they held shares. At the same time, dairy operator Debbie Apple quietly insisted on their rights to sell shares—a real steel magnolia! Media reports consistently favored the cowshare program as a way to save small farms. The result was a retraction by the state. The Apples must make some semantic changes in their contract, and cow owners will be required to participate in twice-yearly meetings to discuss the care and feeding of their cows, but the cowshare will continue. This will open many doors in the state, where there is a huge demand for raw milk. Efforts are also underway to change the regulates to allow on-farm sales of raw milk.
Raw milk sales are illegal. There have been reports of violators being prosecuted.
- Update, Spring 2013: House Study Bill 131 (HSB 131) would allow unlicensed sales of raw milk and other raw dairy products to an individual either on the farm or through delivery. The bill has been referred to the Local Government Subcommittee which voted on February 27 to send it on to the full committee. In addition to HSB 131, a bill has been introduced in the Iowa Senate that would provide for a moratorium on regulations affecting the sale of unprocessed food, including raw milk. Senate File 77 calls for the moratorium to go into effect July 1, 2014. On or before January 1, 2014, several state agencies including the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are to prepare a report for the Iowa General Assembly that “shall provide a list of all statutes and rules affected by this Act along with proposals to most effectively amend or repeal those statutes and rules without affecting the administration and enforcement of other provisions.” SF77 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
- Update, July 29, 2012: Letter to an Iowa Legislator
- Action Alert, Feb. 10, 2012: Call to Support Raw Milk in Iowa
- Update, Spring 2011: A bill will be introduced shortly that will allow the sale of raw milk and raw milk products to individuals on the farm and through delivery by producers. Dairy farmers selling under the bill would be subject neither to licensing nor inspection. State law currently prohibits any sale of raw milk and raw milk products other than cheese aged sixty days or more.
- Update, Spring 2010: On January 25 Charles Freitag and Mindy Slippy, individuals who had purchased a cow from a Riverside dairy farmer and who had arranged to board their respective cow with the farmer, filed suit against Bill Northey, Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), to obtain a declaratory judgment. The plaintiffs are seeking four declarations from the court that they are entitled to: (1) own personal property in the form of a cow; (2) consume the unpasteurized milk and other unpasteurized dairy products from their own personal cow; (3) enter into a boarding contract with a farmer to have the farmer tend to, manage and take care of their personal cow for them; and (4) enter into a service contract to have the farmer convert some of the milk from their own cow into unpasteurized dairy products such as butter, kefir and yogurt. On February 2, 2009, IDALS sent a letter to the farmer taking care of the plaintiffs’ cows, informing him that he was “selling” raw milk to consumers in violation of Iowa law. The lawsuit claims that IDALS’s interpretation of the law prohibits plaintiffs from exercising “their Constitutional rights (1) own, possess and use their private property, (2) to privacy and to consume the foods of their choice for themselves and their families, (3) and to enter into boarding and service contracts with an Iowa farmer.” No hearing date has been set for the suit.
“On-farm retail sales” of raw milk and raw milk products are legal to the “final consumer.” The farmer can only advertise the sales of raw dairy with a sign posted on the farm. The sign must state that the milk or milk products are raw. Farmers must clearly label as “ungraded raw milk” each container of unpasteurized milk for sale.
Farmers whose business consists only of on-farm sales of raw milk do not need a license to operate. The Department of Agriculture considers farmers selling raw butter or cream to be running a “dairy manufacturing plant” and requires them to obtain a dairy manufacturing plant license.
The state does not inspect farmers selling raw milk and raw milk products on a routine basis like they inspect farmers selling Grade A raw milk for pasteurization. They only inspect raw milk and raw milk product sellers if there is a complaint.
- Update, Spring 2013: Senate Bill 146 would allow delivery of raw milk and raw milk products to the final consumer and would eliminate restrictions on advertising. Currently, sales are limited to on-farm and advertising is restricted to a sign on the farm. The bill is sponsored by the Committee on Agriculture and has been referred to the same.
Raw milk sales are illegal with one exception. An individual with a written recommendation from a physician may purchase raw goat milk. The goat milk producer must have a permit from the state Cabinet for Health Services and can only sell raw milk directly to individuals on the farm. Goat milk producers must keep the written recommendation statement on file for at least one year. In addition, “the producer shall keep on file records stating volume of unpasteurized goat milk sold and date of sales to each person having submitted a written recommendation statement.”
- Update, Spring 2012: SB47, a bill that would codify the right of individuals to enter into contracts for the shared ownership of livestock, passed the State Senate and was forwarded in February to the House Committee on Agriculture and Small Business. “The bill recognizes the right of individuals to purchase shared ownership in farm poultry or livestock, and enter into a contract prescribing the terms and conditions of the poultry or livestock production including the right to consume the products produced by the poultry or livestock.” No permit would be required for those entering into contracts for the shared ownership of livestock or poultry and the state would have no jurisdiction over the arrangement between the individual and farmer for the shared ownership of livestock.
- Update, Summer 2011: Whole Life Buying Club
- Update, Spring 2007: Kentuckians for Raw Milk, led by WAPF member Ray Kruse, is mounting a well-orchestrated campaign for passage of HB 298, which would legalize raw milk sales in Kentucky. Their efforts include press releases, public service announcements and contacts with legislators and government officials. Unfortunately, the bill has been sent to the Health and Welfare Committee for review, rather than to the Agriculture and Small Business Committee, where they have more support. Still, there are members of Health and Welfare who support the bill.
- Update, Winter 2006: Gary Oaks–who was so rudely treated by state and federal agents during a drop off in Ohio for his cowshare owners (see Kentucky and Ohio: Raw Milk Battleground from Summer 2006)–has moved to a new farm, where he expects less harassment from his hostile neighbor. He continues to operate his cowshare program, but only in the state of Kentucky. Meanwhile, raw milk supporters are cautiously optimistic about passage of legislation allowing on-farm sales of raw milk next year.
- Update, Winter 2006: Double O Farms, which provides milk through a cowshare program, has enjoyed outstanding support from its shareholders since a harassment incident against owner Gary Oakes last March, which occurred while he was delivering milk in Ohio. Shareholders have helped with milking, bottling, dispensing . . . and all the bills, to help the farm get back on track. (See the wonderful article by David E. Gumpert posted at www.businessweek.com/smallbiz.) Meanwhile, a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk in Kentucky has sponsors in both the House and the Senate, thanks to efforts by the Kentucky Campaign for Real Milk, headed by Ray Kruse. Hearings will take place in early 2007.
- Update, Fall 2006: There is a new website created by producers in Kentucky. Kentuckians for Real Raw Milk.
- Update, Summer 2006: The House Agriculture Committee narrowly defeated a bill to legalize raw milk sales. Advocates are not giving up and plan to re-introduce the bill next year.
- Update, July 26, 2006: Kentucky and Ohio: Raw Milk Battleground
- Update, Spring 2006: Farmers in Kentucky have initiated efforts to have a raw milk bill passed in the Kentucky legislature. They have support of the Kentucky Farm Bureau and well as lots of other farmers’ associations. The bill would not only legalize on-farm sales, but retail sales as well.
Raw milk sales are illegal. State law prohibits the Department of Public Health from “setting up standards lower than those as set forth in the U. S. Public Health Service Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and Code.” Likewise, parishes and municipalities cannot adopt local milk ordinances that conflict with the PMO.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm and in retail stores. Raw milk and raw milk products must have a label on the product containing the words “not pasteurized.” Farmers do not have to obtain permit to sell raw milk if their sales are only on the farm and they do not advertise.
Raw milk sales are illegal.
- Update, Spring 2013: House Bill 502 would amend the state livestock lien law to clarify that an agreement can be made between someone with a complete or partial ownership interest in a dairy animal and the owner of an establishment for the latter to milk that animal and provide the milk to the party with the ownership interest in the dairy animal. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Economic Matters. There is currently a regulation purporting to ban herdshares in Maryland.
- Update, Winter 2009: On October 13, attorneys for Buckeystown Dairy farmer Kevin Oyarzo filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Maryland Court of Appeals asking the court to review an adverse ruling by the State Court of Special Appeals. On August 26, that court had affirmed a lower court ruling that rejected Oyarzo’s challenge to the state regulatory ban on herd/cowshare arrangements [Kevin Oyarzo v. Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, et al. (See updates below for background on the case.) Despite ruling against Oyarzo, the Court of Special Appeals did acknowledge that cowshare and herdshare arrangments can be valid under the law, stating that “(a) it is not illegal in Maryland for the owner of a dairy cow to drink the raw milk which that cow produces; (b) it is not illegal in Maryland to sell a fractional interest in a herd of dairy cattle; and (c) it is not illegal in Maryland for an agister to provide agistment services by boarding and caring for dairy cows owned by others.” A major contention of Oyarzo in his petition to the Maryland high court is that, in effect, the Court of Special Appeals made these types of conduct illegal by upholding the regulation banning herdshares. The petition also claims that the Court of Special Appeals has improperly held that MDHMH can regulate any transaction involving the distribution of milk instead of only transactions concerning sales. Unfortunately, Court of Appeals decided not to hear the case. Pro-raw milk legislation will be needed to open Maryland up to raw milk.
- Update, Spring 2009: Two raw milk bills have been introduced this session. HB 1015 would allow for the sale of raw milk directly from the producer to the consumer if the parties have executed a written contract for its sale. The contract must clearly indicate that the milk being sold is unpasteurized and that “once the raw milk product is in the possession of the consumer, the proper handling, transporting and cooling of the milk are the responsibilities of the consumer.” The bill has extensive requirements for testing and sanitary standards and also mandates that warning labels be on the containers. Those producers selling raw milk would be required to register with both the Maryland Department of Health and Hygiene and the Maryland Department of Agriculture. A second bill, HB 1080, would exempt from regulation the distribution of raw milk and raw milk products from milk producers directly to the final consumer “if the consumer has acquired an ownership in the animal or herd from which the raw milk is produced.” The bill requires that the ownership interest be acquired pursuant to a written contract. Both bills are before the House Committee on Health and Government Operations.
- Update, Spring 2008: House Bill 147, a bill that would exempt from regulation the sale of raw milk and raw milk products from milk producers directly to the final consumer, was introduced. A similar bill was before the Legislature last year but did not make it out of committee. On another front, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland will be ruling this summer on a challenge by Buckeystown farmer Kevin Oyarzo to the state’s cowshare ban. Maryland is one of only four states whose law expressly bans cowshares. [For the background of the case see Update, Winter 2007 below.]
- Update, Winter 2007: On January 5, 2007, Buckeystown farmer Kevin Oyarzo filed suit against the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH) to overturn a new agency regulation that effectively bans cowshares in the state. Oyarzo asked the court to grant a motion for summary judgment, finding that the agency had exceeded its statutory authority when it issued the regulation expanding the definition of “sale” to include contractual arrangements like cowshares (state law prohibits the sale of raw milk). MDHMH responded by filing their own cross-motion asking the court to dismiss the farmer’s suit. On July 18, a hearing on the two motions took place at the Frederick County Circuit Court. On August 3, the Circuit Court Judge issued her opinion denying the farmer’s motion for summary judgment and granting the agency’s motion. Oyarzo’s lawyers have filed an appeal which should be heard sometime this winter.
- Update, Winter 2006: New regulations in Maryland define cowshare agreements as constituting a “sale” of raw milk, and therefore illegal–regulations adopted by the Department of Health without any hearing, in spite of numerous requests. But we have not given up. Maryland activists are planning to request a summary judgement against a change of regulations by an agency rather than the legislature, as required by Maryland law. Plans for legislation allowing on-farm sales of raw milk are also in the works.
- Update, Winter 2006: A Maryland farmer has filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Maryland against the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Division of Milk Control for injunctive relieve and a declaratory judgement, arguing that recent changes in the dairy regulations to prohibit cowshare programs exceeded the statutory authority of these agencies. The suit asks for a permanent injunction restraining and prohibiting the enforcement of the recently imposed sanction against cowshare programs.
- Update, Summer 2006: The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has proposed a change to the Maryland Administrative Code Section 10.15.06, which would define cowshare agreements as a sale and thereby prohibit them as a way for consumers to obtain raw milk in the state of Maryland. The state received almost 100 letters opposing these regulations, which contradict Title 16, Section 401 of Maryland law, which recognizes the right of an owner of dairy livestock to contract with another for the boarding and care of livestock. Those who wrote letters received a form letter from Ted Elkins, Deputy Director, Office of Food Protection and Consumer Health Services, filled with unsupported claims and inaccuracies regarding raw milk (Read the reply to Mr. Elkins here.) Our efforts are now focused on persuading a Maryland senator or representative to request a hearing on this important issue—it only takes one to request such a hearing. Should the state of Maryland be successful in outlawing cowshare programs through an administrative process, this would set a dangerous precedent in other states. We ask all our members to respond to the Action Alerts that we are sending out on this situation.
- Update, Fall 2003: Our Shanti Yoga friends at Spiritual Food in Bethesda, Maryland are working with attorney Edgar Aseby to present a bill to the state legislature that would allow the sale of raw milk in Maryland. A representative has already been contacted and has expressed willingness to submit it to the assembly. But in the meantime, the group is setting up a cowshare program in conjunction with a CSA on the Eastern Shore. The milk will be brought into Bethesda for pick up. If you are interested in helping them get started, or in purchasing a share, contact Victor and Lynette Landa at 301-654-4899.
- Update, Spring 2003: Spiritual Food for the New Millennium, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is spearheading an effort to set up a farmshare program based on the Wisconsin model. They are working with a biodynamic farmer in the Eastern Shore and with Edgar J. Asebey, a lawyer with experience in environmental and regulatory law. Tim Wightman will be helping them with technical advice. What’s needed is help with the financing. This is a key program and one that could really expand the Campaign for Real Milk. If you are interested in helping, contact Edgar at 240-354-6870 or E_asebey@earthlink.net .
For further listings and activism for raw milk in Massachusetts, please visit nofamass.org.
The state legislature has granted the power to city and town boards of health to determine whether raw milk sales are legal. If the local board of health makes raw milk sales legal, farmers must follow state regulations on the production and sale of raw milk, including the following:
- A five day maximum period for the sale of retail raw milk commencing from the time the farmer fills the container. Each container of retail raw milk must indicate the last date on which the container may be offered for sale.
- The farmer shall label the product “Raw cow’s milk” or “Raw goat’s milk” and the label shall include the name, address, and zip code of the producing farm.
- All retail containers of raw milk shall have the following warning on the label:”Raw milk is not pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys organisms that may be harmful to human health.”
- A sign must be posted in the area where the raw milk is sold, stating “Raw milk is not pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys organisms that may be harmful to human health.”
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm. The Department of Agricultural Resources regulates on-farm sales.
Like dairy farmers selling raw milk to pasteurization plants, farmers selling retail raw milk must obtain a vendor’s license from the milk inspector in the town nearest to their farm. Farmers who sell twenty quarts of milk a day or less are exempt from this requirement. All farmers selling raw milk need to obtain a certificate of registration from the Commissioner of Food and Agriculture, no matter how little milk they actually sell.
- Update, Spring 2013: House Bill 717 allows for the delivery of raw milk by a licensed farmer or the farmer’s agent directly to the consumer. Delivery can also be made through a CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery system. Delivery may be made directly to the consumer’s residence or to a pre-established receiving site; said sites shall not be in a retail setting with the exception of a CSA delivery as long as the milk delivered is not accessible to the general public. Under the bill, raw
milk can also be sold at farm stands that aren’t contiguous to the raw milk dairy which current law prohibits.
- Update, July 29, 2012: Raw Milk Debate at Harvard Law School
- Update, Spring 2012: Two raw milk bills were introduced last year; the legislature is in the second year of a two-year session. House bill 1995 would allow delivery of raw milk from licensed farmers, “off-site from the farm” directly to the consumer; under existing law all raw milk sales must be made on the farm. The bill passed out of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and was referred in February to the House Committee on Ways and Means. House Bill 3273 would codify the right of any person with a partial or complete ownership interest in a dairy animal to use any product derived from that animal without being licensed or inspected by the state. The bill was assigned to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and a public hearing was held last June along with other bills.
- Update, Spring 2011: Legislation has been introduced that would allow licensed raw milk farmers to deliver raw milk directly to the consumer off site from the farm. The farmer would also be able to contract with a third party to deliver raw milk to the consumer. Current law allows only the on-farm sale of raw milk by licensed farmers. In the last year, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and Resources (MDAR) has threatened enforcement action against buyers clubs that have sent agents out to the farm to pick up raw milk for club members. A second bill, the cowshare bill, would establish the right of those who have a partial or complete ownership interest in a dairy animal to legally obtain milk from that animal for the owners’ own personal use. The bill was introduced in response to a recent threat by MDAR that it would take action against farmers operating cow- or herd-share programs.
- Update, Fall 2010: On August 6, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and Resources (MDAR) mailed Sandisfield dairy farmer Brigitte Ruthman an “order to cease and desist the distribution of raw milk.” Ruthman operates a one-cow shareholder dairy and distributes raw milk to the three people that have invested in the cow. If MDAR believed the order would convince Ruthman to stop distributing raw milk and quietly go away, the agency was mistaken.The farmer sent a copy of the order to David Gumpert, declaring that she was going to continue on with the cowshare program. Shortly after Gumpert posted a story on his blog about the order, MDAR sent an inspector to Ruthman’s farm to personally deliver the “cease and desist” order to her. Ruthman was enraged about the trespass on to her property and wound up retaining an attorney to contest the “cease and desist” order.On August 24, Ruthman’s attorney, Douglas Wilkins, sent a letter to MDAR requesting that the department revoke the order, accusing MDAR of violating Ruthman’s due process rights by not granting her notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to issuing the order. The department subsequently revoked the order but did not change its position that anyone operating a cowshare or herdshare program needed to be registered and licensed with the state.Ruthman had previously refused to get licensed because the costs of complying with the licensing requirements were not affordable for her one-cow dairy. If MDAR does not change its position on cowshares, Ruthman is intent on going to court to obtain a ruling that her cowshare program is not under the state’s jurisdiction.
- Updates, Summer 2010: The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and Resources (MDAR) has been a consistent supporter of raw milk and raw milk dairies in the state. The number of dairies licensed by MDAR to sell raw milk increased significantly the past ten years. Since MDAR took over the regulation of raw milk in 1993, there has not been a single illness attributed to any of the state’s raw milk dairies. It was therefore surprising this past winter when MDAR sent warning letters to four different buying clubs that pick up raw milk from some of the licensed dairies—a move that could potentially cripple a number of raw milk farms in the state.In Massachusetts, many of the raw milk dairies are one to two hours away from the major population centers. Under state law, raw milk dairies can only sell raw milk on the farm. What enabled the raw milk farms to sell the volume that they did were the buying clubs; each member of a club entered into an agency agreement with a designated representative for the club who picked up milk for the individual at the farm. Agency agreements are a basic part of contract law and are legal in every state. What MDAR claimed in the warning letters was that the agency agreements weren’t legal unless the person doing the delivery had a milk dealer license; in the past, this requirement had been imposed on those delivering pasteurized milk to retail stores; the law mandating the distributor license had not been meant to apply to someone delivering raw milk direct to the final consumer. If MDAR were able to stop the agency agreements, many people currently getting raw milk would not drive out to the farms to obtain the product, costing some of the state’s raw milk dairies a substantial amount of business.As reported by David Gumpert, the reasons for MDAR’s move against the buying clubs was pressure put on the agency by the usual suspects: the dairy industry and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). In an April 26 meeting with raw milk proponents, MDAR Commissioner Scott Soares disclosed that dairy representatives were expressing concern “that if something goes wrong with raw milk it will hurt all the dairies.” The Commissioner subsequently repeated the standard industry line in a radio interview discussing the effort to ban buying clubs, stating, “our primary concern with this is to protect the milk market itself. . . We cannot afford to have people stop drinking milk for fear of the perception of it being an unhealthy or unsafe product.” As for MDPH, the agency let MDAR know it was unhappy with the buying clubs in a January 7 letter to the MDAR in which it stated that it had become aware that regulations limiting the retail sale of raw milk to the farm “… may be being circumvented through the distribution of raw milk buying clubs . . . The result is that consumers are being supplied with a product that is known to be dangerous to public health, without the minimum safeguards that exist for on-farm sales of raw milk. DPH is concerned that consumers are being misled by the proponents of raw milk.” To placate MDPH and the dairy industry, MDAR issued a proposed regulation explicitly prohibiting buying clubs. The proposed regulation was also, in effect, an acknowledgment by the department that there is no prohibition against buying clubs under existing law. The opposition to the proposal was so great that Soares withdrew it just before a May 10 public hearing on the buying club ban and other proposed amendments to the state dairy regulations. In the announcement withdrawing the rule, Soares maintained that the department could take enforcement against buying clubs under the existing laws in the state. Before the May 10 hearing, about 200 people attended a rally in support of buying clubs on Boston Commons. At the hearing, 48 of the 49 people who had a chance to speak on the buying clubs issue asked MDAR to leave the buying clubs alone; just several days earlier Soares had said that MDAR would not be taking any testimony about buying clubs at the hearing. Soares indicated that MDAR will be holding hearings this summer where the issue of the department banning or regulating buying club deliveries will be considered. MDAR has shown no sign that it will stop its effort to intrude on a basic contractual right that should be beyond the jurisdiction of the government to regulate. For the latest developments on raw milk issues, go to www.thecompletepatient.com.
- Update, May 20, 2010: Testimony of Cyndy Gray to the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and Resources
- Update, Jan. 14, 2008: At present, more than 15 farms throughout the state are licensed to sell raw milk, giving them the right to sell unlimited quantities. No off-farm stores sell raw milk. For a list of farms that sell raw milk in your community, visit http://www.nofamass.org/programs/organicdairy/index.php, or contact Kate Rossiter, NOFA/Mass Organic Dairy Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Organized efforts have evolved to provide improved access for real milk. Just Dairy provides information and helps provide access for those who desire real milk in Eastern Massachusetts. Write to email@example.com.
- Update, Fall 2004: The Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) of Massachusetts has successfully aided five Massachusetts farms in acquiring licenses to sell raw milk and created networks for the public to connect with raw milk suppliers. The demand for quality raw milk continues to grow.
- Update, Fall 2003: Thanks to the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association for posting information about raw milk in Massachusetts on their website, www.nofamass.org/programs/rawmilk.index.php. The NOFA/Mass Raw Milk team has helped dairy farms initiate raw milk production, met with regulators to win their support for raw milk producers and researched the regulations, bylaws and practical problems associated with raw milk production. The organization assisted Chase Hill Dairy in developing raw milk sales, organized a meeting between regulators and a potential raw milk dairy farmer in Hardwick and are contacting many more producers all the time. The NOFA/Mass Raw Milk team meets every month; email Brian Shillinglaw at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
- Update, Spring 2003: State law allows the sale of raw milk, but local regulations determine whether raw milk is available in a particular township. That’s why the availability of raw milk in Massachusetts varies from district to district. Cyndy Gray is spearheading an effort to set up a cowshare program—the Contented Cow Co-op—in Essex, Massachusetts, where local laws are restrictive. One family has volunteered to make available their historic dairy farm. Purchase of cows and equipment will be necessary. If you would like to help, contact Cyndy at email@example.com. In Hardwick, Massachusetts (about the middle of the state), Regina Robinson is in the planning phases of a cowshare program using restored pasture rented from her dad, a conventional dairy farmer. She needs both moral support and financial help. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-477-0011.
Raw milk sales are now legal via herdshare as of May 2013.
Michigan was the first state to pass mandatory pasteurization laws—the year was 1948—and until the recent herdshare policy, had some of the strictest milk laws on the books, not even allowing farmers to sell raw milk from the farm. In 2002, at hearings on the revision of the Michigan State Dairy Code, the industry attempted to amend the code to make it illegal for dairy farmers, their family members, their farm workers, and even their farm animals to drink the farm’s raw milk. This plan was fortunately dropped, due to the efforts of dairy farmer Chuck Oliver and members of the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
- Update, May 27, 2013: Michigan Adopts Policy on Herdshares
- Update, July 29, 2012: Cow Bell Dairy Raw Milk Farmer in Michigan Needs Help
- Update, August 2007: Michigan: Richard Hebron, the owner of Hebron Family Farms and manager of Family Farms Cooperative (FFC), reached a settlement agreement with Cass County’ s Prosecutor’s Office, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) on April 20. Last fall MDA agents stopped Hebron on his way to a Co-op distribution site in Ann Arbor (Washtenaw County) and served him a search warrant for the contents of his truck. At the same time other MDA agents descended on Hebron’s farm in Vandalia (Cass County) with a second search warrant. In executing the two warrants the Department placed under seizure order thousands of dollars of raw dairy and other food products, his computer and cell phone as well as records pertaining to FFC’s operations. MDA turned these records along with the results of their investigation over to the Cass County Prosecutor last fall. The Cass County Prosecutor, Victor Fitz, indicated that he was prepared to bring charges against Richard Hebron, but urged the farmer and MDA to work out a settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, Hebron will be able to continue distributing the same products as before to FFC members. FFC has a herd lease contract with another farm and the settlement agreement specifically recognizes that Richard may distribute raw milk to the co-op members pursuant to the contract. Hebron and MDA agreed to submit to the Michigan Department of Attorney General for an advisory opinion the question of whether the farmer can distribute other raw dairy products to the co-op as well. The Attorney General’s opinion on this matter is not binding on either party. Hebron was not charged with a crime nor assessed any criminal penalty. He did agree to pay MDA an administrative fine and to destroy the remaining dairy products MDA had placed under seizure. The Department has returned to Hebron food containers, cell phone, computer and records taken under the warrant. There is one unsettled aspect to Hebron’s agreement with MDA which will be covered next.
- Update, March 2007: Click here to read about what the power of testimonials has done for MI. Read Raw Milk Health Testimonials from Michigan.
- Update, Spring 2007: Raw milk supporters are still waiting to hear whether the Cass County prosecutor will file charges against Richard Hebron after the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) cops-and-robbers sting operation against his Family Farms Coop in October. Supporters have collected over 220 raw milk testimonials. One MDA official divulged the state attorney general’s statement that MDA had no jurisdiction over cowshare programs, leading to talk of a settlement. Related developments in Indiana (see above) complicate matters.
- Update, Winter 2006: On October 13, 2006, the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) executed a sting operation against Richard Hebron and the Family Farms Coop (FFC), a private membership farm cooperative with about 1,000 members in Michigan and Illinois. Michigan state police and MDA agents pulled Hebron over on his way to his weekly Ann Arbor distribution site, served him a search warrant for the contents of his truck and seized all the products he was delivering. At the same time Hebron was stopped on the road, officers served Hebron’s wife Annette with a search warrant on their farm and seized their computer, all cowshare records, cow herd release agreements, rolodex, invoices, current order sheets, product sheets, delivery schedules, and all raw dairy products in storage. In an affidavit left with Annette Hebron, an instance of illness among children of one of the member families was documented as impetus for the investigation. The illness had occurred in April, six months earlier, but did not actually involve consumption of raw milk at all. The family had missed the previous week’s milk delivery and had purchased commercial milk from a grocery store. Three days later all children had become violently ill with gastrointestinal symptoms. The mother’s casual remark to their doctor about the family also drinking raw milk led to the notification of the county health department, and then the department of agriculture. No investigation into the actual cause of the children’s illness has ever been made. MDA planted a “mole” in the group last May, who signed a lease agreement after being refused purchases of milk and who subsequently obtained various products through the lease agreement between May and October 2006. It was noted in the warrant that the milk was tested by the Michigan Department of Agriculture on more than one occasion. The tests confirmed that the milk was raw and of very high quality. At this date, no charges have been made against the Hebrons and milk deliveries are continuing as before.
- Update, Spring 2003: Although not technically allowed under current dairy regulations, a cowshare program operated by Chuck and Debbie Oliver serving the greater metropolitan Detroit area is thriving. Currently providing unprocessed milk and cream to approximately 200 participants, the Olivers are signing up new customers weekly.Interest is growing in other parts of the state, especially as farmers recognize that cowshare programs are a way to overcome the downward income spiral of dairy farmers caught in the contract system. New programs may be starting in the Grand Rapids and Lansing areas, as well as another north of Traverse city. These farmers will need strong consumer support. At the same time, the Detroit chapter is working with legislators to change existing regulations to include cowshare programs. To support this endeavor, please contact Peggy Beals at (734) 457-0406 or email@example.com .
- Update, Spring 2002: Although legislation dealing with cowshare programs was not specifically included in Michigan’s new dairy regulations, some believe that the regs can be interpreted to allow them, and Chuck Oliver has informed the State of Michigan that he is going ahead with such a program. Working with Lisa Wesala of the Detroit chapter who hosted a meeting on raw milk that attracted almost 50 people, a lively cowshare program has been initiated, with Oliver getting 2-3 calls per week from new families wanting to sign up. For further information, contact Lisa at 248-828-8494.
- Update, Winter 2001: Michigan was the first state to pass mandatory pasteurization laws—the year was 1948—and has some of the strictest milk laws on the books. Farmers may not even sell raw milk from the farm. At recent hearings on the revision of the Michigan State Dairy Code, the industry attempted to amend the code to make it illegal for family members and workers on dairy farms to even drink raw milk. This plan was fortunately dropped, due to the efforts of dairy farmer Chuck Oliver and members of the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. At hearings in Lansing, Michigan in October, members of the Foundation testified before the Michigan Senate Committee for Farming, Agribusiness and Food Systems on the health benefits of whole unprocessed milk and the dangers of pasteurized milk. Committee members were startled to learn that raw milk was allowed in other states without any problems while pasteurized milk was responsible for numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness. Our local Michigan chapter is now meeting with elected representatives of the State of Michigan and the Department of Agriculture in an effort to amend the dairy code in favor of citizen rights to establish cowshare programs. To further the cause, Chuck Oliver took a cow to downtown Lapeer during the annual Christmas parade after contacting the media to let them know about his cause. He got news coverage on two stations, two newspaper articles—one on the front page—and was also interviewed on a local radio station. Chuck has also contacted the many dairy farmers in his state to let them know how profitable it is to sell directly to consumers. Due to his efforts, a number of other Michigan farmers have expressed interest in the program. If you would like to help out in these efforts to make nature’s perfect food available to children and adults in the State of Michigan, contact Lisa Wesala, Chairman of our local chapter at 248-828-8494.
The Department of Agriculture prohibits the sale of raw dairy with the exception of “milk, cream, skim milk, goat milk, or sheep milk occasionally secured or purchased for personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced.” The farmer cannot advertise and customers must bring their own containers. The state interprets “occasionally secured or purchased for personal use” to mean that farmers cannot sell raw milk to regular customers on a routine basis.
The Minnesota Constitution states that “any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefore.” The Minnesota statutes also contain this exemption. The state interprets this provision to apply to produce farmers and their right to sell on site and at farmer’s markets without a license. The department does not apply the licensing exemption laws to raw milk farmers with the limited exception of occasional sales to consumers on the farm. Several farmers are contesting the department’s interpretation of the licensing exemption laws.
- Update, Spring 2013: Alvin Schlangen case
- Update, Spring 2013: Michael Hartmann case
- Update, Winter 2012: Alvin Schlangen case and Alvin Schlangen Trial–A Personal Account
- Update, Winter 2012: Michael Hartmann case
- Update, Fall 2012: Michael Hartmann case
- Action Alert, Sept. 13, 2012: Criminal Trial for Peaceful Farmer Alvin Schlangen
- Update, Summer 2012: Minnesota Department of Agriculture Crackdown
- Update, Spring 2012: Alvin Schlangen Case
- Update, Spring 2012: There are companion bills before the Minnesota Senate and House. The bills were introduced last year; the legislature is in the second year of a two-year session. Current statute allows the sale of raw milk and cream “occasionally secured or purchased for personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced.” This is in conflict with the Minnesota Constitution which provides that one may sell or peddle the products of the farm occupied and cultivated by that person. The legislation would eliminate the inconsistency. HF 255 (and SF 147) would allow direct farm-to-consumer sales and delivery of raw milk and raw milk products such as cream, butter, yogurt and cheese on a regular basis. Delivery can also be made by either the seller’s or buyer’s agent and can take place at farmers’ markets, farm stands or designated delivery sites among other locations. The bills were referred to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee and the House Agricultural and Rural Development Committee, respectively.
- Action Alert, Feb. 4, 2012: Getting Raw Milk Out of the Line of Fire in Minnesota: A Call to Action
- Update, Summer 2011: Michael Hartmann case
- Update, Summer 2011: Alvin Schlangen Case
- Update, Spring 2011: Michael Hartmann case
- Update, Spring 2011: Current statute allows the sale of raw milk and cream “occasionally secured or purchased for personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced”; this is in conflict with the Minnesota Constitution which provides that one may sell or peddle the products of the farm occupied and cultivated by that person. A bill has been introduced that would rectify the inconsistency. HF255 (and companion bill SF147) would allow direct farm-to-consumer sales and delivery of raw milk and raw milk products such as cream, butter, yogurt and cheese on a regular basis. Delivery would also be allowed by either the seller’s or buyer’s agent and could take place at farmers’ markets, farmstands or designated delivery sites among other locations. In the past year, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has cracked down on the delivery of raw milk, even executing a criminal search warrant at a consumer’s residence where delivery took place.
- Update, Fall 2010: Michael Hartmann Case
- Update, Summer 2010: Michael Hartmann Case
- Update, Fall 2004: The Minnesota constitution allows the sale of the products of the farm without a permit. State officials argue that this stipulation does not include milk or meat. Roger Hartman of Mom’s dairy has asked for the court to rule on this provision. The case will be heard before the Minnesota Supreme Court in 3-4 months.
- Update, Spring 2004: The Minnesota constitution guarantees farmers the right to sell the products of their farm or garden without a permit. The State interprets that provision as forbidding delivery of raw milk and got a favorable ruling when they took dairy farmer Mike Larson to court. Mike plans to appeal but meanwhile, his customers have arranged car-pooling to pick up milk at the farm.
- Update, Winter 2002–Ongoing Challenge in MN:The State of Minnesota constitution guarantees the right of farmers to sell the products of their farm directly to consumers. The first attempt by the State of Minnesota through its Department of Agriculture to shut down Mom’s Dairy for direct sales was denied by the judge. Owners Roger and Michael Hartmann are facing another lawsuit, which cuts even closer to the core of their basic rights to sell their food directly to the customer. That lawsuit is set for January 3, 2003 at Glencoe, Minnesota in McLeod County. The Hartman’s are urging residents of Minnesota to write to their representatives and ask them two questions. “Do I as a consumer have the right to obtain food directly from the farmer?” and “Do farmers have the right to sell the food they produce directly to the consumer?” If a response is received, please send copies to Doug Schmoll, c/o Potpourri, 310 Litchfield Avenue SW, Willmar, MN 56201. They are also urging consumers to pack the courthouse with supporters on the day of the trial. The date and time could be changed so call 507-834-6308 for updates.
On-farm sales of raw goat milk are legal as long as there are no more than nine producing goats on the farm. The farmer cannot advertise and must sell directly to the consumer.
Farmers can sell raw milk and cream to the final consumer either on the farm or through delivery without being required to have a permit. Those interested in selling raw milk and cream other than on-farm or through delivery (e.g., farmers markets) must obtain a retail raw milk permit from the state and must have state approved bottling equipment on the premises. In addition, farmers with a retail raw milk permit must comply with state labeling regulations for raw milk and raw milk products.
- Update, Spring 2013: Morningland Dairy case
- Update, Winter 2012: Morningland Dairy case
- Update, Fall 2012: Bechard Family Farm case
- Update, Spring 2011: Morningland Dairy case
- Update, Winter 2010: Morningland Dairy case
- Update, Winter 2009: Bechard Family Farm case
- Update, Spring 2009: Representative Belinda Harris (D-Hillsboro) has introduced House Bill 233, a bill that would exempt the sale of all raw dairy products directly from the producer to the consumer either at the farm or through delivery. Under current law, only sales of raw milk and cream from the producer to the consumer are exempt. HB233 is before the House Committee on Agriculture Policy.
- Update, Spring 2008: State Representative Belinda Harris (D-Hillsboro) has introduced House Bill 1901, a bill that would clarify the law on the sale of raw milk and cream in Missouri. Current law excepts the sale of raw milk and cream at the farm and through delivery from the general prohibition on the sale of raw milk. Last summer and fall the state Milk Board sent warning letters to half a dozen farmers claiming that a permit was required to sell under the exception. Rep. Harris’ bill was in response to the public outcry that followed the Milk Board’s actions. HB1901 makes clear that a permit is not required to sell raw milk and cream at the farm and through delivery. Even if the bill does not pass, it can be considered a success. The Milk Board has reversed its position and now says that a permit is not required to sell under the exception. The Milk Board sent letters of apology to all the farmers it had warned last year. Rep. Harris’ bill has broad support. The biggest obstacle to its passage is that the Republicans, who comprise the majority in the Missouri House of Representatives, may introduce a raw milk bill of their own. The Chair of the House Special Agribusiness Committee to which HB1901 has been assigned has delayed a hearing on the bill while waiting to see if a Republican bill will materialize.
Raw milk sales are illegal. The state issued retail raw milk licenses until 1998 when a number of illnesses blamed on raw milk consumption led to the current ban.
- Update, Spring 2013: House Bill 574 would expressly legalize herdshare arrangements as well as the on-farm sale and delivery of raw milk to the consumer. Producers selling raw milk must register with the state department of agriculture and must meet testing standards mandated by the bill. The dairy herd must be fewer than fifteen lactating cows, thirty lactating goats or thirty lactating sheep. The department will issue a small herd exemption permit to dairies selling raw milk and raw milk products.
On-farm sales of raw milk and cream to consumers are legal. Farmers cannot advertise.
If a farmer’s business involves only on-farm sales of raw milk, the farmer does not have to obtain a permit and is not subject to state milk regulations.
- Update, Summer 2006: FIRST RAW MILK SUMMIT MEETING: Almost 100 activists, including a few from the dairy industry, met in Norfolk, Nebraska, May 26-27, to come up with fact sheets and protocol for raw milk sales. The final document will include suggestions for animal feed and husbandry, milking techniques, equipment, testing, bottling, containers and storage. The indefatigable Mark McAfee from Organic Pastures dairy in California provided technical information on pathogens, cell counts and testing. Raw milk activist Tim Wightman (formerly of Wisconsin but now moving to Ohio) has agreed to coordinate all the input to the final document. The document, which will be peer reviewed and endorsed by a number of consumer and farm groups, will serve as a valuable tool for legislators formulating laws dealing with on-farm sales of raw milk. We will keep you updated as developments occur.
- Update, Spring 2006: LB 132 would open up the raw milk market in Nebraska by allowing advertising and delivery of raw milk. The bill is number 24 on the general file, which means it has a chance of reaching the floor this year; if not, re-introduction will be necessary.
- Update, Fall 2004: State legislators heard testimony on September 10 for a proposal to revamp the Nebraska milk code to allow for advertising and delivery of raw milk and raw milk products (on-farm sales are legal in Nebraska, but vast distances make such sales impractical for most consumers) as well as the establishment of two-tiered processing regulations that would allow for low-tech, on-farm processing of raw cheese and other dairy products. The legislators were very receptive to the proposals and a committee, spearheaded by David Wetzel, Page, Nebraska chapter leader, is drafting legislation. Consumers are encouraged to write to Dan Borer, head of the dairy division of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, in support of the proposed legislation. His address is PO Box 95064, Lincoln, NE 68509.
- Update, Spring 2004: David Wetzel is leading efforts to have raw milk legalized in Nebraska. The state allows on-farm sales, but many dairy farms in the state are a long way from population centers. In February, the Nebraska Extension Service, which is supposed to support small farmers, published an anti-raw milk article full of the usual falsehoods.
Raw milk sales are legal but, in practice, there are no raw milk sales in the state.
In order for a farmer to obtain a permit from the state dairy commission to produce and distribute raw milk, the county milk commission must first certify the farm for the production of raw milk or a raw milk product.
Under state statute, the board of county commissioners must establish the county milk commission. The county must issue regulations governing the production and distribution of raw milk and raw milk products. These regulations are not valid unless the State Board of Health and the State Dairy Commission first approve them.
There has never been a county milk commission in existence at any time, so to this point, there has been a de facto prohibition of raw milk sales.
There is a state law that permits the sale of raw milk and raw milk products produced out of state if the producer follows the relevant Nevada statutory requirements. However, one of the requirements is that the milk and milk products receive an acceptable milk sanitation, compliance and enforcement rating from a state milk sanitation rating officer certified by the United States Public Health Service. The U. S. P. H. S. would not certify a state employee who did not comply with the provisions of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. The PMO bans the sale of unpasteurized milk to the final consumer.
- Update, December 2008: FDA Action Stops Legal Sale of Raw Colostrum in Nevada. Tragically, the week of December 7-12th 2008 will be the last week that OPDC will be able to deliver raw products to Reno Nevada. The FDA has brought legal enforcement action to stop OPDC deliveries of raw colostrum to Reno Nevada.In late 2007, with out notifying OPDC, the FDA changed the regulations pertaining to raw Colostrum and now mandates that colostrum must be pasteurized if transported across state lines. OPDC had no idea that these laws had changed until discovered last week.This came as a quite a shock to Organic Pastures Dairy and our family of closely connected consumers. OPDC had worked for three years to gain permission from the Nevada State dairy commission for the retail sale of raw colostrum. After much debate, the Nevada State Dairy Commission graciously gave its permission after hearing the facts about DSHEA and raw colostrum. This has all come to an end. Nevada is not at fault, this is an FDA action.We at OPDC are sickened by this stealth FDA rule change. This FDA change does not serve to increase food safety but instead forces raw products underground where it is not tested or inspected. There have been zero reported illnesses associated with raw colostrum…ever!!!If you want raw milk or raw colostrum to once again to be found on Nevada retail shelves you will need to fight the powers in our government which do not seek to increase immune strength but do all that they can to weaken it by mandating the processing of your foods and consumption of drugs.Please join the Dr. Kelly buyers club. She takes delivery of fresh OPDC products in Tahoe where it is legal to purchase and consume. She will do all she can to assure that all of you will continue to have access to whole unprocessed foods. Dr. Kelly is not an employee of OPDC and she does not represent OPDC. She runs a buyers club in Tahoe and can serve you on an individual by individual basis at excellent prices. For more Reno, Nevada updates, contact the Dr. Kelly Raw Milk Buyers Club, Dr. Kelly Truckee Tahoe number: 530-582-5639, firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Update, Summer 2008: Thanks to the work of the indefatigable Bari Caine, now a chapter leader in Reno, legal forms of raw dairy products are now available at Wild Oats stores and Whole Foods in Las Vegas. The Organic Pastures products include raw colostrum, “Superlite Raw Colostrum,” composed of 95 percent raw milk and 5 percent colostrum, raw “Quefor,” kombucha and raw cheddar cheese. The Organic Pastures truck can drop shipments to groups at reduced prices. For further information, contact Organic Pastures at 877-729-6455.
New Hampshire now allows licensed dairies to sell raw milk in retail stores. In addition, unlicensed dairies can sell up to 20 gallons of of raw milk a day or raw dairy products such as butter, cheese, cream, and yogurt made from up to 20 gallons of milk a day. They can sell on the farm, through delivery, and at farmers markets.
- Update, Fall 2012: On June 7 a bill was signed into law providing that “a milk producer-distributor who daily produces for sale less than 20 gallons of raw milk or processes less than 20 gallons of raw milk into cheese aged at least 60 days, yogurt, cream, butter, or kefir shall not require a milk producer-distributor license, provided these products are offered as direct sales from the producer-distributor’s own farm, farm stand, or at a farmers market to the food consumers within the state of New Hampshire only.” The dairy amendment creates an opportunity for producers to increase their income by selling value-added products, something very few other states allow. It is difficult to see why states have not legalized the sale of raw dairy products other than milk and cheese aged sixty days because in the states where the sale of raw butter, cream and yogurt have been legal there are few, if any, cases of foodborne illness attributed to the consumption of these products. The sale of aged raw cheese is legal in every state but even small-scale cheese producers are subject to burdensome dairy plant requirements to be in compliance. In addition to expanding the kinds of raw dairy products that can be sold, the bill also allows the sales to take place at farmers markets. Most states that have legalized the unlicensed sale of raw milk have limited sales to the farm, decreasing the producer’s potential customer base. The bill (HB1402) is a significant step in opening up new markets for small-scale raw milk producers.
- Update, Spring 2012: HB1402, which would allow the unlicensed sale of raw milk products by small-scale producers, was referred in February to the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs and scheduled for a public hearing March 6. The bill would allow the unlicensed sale of raw yogurt, cream, butter or kefir on the farm, at a farm stand or at a farmers market by those processing less than twenty gallons of raw milk per day into raw milk products. Current law allows the unlicensed sale of raw milk by those farms producing less than twenty gallons per day. Any products sold under the exemption provided by HB1402 shall have a label on the product as well as a sign at the point of sale indicating that the products were made from raw milk that is exempt from licensing and inspection. HB1402 combines the provision on raw milk products with an unrelated section on the sale of homestead food products produced in a home kitchen.
Raw milk sales are illegal. To obtain other unpasteurized dairy products, residents travel to Pennsylvania and New York, which both allow raw milk. Organic grass-fed “Natural By Nature” pasteurized milk products are sold in New Jersey.
- Update, Spring 2013: Assembly Bill 518 would allow the licensed on-farm sale of raw milk. The bill was introduced in 2012; the New Jersey legislature is in the midst of a two-year session. The bill also allows the sale of raw milk products and exempts farmers operating herdshare programs from the permit requirement. There are testing and labeling requirements for licensees; permit applicants must submit an affidavit agreeing that no growth hormones will be given to cows producing raw milk. There is a Senate companion bill, S.279.
- Update, Spring 2012: AB 518, a bill that would legalize the on-farm sale of raw milk by licensed producers has passed out of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is now up before the full Assembly for a vote. In addition to legalizing the sale of raw milk the bill would allow licensees to sell raw yogurt, kefir, butter, cottage cheese and cheese as well. AB 518 also has a provision stating that nothing “shall preclude a consumer, for the purpose of obtaining raw milk, and a farmer from entering into a contract for shared ownership of a cow and contractually prescribing the terms and condition of milk production.” If the farmer and consumer enter into this type of contract, no raw milk permit is required. The same bill was introduced in the prior legislative session but died in a Senate committee after passing in the Assembly.
- Action Alert, Feb. 1, 2012: NJ Raw Milk Bill Hearing Tomorrow
- Update, Summer 2011: It has been a rough legislative session for raw milk bills in the state houses. (See Spring 2011 update below for background on the state raw milk bills introduced this legislative session.) The only bill to make it out of committee that is still alive is Senate bill 2702 (S-2702) in New Jersey; a companion bill, AB 743, passed out of the General Assembly on March 14 by a 71-6 vote. S-2702 has been assigned to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The current version of the bill would allow the on-farm sale of raw milk and raw milk products by a licensed dairy. The bill also states that if a farmer and the consumer enter into a contract for share ownership of a cow, no raw milk permit shall be required.One trend in the current legislative session has been increased opposition from FDA and the dairy industry. FDA has no jurisdiction over the sale of raw milk in intrastate commerce but has continued to put pressure on states to restrict or ban the sale of raw milk. This session, FDA submitted written testimony from Dairy and Plant Food Safety Division Director John Sheehan opposing raw milk legislation in Tennessee and Maine even though the bills in both states were primarily introduced just to clarify existing law; the sale of raw milk is already legal in Maine as is the distribution of raw milk through herdshares in Tennessee.In New Jersey, major opposition to the raw milk bill there came from the National Milk Producer Federation (NMPF). According to the organization’s website, NMPF “develops and carries out policies that advance the well being of dairy producers and the cooperatives. . . the policy positions expressed by NMPF are the only nationwide expression of dairy producers and their cooperatives on national public policy.” It has been under NMPF’s watch that the number of dairies in this country has declined by over ninety percent since 1970. NMPF along with the International Dairy Foods Association sent a letter on April 4 to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and State Senate Majority leader Steve Sweeney urging them to oppose S-2702. New Jersey has eighty-seven Grade A dairies left in the state. The NMPF would do better by its members supporting legislation that could actually keep them in business rather than continuing to pursue policies that will only shut down more of the dairy farms still remaining.
- Update, Spring 2011: Assembly Bill 743 (and companion bill S-2702) would allow the sale of raw milk and raw milk products (such as yogurt, kefir, butter, cream and cheese) by a licensed dairy either directly to consumers or to retail stores. The bill also states that if a farmer and the consumer enter into a contract for shared ownership of a cow, no raw milk permit would be required. Current law prohibits the sale of raw milk and raw milk products except for cheese aged sixty days or more. The bill has been voted out of the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee and is going to the full Assembly for a vote.
- Update, Summer 2009: Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Warren/Hunterdon) and State Senator Marcia Karrow (R-Warren/Hunterdon) have introduced companion bills to legalize the sale of raw milk in New Jersey. The Assembly bill is A621 (formerly A4424 filed in 2007); the Senate bill is S2627 and has been assigned to the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The bills allow a licensed producer “to sell, offer for sale or otherwise make available raw milk directly to consumers or retail stores.” The bills also allow raw milk licensees to sell raw milk products, specifically listing yogurt, kefir, butter, cottage cheese and raw milk cheese. In addition, the bills expressly legalize cowshares, stating that nothing in the law “shall…preclude a consumer, for the purpose of obtaining raw milk, and a farmer from entering into a contract for shared ownership of a cow and contractually prescribing the terms and conditions of milk production. If the contract is entered into pursuant to this subsection, no raw milk permit shall be required.” Under the terms of the bills, applicants cannot obtain a permit unless they sign an affidavit “certifying that no growth hormones will be used in the process of producing raw milk.” On May 11, the Assembly Agriculture Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on A621. After the hearing, Committee Chairman Nelson Albano (D-Cape May) was quoted as saying, “Our intent as a committee is to make sure that we do everything possible to help dairy farmers in the state of New Jersey. We cannot let this be a dying breed . . . we also have to make sure that consumers in New Jersey have the right to purchase something they can get in any other state.” The current ban on raw milk sales has cost the State’s dairy farmers substantial business in sales that have gone to raw milk producers in Pennsylvania.
- Update, Winter 2007: Currently, New Jersey citizens are actively pursuing the legalization of raw milk sales in our state. See www.gardenstaterawmilk.org for information about the campaign and how you can help.
- Update, Spring 2002: Governor James E. McGreevey has told Charles Kuperus, New Jersey’s new head of the Department of Agriculture, that his job is to “Preserve our farms, fight for our farmers and ensure that our agricultural industry is profitable and strong, innovative and poised for a bright future.” Strict pasteurization laws instituted in the early 1950s have made the thriving small dairy farms of New Jersey a thing of the past but Elizabeth Murphy of the Sussex County Food Co-op wants to get some cowshare programs going and help the governor fulfill his plan of reviving agriculture in the state. If you would like to get involved, contact Elizabeth Murphy at 973-347-1695, email@example.com.
Raw milk sales are legal if they farmer has obtained a permit from the state Department of Agriculture. Even though state law allows the sale of raw milk products, it has been the policy of the department to limit the permit to raw milk sales only.
There is a labeling requirement that all containers of retail raw milk must carry the statement “RAW MILK IS NOT PASTEURIZED AND MAY CONTAIN ORGANISMS THAT CAUSE HUMAN DISEASE.”
At the present time, there is one farm that has a permit to sell raw goat milk. There are no other retail raw milk licensees in the state.
- Update, Spring 2013: The one state where an attempt has been made to roll back the clock is New Mexico. Senate Bill 286 would make the sale of raw milk unlawful in New Mexico. State law currently allows the licensed sale of raw milk on the farm and in retail stores. SB 286 died in the Senate Conservation Committee.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm. The farmer must have a license from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The farmer must post a sign at the point of sale that states, “Notice:Raw milk sold here. Raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization.” Raw milk vendors can only sell to consumers.
The state routinely inspects retail raw milk for pathogens which is not a requirement for raw milk for pasteurization.
Even though the seller’s permit is currently for only the sale of raw milk, the state is considering expanding the license to include the sale of other raw dairy products.
- Update, Summer 2009: State Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I-District 57) has re-introduced Senate bill S2428 (formerly S6827 in 2008) while Representative Daniel Burling (R,C,I-Warsaw) has re-introduced A6610 (formerly A10870 in 2008); these companion bills would allow the sale of raw milk in retail stores. Current law permits only on-farm sales. Those selling raw milk at retail would be required to post a sign at the point of sale reading, “NOTICE: Raw Milk sold here. Raw Milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization.” The Senate bill has been referred to the Consumer Protection Committee and the Assembly bill has been referred to the Agriculture Committee.
- Update, Winter 2008: Latest on the Meadowsweet Dairy Case
- Update, Fall 2008: Latest on the Meadowsweet Dairy Case
- Update, Summer 2008: Latest on the Meadowsweet Dairy Case
- Update, Spring 2008: Latest on the Meadowsweet Dairy Case
- Update, Winter 2007: A potentially significant case is underway in New York. Until March of this year, Steve and Barbara Smith had held a permit to sell raw milk. Under state law, those holding a permit can sell raw milk only on the farm. The Smiths do not live near a population center and this restriction limited the growth of their customer base. On March 10, the Smiths gave up their permit and started a new business model. They deeded their cows to a limited liability company, Meadowsweet Dairy LLC, and sold membership interests in the LLC to those who wanted to obtain raw dairy products. The Smiths began deliveries to LLC members and their business grew rapidly—by October there were 115 members and thirty more on the waiting list. When the Smiths returned their permit to the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYDAM), they informed the agency of their plans to start Meadowsweet Dairy LLC. NYDAM contended the LLC was still subject to the permit requirement and continued to inspect the dairy. Tensions between the Smiths and NYDAM escalated over the next seven months until October 11, when the agency executed a seizure order on 260 pounds of raw dairy products at the Smiths’ farm. The Smiths intend to respond to the seizure by filing suit to obtain a court ruling confirming the fact that Meadowsweet Dairy LLC is not under the jurisdiction of the state. The Smiths are members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Fund has hired Gary Cox to represent them. A favorable ruling would considerably improve the prospects of raw milk farmers in New York; there are fewer than twenty licensed farmers and the restriction to on-farm sales limits opportunities for licensees. A ruling that Meadowsweet Dairy LLC is not under the state‘s jurisdiction could enable New York raw milk producers to recover much of the business that is lost to the neighboring states of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
- Action Alert, Aug. 12, 2007: Read about the Harassment of Raw Milk Farmers in Pennsylvania and New York
- Press Release, Aug. 17, 2007: Read Worcester Dairy Resumes Raw Milk Sales
- Update, Spring 2007: Another indication that cowshare programs are getting under the skin of dairy department bureaucrats comes from this state, where an
inspector told a farmer that the state had “taken cowshares to court and won.” Not true! There has been no court case involving cowshares in New York.
- Update, Aug. 24, 2005: The Cheesemakers Guild, a New York based organization, sponsors many workshops on artisan cheesemaking. See www.nycheese.org. The group is also keeping a close eye on the State as it revises its dairy processing regulations.
- Update, Spring 2005: The Cheesemakers Guild, a New York based organization, sponsors many workshops on artisan cheesemaking. See www.nycheese.org. The group is also keeping a close eye on the State as it revises its dairy processing regulations.
- Update, Fall 2004: The raw milk movement is growing in New York. In response to rumors of a state “crackdown,” the Regional Farm and Food Project headed by Tracy Frisch organized a raw milk meeting on October 30 at Hawthorne Valley Farms. About 30 enthusiastic raw milk producers and consumers attended. Meanwhile, we hear that the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is considering expanding the scope of the raw milk permits they issue to include other raw dairy products. Currently the permit is good only for raw milk production. Filing a petition with the department could help speed this process. The contact is James Fitts, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-457-5731.
- Update, Jan. 21, 2004: Good news! Hawthorne Valley has resolved the difficulty and is selling raw milk again.
- Update, Fall 2003: Good news! In March of this year, the NY State health department ordered Hawthorne Valley Farm to stop selling raw milk in its on-farm store after tests showed the presence of a pathogen in the milk. That ban has now been lifted and raw milk is again available at Hawthorne Valley.
- Update, April 27, 2003: We have a late-breaking report from Hawthorne Valley Dairy in the Hudson Valley, which sells raw milk through their farm store. State officials have shut down raw milk sales over the issue of Staphylococcus aureus, a potentially pathogenic organism, in the milk. Although no one has gotten sick and no one has complained, officials want to set the accepted level at zero. The dairy will be arguing for a count of 500, which is the European standard for on-farm sales. This is clearly an attempt by the state to shut down raw milk sales in New York. Hawthorne Valley and other raw milk sellers will need dedicated consumer support to force the state to set a reasonable standard.
The sale or dispensing of raw milk for human consumption is illegal. This ban extends to cowshare agreements or to any other contractual arrangement or exchange.
State law does permit farmers to “dispense” raw milk and raw milk products for animal feed.
- Update, Sept. 20, 2008: How We Did It in North Carolina
- Update, Winter 2007: With sales of raw milk for human consumption and cowshares already prohibited by law, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) moved to cut off all legal access to raw milk within the state. On September 7, the Board of NCDA adopted a rule requiring that a charcoal color dye be added to all raw milk sold as pet food. The Board issued the rule despite the existence of only two raw pet milk producers in the state. Spearheaded by Greensboro chapter leader Ruth Ann Foster, opponents of the rule took advantage of a provision in state law to force the rule into the Legislature for review. The next legislative session does not begin until May 2008. At that time Senator Kay Hagan of Greensboro indicated she will introduce a bill to block the rule. For the present, pet milk sales without a dye remain legal.
- Update, August 2007: The state Senate passed SB948, a bill that would repeal the state’s ban on cowshares for those farmers owning ten cows or less. The bill will next go to the House of Representatives for consideration. Currently, the only access to raw milk is by buying pet milk. In an effort to eliminate this, the state department of agriculture has proposed an administrative regulation requiring that all raw pet milk contain a charcoal dye.
- Update, Spring 2007: Senator Kay Hagan is sponsoring the bill to reverse the ban on cowshares. The bill is being drafted and will be introduced during the present legislative session. At the appropriate time, we will send out an Action Alert to North Carolina members. Steve Troxler, the state commissioner of agriculture, is adamantly opposed to the bill and stated that his agency plans to introduce legislation to require green dye in pet milk, so we have an uphill battle ahead. Ruth Ann Foster is spearheading our efforts in North Carolina. She can be contacted at (336) 286-3088, EatReal@gmail.com
- Update, Spring 2006: Raw milk advocates are organizing to restore the right to cowshares—which was taken away when a rider secretly attached to a bill on another subject defined cowshare operations as a sale. Chapter leader Alice Hall is spearheading the effort. Meanwhile, raw milk is still available as pet food, although farmers who make it available have received menacing visits from officials.
- Update, Winter 2004: Three families whose children contracted E. coli after visiting the North Carolina State Fair filed suit Friday against the owners of a Chatham County petting zoo that state health officials have pinpointed as the source of the disease outbreak. The children did not consume raw milk, but if they had, raw milk would have certainly taken the blame. Animals can be a source of pathogens, especially for children who have weakened immune systems and who have not spent a lot of time around them. There have been several cases over the years in which school children have gotten sick after drinking raw milk during a field trip to a farm. This North Carolina petting zoo incident raises the possibility that raw milk wasn’t to blame at all.
- Update, Fall 2004: This is a tough state. Recent legislation has declared cowshare arrangements illegal (SECTION 6.2. G.S. 130A-279). Many consumers are going into Virginia or South Carolina to obtain raw milk.
Herdshares are now legal in North Dakota. Read more below.
Previously, raw milk sales for human consumption were illegal. The state has adopted Section 9 of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance which permits only the sale of pasteurized milk to the final consumer. However, new legislation provides that it is not a violation of law to obtain raw milk under a share animal ownership agreement.
There are no state laws against the sale of raw milk for pet consumption. It is the policy of the state Department of Agriculture to permit on-farm sales of raw milk for pet consumption provided that the farmer posts signs stating that they are selling raw milk for pet consumption only.
- Update, Summer 2013: North Dakota Herdshare Bill Signed Into Law
Raw milk sales for human consumption are illegal. The state has adopted Section 9 of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance which permits only the sale of pasteurized milk to the final consumer.
There are no state laws against the sale of raw milk for pet consumption. It is the policy of the state Department of Agriculture to permit on-farm sales of raw milk for pet consumption provided that the farmer posts signs stating that they are selling raw milk for pet consumption only.
- Update, August 2007: Ohio: A major victory in Ohio: the state government now recognizes cow/herdshares as legal. On September 28, 2006, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) revoked the Grade A milk license of Carol and Paul Schmitmeyer because the agency determined that the operation of Schmitmeyers’ herdshare program constituted a sale in violation of state law. The Schmitmeyers appealed the revocation to the Darke County Court of Common Pleas; and on December 29 Judge Jonathan Hein overturned ODA’s revocation order, ruling that the herdshare could not be termed a sale due to the lack of a clear definition of “sale” in the state dairy code. ODA initially appealed the judge’s decision but on March 20, on the orders of newly elected Governor Ted Strickland, the agency withdrew its appeal. Strickland has made clear that while he does not support the legalization of the sale of raw milk, he has no problem with the operation of herdshare programs in the state. Congratulations to Paul and Carol Schmitmeyer and their attorney Gary Cox!
- Update, March 15, 2007: Judge rules careful herdshare arrangements are a legal deal in Ohio–Ruling overturns state’s aggressive campaign against raw milk operators, By David G. Cox
- Update, Spring 2007: A Darke County, Ohio, judge has ruled that the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) exceeded its authority when it issued a revocation of Carol Schmitmeyer’s Grade A license. In addition to selling milk in the commercial market, the Schmitmeyer’s dairy serves as one of the largest Ohio herd-share operations. Unfortunately, ODA appealed at the last minute, so the case is still in limbo. Meanwhile, raw milk consumers are working for the passage of a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk in Ohio. HB-52, which creates a subcommittee of the milk sanitation board to oversee raw milk sales, has been introduced in the Ohio House. The bill stipulates eight members of the subcommittee, all of whom shall be either raw milk producers or raw milk consumers.
- Update, March 2007: Ohio Testimonials on DVD.
- Update, Winter 2006: Arlene Setzer, sponsor of House Bill 534, which would legalize on-farm raw milk sales in Ohio, has proposed emergency bill HB650, which would place a moratorium on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) ability to deny, suspend or revoke a dairy farmer’s license simply because that farmer engages in herd-share arrangements. In spite of very favorable response on the part of Ohio legislators to our testimony for HB534., the ODA has engaged in systematic harassment of herd-share operators. For example, in Hamilton, the ODA has issued an investigatory subpoena against a farmer operating a herd-share program with only four cows. The subpoena, among other requests, asks for the farmer to produce copies of all herd-share contracts with his shareholders and to produce all bottling records related to his herd-share program. The ODA does not have a shred of evidence that the farmer in question has ever sold raw milk. The only information the Department has about the farmer is that he manages a herd for his shareholders. Since the ODA has no proof whatsoever of wrongdoing, they are attempting to get the farmer to incriminate himself. In Darke County, the ODA has issued a revocation of the license of Paul Schmitmeyer, one of the largest herd-share Ohio producers. In the Schmitmeyer case, the ODA is basing action on multiple laws that are dependent on the fact that the milk is being sold. The Ohio Dairy Code only applies to sales of milk for human consumption. Pressure is definitely coming from the dairy industry. Mega-dairy company Dean Foods has told dairy co-ops that they will not buy their milk if involved in a herd-share program. The Farmers’ Union voted to support the raw milk efforts in Ohio, but there is a special meeting in early September to pressure those members to reverse their vote. Fortunately, farmers in Ohio have excellent legal representation and are optimistic that they can end-run the ODA’s actions. We have sent out an Action Alert to our Ohio members on this issue, urging them to contact the governor, candidates for governor and their elected representatives.
- Update, Aug. 17, 2006: A lot has happened in Ohio since the Dan and Nancy Dremer episode from august 2005. Two investigatory subpoena were issued by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and depositions taken; a permanent injunction hearing on Arlie Stutzman’s case was held; a decision on Arlies’s case was issued that suggests herdshares are not regulated in Ohio; another subpoena has recently been issued by ODA for a deposition of a herdshare producer; we are filing a motion to quash the subpoena; and we have also filed a complaint against ODA seeking a ruling from the court that one of ODA’s commercial feed statutes is unconstitutional. Finally, one producer has received a “proposed revocation” order from ODA. The proposed order seeks to revoke the producers grade a license for allegedly selling raw milk. This is completely bogus because the producer’s raw milk goes to herdshare owners. The farmer and owners will have to request an administrative hearing on the proposed revocation, which should take place sometime in September, 2006. The farmers are on the offensive and fighting back. Ohio raw milk farmers and consumers are ably represented by David G. Cox of Lane, Alton & Horst, LLC.
- Update, July 26, 2006: Kentucky and Ohio: Raw Milk Battleground
- Update, Spring 2006: When an undercover agent visited Amish farmer Arlie Stutzman, pressuring him to sell him milk, Arlie finally gave in and allowed him to take milk from the bulk tank for a donation. The state then slapped him with an injunction for “selling milk without a label” and revoked his grade B license at an administrative hearing. Meanwhile a bill in the Ohio legislature, to be introduced by Representative Arlene Setzer, which would allow on-farm sales of raw milk, permit hand capping and provide an exemption for cowshares, is making headway. The bill includes a provision for retail sales for dairies with a Grade A license. Warren Byle of the Raw Milk Advocacy Council (www.wantmilk.org) is working on co-sponsors (they have 11 so far). The Ohio Farm Bureau has indicated support of the bill if it doesn’t “go too far.”
- Update, Summer 2005: Dairy farmers who want to sell raw milk in this difficult state have hired a lawyer to develop a cowshare or farmshare contract, which will include hygiene standards. The agriculture department has grudgingly agreed to review the documents.
- Update, Spring 2005: This state has some of the strictest laws on the books and the most reactionary agriculture bureaucracy. In March, Dan & Nancy Kremer of E.A.T. Food for Life Farm received a cease and desist order for selling raw pet milk from their farm store. We believe that this action of the Ohio Department of Agriculture is subject to challenge in the courts. However, for the moment, the Kremers are currently complying with the order, but giving the milk away to “anyone who determines that raw milk is a medical necessity for themselves or their loved ones.” Meanwhile, a group headed by Warren Byle is spearheading a movement to legalize raw milk in Ohio. See www.wantmilk.org.
- Update, Jan. 10, 2004: Young’s dairy, the last remaining raw-milk dairy, stopped selling raw milk in January 2003 when a recent outbreak of salmonella sickened 47, 16 of whom worked at the dairy. The strain originated elsewhere in the state and officials could not positively attribute the problem to Young’s. Nevertheless, the state put considerable pressure on the dairy (threatening to take away their Grade A license and close down the pasteurized portion of their business) which then closed down the raw milk portion of their operation. The outbreak and subsequent decision by the dairy came just a week after the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation voted to support an effort aimed at permitting more people to sell raw milk. The majority of the more than 400 delegates to the group’s annual meetings, all active or retired farmers from across the state, said that anyone who wants to should be given a licence to sell raw milk. Then came the incident at Young’s Dairy. Coincidence? We think not. But the decision by Young’s could actually be a boon to other farmers in the state who want to set up cowshare or farmshare programs. Laurie Smith of Cridersville is trying to put something together. She can be contacted at email@example.com. If you live in the state of Ohio and support the right to purchase raw milk at the farm, please join the Yahoo group titled “Ohio WAPF” (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Ohiowapf/) to stay informed of grass roots efforts to legalize the sale of raw milk in Ohio. A postcard campaign to legislators is currently in the works and we need to know who you are!
- Update, Spring 2003: For years, the only dairy selling raw milk in Ohio has been Young’s dairy—grandfathered in when legislation to abolish raw milk sales was passed in 1956. But after 50 years without a single problem, the dairy has decided to close down the raw milk operation and sell only pasteurized milk. The reason: a recent outbreak of 47 salmonella cases, 16 of whom worked at the dairy, from a strain that originated elsewhere in the state. And while state officials have been unable to positively attribute the problem to Young’s, the dairy has given in to pressure. The outbreak and subsequent decision by the dairy came just a week after the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation voted to support an effort aimed at permitting more people to sell raw milk. The majority of the more than 400 delegates to the group’s annual meetings, all active or retired farmers from across the state, said that anyone who wants to should be given a license to sell raw milk. Then came the incident at Young’s Dairy. Coincidence? We think not. But the decision by Young’s could actually be a boon to other farmers in the state who want to set up cowshare or farmshare programs. Laurie Smith of Cridersville is trying to put something together. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Update, Spring 2002: Ohio law does not allow the sale of raw milk except for dairies grandfathered in before 1965. That leaves only one dairy, Young’s Dairy of Yellow Springs, selling raw milk in the state. Ralph Schlatter of Defiance, Ohio has begun speaking with Department of Agriculture and Ohio congressional officials to amend current law to allow on-farm sales or on-farm store sales. If you would like to support Ralph in these efforts, contact him at 419-399-2350 or email@example.com.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm. Farmers can make “incidental sales of raw milk directly to consumers” without having to obtain a permit. While state law does not specifically define what incidental sales of raw cows milk are and leaves this determination to the discretion of the state inspector, raw goat milk producers can sell up to 100 gallons of goat milk per month without a permit. Farmers making incidental sales of raw goat milk have the right to advertise.
Even though the incidental sales exception does not apply to raw cheese, state law does not prohibit farmers from making cheese using milk or cream produced on their farm.
Farmers making more than incidental sales of raw milk must have a raw milk permit. This permit is only good for raw milk sales, not for any other raw dairy products. Producers wanting to sell raw milk products must obtain a manufacturing plant permit.
- Update, Spring 2013: House Bill 1541 would allow the incidental sale of raw milk delivered by the raw milk producer directly to the consumer’s residence so long as the farm is a Grade A facility and the milk is labeled as “unpasteurized milk.” Current law only allows incidental sales of raw milk on the farm.
- Update, Spring 2006: A move to annex the land belonging to Oklahoma’s major raw milk dairy, Swan Brothers in Claremore, did not come up for a vote, so for now the dairy will stay in business; but a new problem has emerged—one cow at the farm has been confirmed to have rabies and its milk was combined with milk from healthy cows and sold from December 4th through 19th. Health officials have expressed concern, urging people with certain medical conditions to contact their doctor to determine whether rabies shots are needed, but there are no documented cases of human rabies due to drinking milk from a rabid animal.
- Update, Fall 2004: Raw milk sales are legal in Oklahoma, but one raw milk farmer in Kingfisher has come under harassment by state officials. Kathy Gibb and Cathy Rott, Warr Acres chapter leaders, are following the situation.
- Update, Spring 2003: We have recently learned of Swan Brothers Dairy in Claremore, Oklahoma. They sell raw milk, cream and cheese from pastured animals. Their website is www.tiawah.com/swandairy.htm.
Raw goat or sheep milk sales are legal on the farm and in retail stores. No permit is necessary for farmers with no more than nine lactating goats and nine lactating sheep who sell the milk on the farm directly to the consumer. Raw cow milk sales are illegal except for on-farm sales where the farmer has two or fewer lactating cows on the premises. The state prohibits advertising for on-farm sales.
Farmers producing raw goat or sheep milk can sell in retail stores if they obtain a producer-distributor license and have their own bottling plant on site. Licensees can sell goat or sheep milk products such as butter, cream, yogurt, and cheese as well. There is one licensed goat milk farmer in the state at the present time.
- Update, Summer 2013: Raw Milk in Oregon, a first-person article by Charlotte Smith, a parent who discovered the benefits of raw milk for her family and progressed to becoming a raw milk producer and now, an advocate for higher raw milk production standards (as well as a Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter Leader).
- Update, Spring 2011: House Bill 2222 would allow the licensed sale of raw milk and raw milk products directly to consumers and to retail stores. Current law allows the unlicensed sale of raw milk on the farm by dairies with no more than two producing dairy cows, nine producing goats or nine producing sheep. The new bill would not affect this microdairy exception.
- Update, Spring 2008: Oregon residents recently lost an opportunity to have a plentiful supply of raw milk and raw milk products. On December 21, 2007, an administrative law judge held that the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) was within its legal authority when it placed under embargo one pound of raw butter at the warehouse of Azure Standard, a wholesale distributor located in Dufur. Until ODA placed the embargo on the butter, Azure Standard had been selling raw milk and raw milk products produced by Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) of Fresno, California. The OPDC products had been labeled “for cat or dog food only.” The issue before the judge was whether the ban on the sale of raw milk in Oregon extended to products for pet consumption. If the judge had ruled in Azure Standard’s favor, the Oregon market for raw milk and raw milk products would have opened up considerably. OPDC, at one time, sold raw dairy products to about forty retail stores in the state before the Oregon Attorney General issued an opinion in late 2005 that it was illegal to sell raw cow’s milk and products made from raw cow’s milk for pet consumption. Under current law, only farms with two or fewer lactating cows are exempt from the ban on the sale of raw cow’s milk.
- Update, Spring 2006: In response to the situation in Washington state, officials in Oregon pulled Organic Pastures raw milk labeled as “pet milk” from store shelves, even though pet milk sales are legal in Oregon. Raw milk is still available from small producers through on-farm sales.
- Update, Aug. 24, 2005: Oregon officials have requested a small change on the label to Organic Pastures milk, putting it on the front of the bottle and not on the cap. Raw milk as pet food is now available in about 40 stores.
- Update, Spring 2005: Oregon officials have requested a small change on the label to Organic Pastures milk, putting it on the front of the bottle and not on the cap. Raw milk as pet food is now available in about 40 stores.
- Update, Feb. 2, 2005: News from Southern Oregon. On Sunday, January 16, 2005, the Southern Oregon Chapter held a conference entitled Milk: Raw or Cooked; Farm Fresh or Pasteurized Pathogens. Your Choice. John Scileppi, L.Ac. , was host, and featured speaker was Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures Company, Fresno, California. Organic Pastures distributes raw milk products— milk, cheese, butter, cream, and colostrum—throughout California. In Oregon, Organic Pastures raw milk products are labeled and sold as pet food.Attendance at our Lake Creek Center, located about 30 minutes out of Medford, was excellent, with an enthusiastic audience of about 55. The conference included a sampling break to enjoy Mark McAfee’s generous supply of Organic Pastures product. At the meeting was Dr. Franklin Ross, who has the largest holistic healthcare practice in Southern Oregon. Dr. Ross was so impressed by Mark McAfee’s power point presentation and knowledgeable discussion that arrangements were made for Ken Anderson, Dr. Ross’s co-host, to interview Mark McAfee on their Friday morning radio show dealing with health care and airing weekly on 880 AM. The radio interview generated many, many phone calls, and both the interview and the conference brought Organic Pastures an overwhelming number of orders. Dr. Ross also arranged for his patients and colleagues to hear Mark McAfee speak that Friday evening in Ashland. Earlier, Kim Scileppi, Head of Southern Oregon Chapter, had informed the Portland and Eugene Chapters that Mark McAfee would be in Oregon, and both chapters arranged for Mark to speak, raising interest and raw milk education in these areas of Oregon as well.In Southern Oregon, since Mark’s visit, it is becoming more difficult to buy raw milk (or rather pet foot) because so many are now asking for it.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm and in retail stores. Raw milk for retail producers must have a permit and can only sell to stores if they have their own packaging operation with labeling and bottling machines. Stores purchasing raw milk from farmers for resale do not ordinarily need a permit. Producers selling raw milk only on the farm do not need bottling equipment because the state permits customers to bring their own containers.
The only raw milk product that licensees can sell legally is cheese. According to the Department of Agriculture, this is because the state has a standard of identity regulation only for raw cheese, not for any other raw dairy products. If a dairy product does not have a standard of identity regulation, the Department will not issue a permit for it.
- Update, Summer 2013: The Family Cow
- Update, July 29, 2012: The Sad Case of Pasture Maid Creamery (New Castle PA)
- Update, Spring 2012: Dan Allgyer Case
- Update, Spring 2012: The Family Cow
- Update, February 2012: Dan Allgyer Court Decision (138KB PDF)
- Update, Summer 2011: Dan Allgyer Case
- Update, Winter 2010: Good news from Pennsylvania! On October 7, the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) met to vote on whether to approve dairy regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). The proposed regulations contained burdensome requirements for raw milk producers including two particularly onerous provisions. First, the regulations would require a mechanical bottling machine for producers; with a limited exception, handcapping would be prohibited.Second, bottling, single-service container storage, and bottle washing would need to be done in rooms other than the milk room; currently, many raw milk producers in Pennsylvania bottle and handcap in the milk room and would have needed to incur the expense of constructing a separate room. Moreover, bottle washing would not be allowed in the room devoted to bottling and storage. Often, bodies such as the IRRC simply rubber-stamp proposed regulations into law with minimal debate. Not this time. Tom Maurer, president of CARE (Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-agriculture), and Bryan Snyder, the Executive Director of PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture), rallied their respective members against the proposed regulations. At the October 7 meeting, Snyder did a great job in explaining to the IRRC how PDA was misleading them when describing the effect the new regulations would have on raw milk producers. The committee chair for the IRRC pointed out that raw milk regulations should not be combined with Pennsylvania’s adoption of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (also known as the PMO), which is mainly what the proposed regulations had to do with. The IRRC voted three to two to reject the proposed regulations.On November 22, PDA submitted a revised version of the disapproved regulations to the IRRC. Although mechanical bottling and capping would not be required for milk sold on the farm, this would still be required for raw milk sold in retail stores. The revised regs still require that the washing of returnable bottles occur in a room separate from the milk room. Another provision that requires the raw milk producer be responsible for the costs of all pathogen testing (currently the testing is paid for by PDA) remains in the latest version of the regs. IRRC was scheduled to meet on December 16 to vote on whether to approve the revised regulations.
- Update, Fall 2009: The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has proposed new regulations to revise its Milk Sanitation code. Of interest to the state’s licensed raw milk farmers is a provision that requires testing at least twice a year for the presence of pathogenic bacteria including salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, campylobacter, and E. coli O157:H7. Under the proposed regulation, “there may be no pathogenic bacteria present.” If there is any pathogenic bacteria present in the tested milk, the permit holder must immediately stop selling raw milk for human consumption and must not resume selling until there have been two consecutive subsequent tests showing that the raw milk is free from “disease-producing organisms.” The trouble with the proposed regulation is that not all pathogenic bacteria cause illness in humans. A number of Pennsylvania farmers have had their sales suspended in the past few years for a positive pathogen test when there has been no incidence of illness from the consumption of the suspended farm’s milk. There are hundreds, even thousands, of subtypes of a pathogen like Listeria monocytogenes; and many, if not most, of these subtypes are benign. An effort will be made to change the language in the provision to read: “There shall be no positive test for the presence of pathogenic bacteria known to cause illness in humans.” In addition to this revision, an effort could be undertaken to amend the proposed regulations to provide for an exception to raw milk permit requirements for those selling direct to the consumer. The comment period for the proposed regulation was set to expire on September 30.
- Update, Summer 2009: Mark Nolt Case
- Update, Winter 2008–HENDRICKS FARM & DAIRY: Hendricks Farm and Dairy (HFD) is a grass-based organic raw milk dairy in Telford. The dairy boasts a state-of-the-art facility and has an impeccable track record with not a single positive pathogen test during its seven years of being licensed to sell raw milk. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has even sent people wanting to start a raw milk dairy to HFD to learn how to set one up the proper way. In addition to selling around 500 gallons of milk each week, the dairy also produces and sells raw milk cheese. HFD’s cheeses have won several American Cheese Society awards. What HFD owners, Trent and Rachel Hendricks, found out this past summer was that all of this meant nothing when the dairy came under suspicion by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and PDA as being the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak. Between September 1st and the 12th, 2008, the Pennsylvania Department of Health identified a total of seven confirmed cases of campylobacter infection among raw milk drinkers “in seven unrelated households in Pennsylvania and a neighboring state.” On September 11, the PDA came to obtain samples of milk from HFD. On that day the agency asked Trent to voluntarily suspend sales of raw milk; Trent refused and requested that the state not issue any press release until the test results were known. Ultimately, the agency took ten milk samples from the farm. To verify the accuracy of PDA’s testing, Trent took a split sample of each sample taken by PDA and sent them to an independent lab for testing. On September 12, PDA delivered a letter to Trent officially suspending his sales. The permit suspension letter stated, “The presence of the disease-producing organism Campylobacter in raw milk from Hendricks Farms and Dairy operation renders that milk unsafe, and is a violation of the requirement of the Milk Sanitation Law….” According to a guidance document issued by PDA, the agency must give a raw milk licensee at least five days advanced written notice of a raw milk permit suspension. The only way the agency can legally suspend a licensee’s sales before that time, other than the farmer agreeing to a voluntary suspension, is through a court order. PDA’s suspension letter to HFD on September 12 violated its own guidelines. [This was a busy day for the agency—that morning Bill Chirdon, Director of PDA’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services, and other agency employees raided Newville farmer Mark Nolt for a third time, once again confiscating thousands of dollars worth of food.] The afternoon of September 12, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a press release advising consumers “who purchased raw milk from Hendricks Farm & Dairy of Telford, Montgomery County, to immediately discard the raw milk and any items made with the raw milk due to potential bacterial contamination.” Even though there was no record of anyone getting sick from “any items made with the raw milk,” the advisory warned consumers to get rid of the farm’s raw milk cheeses as well. PDA lifted the suspension on September 19. All ten milk samples taken from the farm tested negative for campylobacter; an eleventh sample taken from an open container of milk purchased from HFD on August 30 tested positive for campylobacter. This was the only milk tested from which Trent was unable to get a split sample. Given the various possible ways it could have been contaminated, this sample would not have held up as evidence in a court of law. There was never any link established between the milk from the dairy and the campylobacter infection suffered by those who became ill. The suspension hurt HFD tremendously. Retail sales at the dairy were down by at least 20 percent compared to sales levels before the suspension. At the present time, Trent has not yet decided whether to sue PDA for the damage done to the farm’s reputation and business.
- Update, September 12, 2008: Mark Nolt Case
- Updates, Fall 2008: Mark Nolt Case and Glen Wise Case
- Updates, Summer 2008: Mark Nolt Case and Glen Wise Case
- Update, Winter 2007: Mark Nolt Case
- Action Alert, Aug. 12, 2007: Read about the Harassment of Raw Milk Farmers in Pennsylvania and New York
- Update, August 2007: Tensions are increasing between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and those farmers selling raw milk without a license exclusively to members of CARE (Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-Farming). PDA contends that anyone selling raw milk in the state is required to obtain a permit. The farmers argue that CARE is a private buyers club not subject to the state’s police power jurisdiction. The farmers also refuse to get a permit because they believe that PDA will transfer any information from their license application into USDA’s NAIS database. Recently, the PDA has stepped up action against unlicensed farmers; the Department has sent eight of the farmers warning letters informing them that selling raw milk without a permit is a violation of the law. PDA has brought charges against two of the farmers for selling raw milk without a permit, with one farmer being found guilty by a county magistrate and the other farmer scheduled to go to court at the end of May. Representatives from CARE and PDA have met to try to resolve their dispute but to this point have not reached an agreement.
- Update, Summer 2006: Raw milk dairy farmers and their customers have formed a private unincorporated association called Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-Farming (CARE) whose members, while recognizing the government’s right to protect the public, exercise their right to disagree and waive their right to the government’s protection in the areas of food production. CARE is designed to provide protection to farmers and consumers from both pasteurization regulations and the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The organization hopes to open up other CARE chapters in other states. For further information contact CARE at (717) 768-7848.
- Update, Fall 2004: The current government is sympathetic to raw milk and is issuing more raw milk permits—we have the list of permit-holders posted at realmilk.com. State officials are even honoring labor contracts that allow farmers to provide raw butter, cream, yogurt, cream cheese and kefir to customers. However, some farmers do find the permitting requirements onerous—such as the requirement to have a bottler on site—and many are selling raw milk products without permits.
- Update, Winter 2003: Raw Milk: Laying the Groundwork for the Future
- Update, Fall 2003: In Summer 2003 (see below) we reported on plans by the Division of Milk Sanitation of the Bureau of Food Safety of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to overhaul regulations regarding the sale of raw milk. Several farmers had been told by their inspectors that the new regulations would eliminate provisions for sale of raw milk in the State of Pennsylvania. Members of the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture then initiated a letter-writing campaign, culminating in a press release from Art Hershey, Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Agriculture Committee stating that the State had no plans to change the regulations regarding the sale of raw milk. When pressed, Mr. Hershey’s office said that plans to eliminate raw milk was nothing but a “rumor.” We think that our letter-writing campaign put a stop to plans to eliminate raw milk sales, about which the inspectors were apprised. We have yet to see the new proposed regulations but will keep our members informed of any changes that may affect raw milk sales in Pennsylvania.
- Update, Summer 2003: We received the following letter from Bobby McLean, in response to concerns regarding the sale of raw milk in Pennsylvania: July 7, 2003–This letter is written in response to your concerns regarding the sale of raw milk in Pennsylvania. Based on correspondence received, there appears to be considerable misinformation and concern over the raw milk issue. I will attempt to address these concerns in this letter. It is important to note there are no current or planned actions by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that will remove a dairy farmer’s right to sell raw milk or a consumer’s right to buy raw milk. However, all producers must have a permit from the Department and must follow the requirements of the permit. Further, the Department has no knowledge of any pending legislation to eliminate the sale of raw milk in Pennsylvania. The sale of raw milk in Pennsylvania is permitted under the Pennsylvania Milk Sanitation Law (31 P.S. Sec. 645 et. seq) (“Act”). This law is intended to safeguard human health and safety by providing for the issuance of permits to, and regulation of persons and entities selling milk and milk products. The Act (at 31 P.S. Sec. 646) states: “no person shall sell milk, milk product or manufactured dairy products within this Commonwealth without first having obtained a permit from the Secretary”. Another issue that many have raised relates to the sale of raw milk products. The law prohibits the sale of raw milk products except aged hard cheese which is cured at temperatures of not less that 35 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 60 days. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Jim Dell, Chief, Division of Milk Sanitation, at 717-787-4316. Your concerns are understood and we want to work together to help insure that milk and milk products sold in Pennsylvania are safe and wholesome. Sincerely, Bobby McLean
- Update, Summer 2003: Pennsylvania Raw Milk Regulations Scheduled for Overhaul–Late this fall the Division of Milk Sanitation of the Bureau of Food Safety of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is due to overhaul regulations regarding the sale of raw milk. Some farmers fear the intent will be to close existing “loopholes” that make sales of raw milk possible. It is therefore important to communicate with these state officials so that they know raw milk is important to us consumers. Letters or phone calls should be courteous, positive and non-confrontational (and you do not necessarily need to be from Pennsylvania to write or call). Do not mention specific suppliers as they might get in trouble.The officials are familiar with the arguments for raw milk, so the main point should be along the lines of (1) We love raw milk; (2) Thank you for your hard work as public officials; (3) We look forward to greater availability of raw milk and other raw dairy products like butter and yogurt in the future; and (4) We hope you can protect our rights as consumers to purchase from farmers we trust, and help ensure the livelihood of these small independent producers. Some relevant officials are: James Dell, Director of the Division of Milk Sanitation: 717-787-3233, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bobby McLean, director of the PA Bureau of Food safety: 717-787-4248, email@example.com; Dennis Wolff, Secretary of Agriculture: 717-772-2853, firstname.lastname@example.org; Art Hershey, Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Agriculture Committee: 717-783-6435, email@example.com
Raw milk sales are illegal with one exception: An individual may purchase raw goat milk from a producer if that person has a written, signed prescription from a physician. According to the state Department of Health, no one has ever taken advantage of this provision in the law.
- Update, Spring 2013: Senate Bill 15 would legalize the licensed sale of raw milk. The state milk commission would issue regulations detailing expiration dates, warning labels, and signage requirements where raw milk is sold. Those farmers selling less than twenty quarts a day would not have to obtain a permit. The bill was referred to the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm and, to a limited extent, in retail stores. Farmers must obtain a permit and can only sell raw milk, not raw milk products. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control prohibits the sale of any processed raw dairy product. Advertising is legal.
A retail store can only sell raw milk if the store does not fall under the regulatory definition of a “food service establishment.” Under current law, only convenience stores “which offer for sale prepackaged food” . and “engage in limited preparation of nonpotentially hazardous food” are outside this definition.
Details: At the present time, there are nine licensed raw milk producers in the state, five producing cow milk and four producing goat milk.In 2003, there were four licensed producers, and raw goat milk was available in a number of health food stores.
- Update, Fall 2011—Tucker Adkins Dairy: A prime example of FDA bias against raw milk occurred in South Carolina at the expense of Tucker Adkins Dairy. On July 16, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release stating that three confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis in North Carolina were associated with the consumption of raw milk obtained on June 14, 2011 from Tucker Adkins Dairy of York, South Carolina. As far as is known, public health officials investigating the outbreak did not look for other possible causes of illness after discovering that the three individuals drank raw milk.FDA issued the press release prior to receiving test results of a milk sample the agency had taken from a container obtained on June 14 by one of the individuals allegedly ill from the milk. Any threat of illness from the milk produced by the dairy had already passed by the time FDA issued its press release. The agency could have waited until the test results were in but did not. Shortly after the press release was issued, FDA acknowledged the milk suspected of harboring campylobacter tested negative. FDA’s press release was more a statement of its policy on raw milk and did nothing to promote or advance the public health; the agency’s accusations against the dairy were based more on its position that “no one should drink raw milk at any time for any reason” than on any evidence.Contrast the actions of FDA with those of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the agency that has the hands-on responsibility for insuring that Tucker Adkins Dairy produces a safe product. The department could have suspended the dairy’s license or suspended raw milk sales if it suspected the dairy was responsible for making people sick; it did not.The department took two samples of its own, each of which tested negative for campylobacter. DHEC found that the dairy did nothing wrong. In its seven years of operating as a licensed dairy, Tucker Adkins Dairy has never been cited for a violation by the department nor has a complaint ever been made against the dairy for the raw milk it produces.Like FDA, the department advises the public that raw milk has inherent risk and that all milk should be consumed pasteurized. Unlike FDA, DHEC waits until the facts are in and does not carry out an anti-raw milk action at the expense of the reputation of a hardworking family farm.
- Update, Winter 2008: The DHEC (Dept of Health and Environmental Control) just approved sale of raw milk at retail establishments. It requires a warning label on the milk and a poster at the point of sale. Also, it must be sold away from pasteurized milk (in a separate section or another refrigerator).
- Update, Spring 2008: The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recently approved the sale of raw milk at retail establishments. DHEC is requiring that raw milk sold in retail stores have a warning label and that it be displayed in a location separate from pasteurized milk. Prior to the agency’s policy change, raw milk sales had been mainly limited to on the farm.
- Update, Fall 2004: Laws are favorable in this state. For example, Split Creek Farms in Anderson sells raw milk from their herd of 300 goats. The dairy is Grade A certified and owners Evin Evans and Patricia Bell note that acquiring a permit to sell raw milk is neither difficult nor expensive. The law can even be interpreted to allow retail sales. Rosewood Market and Deli in Columbia sells raw milk from a back room.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm and through home delivery. Even though the state has adopted the Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (including Section 9 of the PMO which only permits the sale of pasteurized milk to the final consumer) it has created a statutory exemption for raw milk, cream, skim milk or goat milk occasionally secured or purchased for his personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced.” and for a “farm producer of milk, selling and delivering his own production direct to consumers only.”
Farmers are responsible for bottling the milk and must have a milk plant license in order to be able to use bottling equipment on their farm. They must clearly label each container as “raw milk.” According to the state Department of Agriculture, there are no farmers selling raw milk on any noticeable scale at the present time.
- Update, Summer 2013: Proposed Raw Milk Regulations in Illinois and South Dakota
- Update, Fall 2010: HB1057 enacted into law
- Update, Spring 2010: HB1057 proposed
- Update, Winter 2009: Proposed raw milk regulations in SD
- Update, Winter 2008: The DHEC (Dept of Health and Environmental Control) just approved sale of raw milk at retail establishments. It requires a warning label on the milk and a poster at the point of sale. Also, it must be sold away from pasteurized milk (in a separate section or another refrigerator).
Raw milk sales for human consumption are illegal. The state Department of Agriculture has interpreted “sale” to even cover giving away raw milk and raw milk products. In 2003, a state representative introduced a bill to legalize raw milk, but the Tennessee Senate Agricultural Committee voted the bill down and it never reached the floor of the legislature.
Raw milk and raw milk product sales for pet consumption are legal, even though the state animal feed laws contain no specific provision about raw dairy products. Producers and sellers must obtain a commercial feed license from the state.
- Update, Spring 2011: House Bill 898 seeks to clarify Tennessee’s “cowshare” law. The bill simply states that no law “shall be construed as prohibiting the independent or partial owner of any hooved animal from using the milk from the animal or a dairy product made from such milk for the owner’s personal consumption or other personal use.” Current law provides that the milk from the animal can be used for the owner’s personal use but does not mention the right to have that milk processed into other dairy products.
- Update, Summer 2009–VICTORY IN TENNESSEE: A bill formally legalizing cowshares has been passed by both the State House of Representatives and the Senate and signed into law by Governor Phil Bredesen on May 21. The bill simply states that nothing in the law “shall be construed as prohibiting the independent or partial owner of any hoofed mammal from using the milk from such animal for the owner’s personal consumption or other use.” The House sponsor of the bill was Frank Nicely (R-Knoxville, District 17); the Senate sponsor was Mike Faulk (R-Kingsport, District 4). Congratulations to Brentwood WAPF Chapter Leader Shawn Dady and Tennesseans for Raw Milk (www.tennesseansforrawmilk.com) for their persistent efforts—-spanning several years-—in getting this legislation passed. Details: Raw milk sales are illegal except as pet food. For a period, state authorities harassed dairy farmers selling raw milk and milk products labeled as pet food but this seems to have died down. There are a number of cowshare programs in the state and a committee working on changing the law to allow on-farm sales. Read an update from Jenny Drake of Peaceful Pastures and more about the effort to legalize raw milk sales in Tennessee. Find out more at www.tennesseansforrawmilk.com.
- Update, Spring 2009: The Dairy Farmers Prosperity Act (HB 1360 and SB 1899) would allow the unlicensed direct sale from producer to consumer at the farm as long as the farmer does not advertise and the consumers bring their own containers. HB 1360 is now before the House Committee on Agriculture; SB1899 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Agriculture.
- Update, Fall 2005: Sally Fallon and Frank Sanders testified before a House agriculture committee in favor of a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk on September 14, after the committee heard from microbiologists and industry representatives who opposed the bill. Representative Frank Nicely, a sponsor of the bill, explained how the current law was passed specifically to put one successful raw milk farmer out of business. Tennessee once had almost 10,000 small dairy farms and now has less than 1000. The landscape is littered with defunct farms and dilapidated dairy barns. Sanders specifically addressed the benefits that raw milk sales can bring to the local economy. Shawn Dady has spearheaded the effort to reinstate the sale of raw milk and put together an excellent bill that can be a model for other states.
- Update, Winter 2004: Spurred on by the efforts of chapter leader Shawn Dady, a bill to legalize sales of raw milk from small herds is being prepared for the Tennessee House Agriculture Committee. A big supporter of the bill is pop and country music superstar Lee Ann Rimes, which should help gain favorable publicity for the bill.
- Update, Fall 2004: Shawn Dady, our Brentwood chapter leader, continues to work with a state representative and state senator to present a bill legalizing raw milk sales. She is also working on a raw milk commercial that could be used in any state.
- Update, Spring 2003: Shawn Dady is working with legislatures to make raw milk legal in the state. At a recent meeting, the health departemnt brought in an “expert” from the University of Tennessee who described the diseases that could be carried in raw milk. As a fall back position, the committee is now looking into the legality of cowshare programs—which are already being set up inTennessee. For further information contact Shawn at 615-661-7699 or visit www.tennesseansforrawmilk.com.
- Update, Fall 2002: To date, we have two state representatives working to introduce new legislation this session to change the law in Tennessee to allow farmers to sell their own produce directly to the public. We are going to have a “listening session” in November to educate all farmer-friendly legislators on the raw milk issue and farmer’s rights issues in general. Jenny Drake of Peaceful Pastures will be there to share her expertise on the issue and a couple of veterinarians who are knowledgeable on the issue and who support raw dairy sales will be there to speak as well. Our legislators plan to invite other representatives to the session, including house members, senators, and committee chairmen, in an effort to gain support for the measure. Hopefully this will get the ball rolling in a big way. What you can do to help: If you live in Tennessee, contact the legislators for your district, both house and senate members, and tell them you support the small farmer’s right to sell the products of his own farm directly to the public. Let them know that you want to be able to purchase produce, all produce including dairy, poultry, and beef directly from the farmer. You could call or fax them. Believe me, they listen to you. For a listing of your representatives, click www.legislature.state.tn.us. This will take you to the Tennessee General Assembly web site where you can choose Senate or House, and then choose “Members” and then choose the “Clickable Image Map.” Once you do that, you can click on your district to see who is your representative. THANKS! We need everyone to do all that they can to get this measure passed.
- Action Alert, Sept. 30, 2002: Peaceful Pastures in Tennessee Needs Your Help
Raw milk sales are legal. Sales must be on the farm and can only be directly to the consumer. Farmers must obtain a Grade A Raw for Retail Milk Permit from the state Department of Health. Licensees can sell milk products such as raw cream and raw yogurt as well. There are currently 13 retail raw milk licensees: 11 selling raw goat milk and raw goat milk products, and two selling raw cow milk (Sand Creek Farms and Stryk Farms).
Raw goat milk producers can also obtain an animal feed license. They get the license from the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Service, a branch of the Office of the State Chemist. Goat milk producers with an animal feed license must have their products contain a label with the statement “For Animal Feed Only.” In addition, all raw goat milk products for animal feed must contain a blue dye.
- Update, Spring 2013: Current law only allows the sale by a licensed dairy at the farm where the raw milk is produced. House Bill 46 would expand the places where raw milk could be sold to the consumer’s residence and other venues such as a farmers market, farm stand, flea market or fair. The bill would only prohibit the sale or delivery of raw milk to a grocery store, supermarket, or “similar retail market.” There is a labeling provision requiring a warning statement.
- Update, Sept. 23, 2011: Hard Lessons Learned in Texas Raw Milk Fight
- Update, Spring 2011: HB75 would expand the venues where licensed dairy farmers can sell raw milk and raw cheese aged sixty days or more. Currently, licensees can only sell raw milk on the farm. The new law would enable the farmer to sell directly to a consumer at the consumer’s residence or “any other location where producers customarily sell their products directly to consumers” (such as at farmers’ markets, farmstands). DairyMax, a regional dairy promotion organization, violated the law by running ads attacking raw milk to discourage support of the bill. Federal law only allows dairy check-off fees to go toward promoting milk and milk products.
- Update, Fall 2004: Raw milk sales are growing in Texas, where they are technically legal at the farm; raw milk is even is showing up in farmers’ markets. Lee Dexter of White Egret Farms, a dairy selling raw goat milk and cheese, is working with a law firm on the constitutional issues involving raw milk sales.
- Update, Fall 2002: White Egret Farm
Raw milk sales are legal either on the farm or in a retail store owned by the producer of the milk. Sales can be made only to the final consumer. Cowshares are illegal.
Raw milk producers must obtain a permit from the Department of Agriculture. State law requires producers to bottle the milk on the premises where produced and to label each bottle “raw milk.” Farmers cannot sell raw milk products except for block cheese that has been produced according to federal specifications. Farmers can sell the block cheese on the farm, in retail stores or for wholesale distribution.
- Update, April 4, 2007: Tracking the Trojan Cow–A Rotten Milk Bill in Utah (Redmond Salt CEO Creates Cowshare Ban in Utah Bill)
- Update, Spring 2007: Sales of raw milk at the farm are legal in Utah and several dairies now sell raw milk to satisfy increasing consumer demand. A recent bill allowing the sale of raw milk at an off-site retail store passed both the Utah House and Senate in February. Unfortunately, this bill will not necessarily make raw milk more available to consumers, as it favors only one large dairy, belonging to a corporation that owns an off-site store. (The bill requires 51 percent ownership of the store, something most small dairies can’t afford.) In addition, the bill outlaws cowshare programs—an ominous trend. We will be watching this situation closely to see whether the new legislation will adversely impact raw milk availability in Utah.
- Update, Spring 2006: A legislative committee has approved a bill—HB69, sponsored by Representative Brad Johnson, R-Aurora— to allow raw milk sales in stores. “The bill would allow the 20 percent of the population that is lactose intolerant with a choice,” says Johnson, a rancher. Utah County chapter leader Katie Bush, a registered nurse and mother of a child who has allergic reactions to pasteurized milk, testified on the beneficial effects of raw milk on her son’s health. The Utah Dairymen’s Association is firmly opposed to the bill, as is the Utah Public Health Association, but the Utah Department of Health has taken a neutral position, expressing some reservations but also recognizing a legitimate demand for raw milk. Stay tuned for developments.
- Update, Oct. 28, 2004 from Winford J. Barlow of Finney Farm Home Dairy: We have been the only certified dairy, to my knowledge, in Utah, for the last two years and we have received nothing but support from the health department. The dairy inspectors have been very workable and knowledgeable. Thorough and strict, yes, but it has only helped us provide a better product. I believe the dairy referred to was in Fairview, Utah, and was out of business before we got our certification. We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and want only the best for our customers. Please correct this error so the people of Utah won’t be misinformed.Tyler Carver is working on setting up a “farm share” program in Utah. He has located a willing farmer and tapped into plenty of interest. For more information, or to lend him a helping hand, contact Tyler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 366-0472.
- Update, Spring 2003: Tyler Carver is working on setting up a “farm share” program in Utah. He has located a willing farmer and tapped into plenty of interest. For more information, or to lend him a helping hand, contact Tyler at email@example.com or (801) 366-0472.
Rural Vermont, a nonprofit advocacy group for farmers, has been working with a statewide network of farmers and customers to make it easier to buy and sell raw milk in Vermont since 2005. In 2008, the Vermont legislature passed a law that increased the quantity of raw milk that could be sold daily from the farm from 25 to 50 quarts. This work also resulted in the lifting of an advertising ban that had been imposed the state’s Agency of Agriculture.
In 2009, the Unpasteurized (Raw) Milk bill was passed and enacted into law on July 1, 2009. This progressive legislation legitimizes raw milk, acknowledges that the locally-based food system requires different rules than those established for industrial food, and recognizes that raw milk sales are an incredible economic opportunity for farmers and that there is a growing and significant demand among consumers. It creates a tiered regulatory system that is defined by the quantity of milk being sold. Tier 1 producers can sell up to 50 quarts (12 1/2 gallons) per day from the farm, and Tier 2 producers can sell up to 40 gallons per day between on-farm sales and home delivery to prepaid customers. It establishes a set of reasonable and basic standards that ALL raw milk producers must follow, thereby ensuring a clean and safe raw milk supply.
A few examples: animals must be healthy, milking equipment must be cleaned and sanitized, milk must be cooled quickly, and farmers must maintain a daily transaction record. Those operating as Tier 2 producers must follow some additional requirements, including registration with and inspection by the VT Agency of Agriculture and regular milk testing. Regardless of the total quantity of milk being sold, any farmer can operate as a Tier 2 producer as long as s/he is following the Tier 2 requirements – this may be of interest to farmers who want to deliver smaller quantities of milk.
If you are a farmer interested in selling raw milk in Vermont, a detailed seller’s guide can be downloaded here: ruralvermont.org./issues/milk/2009/sellersguidelarge.pdf. And if you are a consumer interested in buying raw milk in Vermont, you can get more info here: ruralvermont.org./issues/milk/2009/consumerfactsheet.pdf. More info about Rural Vermont, the Raw Milk Campaign, and getting involved in local efforts to secure raw milk rights can be found here: ruralvermont.org.
- Update, Spring 2013: Senate Bill 70 would allow the sale of raw milk at farmers markets. Current law only allows the sale on the farm or by delivery from the producer.
- Update, Summer 2009: H125, a bill that would increase the amount of raw milk dairy farmers can sell from the current 12.5 gallons a day to 40 gallons, has passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bill establishes standards for the sale of raw milk for all producers with additional standards being required of those farms selling more than 12.5 gallons per day. Any farm that complies with the additional standards can sell milk through delivery as well. Under current law, sales can only be made at the farm. The additional standards include an annual inspection by the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets and twice monthly testing by an FDA-accredited laboratory. All farms selling raw milk will now be required to register with the State regardless of the volume they sell.
- Update, Summer 2009: A bill that would increase the availability of raw milk is close to passage in Vermont. The collapse in pay prices for conventional dairies appears to have made some state legislators recognize the fact that raw milk sales or distribution can be a viable way for dairy farmers to make a living.
- Update, Spring 2008: A bill (H616) to liberalize the sale of raw milk is before the House Agriculture Committee. H616, “The Farm Fresh Milk Restoration Act of 2008,” would permit farmers who have been certified by a local certification committee to sell unlimited quantities of raw milk on the farm and through delivery. Certified farmers would also have the right to advertise. Under current law, farmers can sell no more than 25 quarts of raw milk a day on the farm and are not permitted to advertise. H616 has over sixty sponsors. Rural Vermont, an organization dedicated to supporting the state’s family farms, has been the driving force behind the bill.
Raw milk sales are illegal. According to the State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service, there are two cowshare programs operating in Virginia, one of which has state approval. Cowshares are available through the Herndon Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
- Update, Spring 2006: The Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA) is organizing support for HB124, which would ensure on-farm sales of farm products, and opposition to HB982, which would allow the state to control and even eliminate backyard chicken flocks and small grass-based poultry operators without public participation or even a governor’s signature. Proponents of HB982 cite the “threat” of avian flu and outdoor poultry markets, but Joel Salatin, president of VICFA, compares the proposed legislation to a police state.
- Update, Fall 2005: Raw milk activists Kathryn Russell, Joel Salatin, Christine Solem, Geoffrey Morell, Sally Fallon and others testified before a committee considering farm gate sales issues on August 31. New legislation now makes the sale of unaged raw cheeses illegal. Solem testified that she is giving away the cheese with donation requests at farmers markets and making more money—for which she collects no sales tax—than she did when she was selling the cheese.
- Update, Summer 2005: Within the space of a few short weeks, Kathryn Russell of the Charlottesville chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation put together a rousing raw milk meeting on June 22 as a prelude to a meeting with the Virginia Farm Bureau, a powerful lobbying group that sets agricultural policy in the state of Virginia. Almost 300 people heard Mark McAfee, founder of Organic Pastures dairy in California, Ron Schmid, ND, author of The Untold Story of Milk and other speakers extol the value of raw milk, not only for health benefits, but as a way to revive small family farms. The following day, McAfee met with officials of the Farm Bureau, gave a one-hour powerpoint presentation on the superlative safety record of raw milk in California and received an enthusiastic reception. The door has been opened to the legalization of raw milk sales in Virginia (and meanwhile, cowshare programs are flourishing.) Thank you Kathryn for your remarkable organizational skills!
- Update, Spring 2005: It was Lt. Governor Kaine who broke the tie on legislation that would have allowed fresh goat cheese to be sold on farms in Virginia, voting against and killing the legislation for this year. Justifying his actions through the buzz words “public safety,” Kaine said that public safety concerns “outweighed the need for the state to create an atmosphere in which small businesses and family farms can thrive.” With reactionary anti-raw milk legislation now on the books, Virginia bureaucrats are going after independent dairy farms (those that do not sell in bulk to processors), harassing Bergey’s Dairy—which has been in business for 70 years—with unreasonable misdemeanor charges. The small independent dairy provides free home delivery for pasteurized milk in glass bottles and is one of only two dairies left in Virginia that own and operate a milk-processing plant.
- Update, Winter 2004: A law signed by Governor Warner goes into effect on January 29 that would not only make it illegal to sell raw milk cheese produced locally on the farm, but also to even give raw milk from your own cow to your children! Yet the State of Virginia has never had a confirmed case of illness cause by raw milk or raw-milk products. Some activists are mounting a counterattack, working with a legislator to introduce a bill exempting all on-farm production and processing from inspection and prohibiting restraints on on-farm sales. Meanwhile, the state recognizes that raw milk can be made available to cow owners through cowshare programs.
- Update, Fall 2004: Cowshare programs are proliferating. A recent article in the Winchester Star (10/27/04) highlighted the cowshare program of Hedgebrook Farm in Frederick County.
- Update, Fall 2003: Proposed regulations adopted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), effective January 1, 2004 will wipe out small cheese producers in Virginia unless amendments are added to exempt farmers producing cheese from the milk of their own animals and selling it directly to consumers on the farm and at farmers markets. These regulations were adopted even though no evidence was presented that direct farmer-to-consumer cheese sales have caused any problems in Virginia. Bowing to intense pressure from small farmers, the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules ordered mediation between VDACS and the small farmers to work out such an exemption before the Commission’s next meeting in November. With the concurrence of the Governor, this Commission has the power to suspend the effective date of the regulation until after the 2004 Virginia General Assembly meets, so that further legislative changes may be made to the regulations if a compromise is not reached concerning exemptions. Even if you do not live in Virginia, we urge you to phone or email Governor Warner and tell him you are opposed to these regulations unless exemptions are included for farmers selling farm-produced cheese directly to consumers on the farm and at farmers’ markets. Contact the governor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-786-2000.
Raw milk sales are legal on the farm and through home delivery. They are legal in retail stores as well if local health ordinances do not prohibit.
Producers must obtain a permit from the State Department of Agriculture. This requirement applies to any farmer operating a cowshare program. Farmers must bottle the milk on the premises and each bottle must contain a warning label stating “WARNING:This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria. Pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons with lowered resistance to disease have the highest risk of harm from use of this product. “Retail stores must display warning signs near the location of raw milk and raw milk products in the store.
The Department of Agriculture currently limits the raw dairy products licensees can sell to milk and cream. Producers can sell raw milk for animal consumption if they put coloring in the milk. There is currently one retail raw milk licensee in the state.
- Update, Spring 2013: Estrella Family Creamery case
- Update, Winter 2012: Estrella Family Creamery case
- Update, Spring 2011: Legislation has been introduced that would exempt from regulation on-farm raw milk sales if the farm has no more than two producing cows, nine producing goats, or nine producing sheep. Current law allows the sale of raw milk only by licensed dairies.
- Update, Winter 2010: Estrella Family Creamery case
- Update, Winter 2008–WASHINGTON: DEE CREEK FARM: In December 2005, some shareholders in Dee Creek Farm’s cowshare program became sick from E. coli O157:H7. The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) linked the illnesses to the consumption of raw milk produced by the farm and severely punished its owners, Michael and Anita Puckett. The agency placed an embargo on the cows at the farm that lasted over a year, costing the Pucketts around $15,000 in feed bills before WSDA finally gave the couple permission to slaughter the cows. In addition, the agency levied $8000 in fines against the couple. It took two years for the Pucketts to resolve their case with WSDA. Unfortunately for the couple, some of their shareholders were from Oregon. Not missing an opportunity to create a chilling effect on farmers producing raw milk, FDA was able to convince the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Washington to launch a criminal investigation of the couple for violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) in the fall of 2007. Faced with indictment by a grand jury and worn out by the ordeal with the State of Washington, the Pucketts accepted a plea bargain from the U.S. Attorney proposing that each plead guilty to one count of distributing adulterated food in interstate commerce. The public defenders representing the Pucketts and the U.S. Attorney agreed on a sentence of a $250 fine and a minimum of one year probation for each defendant. At the sentencing hearing on September 5, 2008, Federal Magistrate Judge Karen L. Strombom rejected the plea bargain that had been struck, giving each defendant the following sentence: no fine, no probation, and six months to pay a mandatory $25 court assessment fee. In pronouncing sentence on the defendants, the judge said their guilty plea was “sufficient punishment.” She stated, “I don’t see how we accomplish anything by having these two people put on probation. I just don’t get it.” Nancy Tenney, the public defender representing Anita, had done research and found that the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Washington had not taken on a single food adulteration case going back at least eight years. In the mid-nineties, when three children in that district had died (and hundreds of people had become sick) from consuming the undercooked meat from the Jack-in-the-Box food chain, this same office did not bring any criminal charges against the chain for causing the foodborne outbreak, despite a finding by the Washington State Department of Public Health that Jack-in-the-Box had clearly violated federal food safety standards by its practice of undercooking meat. Judge Strombom saw the case brought by FDA and the U.S. Attorney for the unwarranted agenda-driven prosecution that it was. After three years of undeserved persecution and harassment by the state and federal government as well as by local media, the Pucketts had at last received some measure of justice. Hopefully, they will be able to carry on with their lives in peace. Today the Plunketts hold nine different permits from WSDA, including permits to sell raw milk and raw cheese.
- Update, February 2007: Washington Raw Milk Campaign
- Update, Winter 2006: Things are at a standstill regarding the situation with Dee Creek Farm (see Spring 2006 update below). The state is threatening an administrative fine, but the Pucketts are continuing to farm and are in the process of obtaining their Grade A license. All of the children afflicted with E. coli O157H7are back to normal. Meanwhile, the number of dairies licensed to sell raw milk has skyrocketed, from 15 to 60 in the last eight months. Raw milk is widely available throughout the state, and sold in many retail stores. Check the listings for Washington at realmilk.com.
- Update, Spring 2006: E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Washington State: Lessons Learned
- Update, Summer 2006: The status of the working group for micro-dairies—promised during recent negotiations that resulted in licensing for cowshare arrangements—is unclear. Predictably, dairy officials have avoided taking any initiative while activists remain in the dark. However, the good news is that raw milk is becoming more and more available in Washington State, even in stores, through licensed dairies, big and small, with much thanks to Emmy McAllister and other local chapter leaders for organizing pick-up locations and persuading retail outlets to carry it. Check the recently revised listing for Washington at realmilk.com for a source near you.
- Update, Fall 2005: The Center for Justice has agreed to defend cowshare programs in the state of Washington. Although the state recently liberalized its regulations to make it easier to sell raw milk, officials are now insisting that even farmers using cowshare programs obtain a Grade A permit, which can be expensive. George Calvert is spearheading the effort to have cowshares exempted from these onerous requirements.
- Update, Summer 2005: Christine Gregoire, the new governor, signed the new manual bottling law on May 12, 2005. Now small farmers will be able to become Grade A dairies and sell raw milk without having to buy a $100,000 piece of machine bottling equipment.You might want to send a thank-you email to Claudia G. Coles, Food Safety Program Manager, Department of Agriculture, who created the wording for the law and found legislators to sponsor it. Her email is email@example.com.
- Update, Spring 2005: Great progress was made in March at a Food Entrepreneur Conference sponsored by Washington State University. Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy and pasture-framing pioneer Joel Salatin spoke to a large and enthusiastic crowd. Claudia Coles of the Washington State Department of Agriculture stated publicly that she supports the safe production of raw milk and will ensure that it is easy and inexpensive to obtain a raw milk permit. The legislature has passed a law, currently before the governor for signing, that will allow hand-capping and hand-bottling of raw milk. Current law requires very expensive bottling machines for raw milk producers.
- Update, Winter 2004: The Washington State Department of Agriculture is trying to pass legislation removing the prohibition on producers hand-capping bottles of milk. Senate Bill 5039 would obviously make running a business cheaper for a raw milk retailer. A spokesperson for the Division of Food Safety in the department also stated that the state welcomed taking on more retail raw milk licensees. Retail raw milk, raw milk for further processing and raw milk for animal feed are all legal types of raw milk sales within the state of Washington as long as the producer/processor is legally licensed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
- Update, Spring 2003: We have reported on the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) efforts to prohibit cow sharing programs they once endorsed. However, during court proceedings Judge Cheryl Daniels acknowledged that bona fide owners of a milk producer license may consume raw milk directly from the farm. With financial help from the Weston A. Price Foundation, a model corporation has been set up at Clearview Acres in Hayward, Wisconsin. Those desiring raw milk can become nonvoting members of a corporation holding a Grade A license in the dairy operation of a farm. The language of this corporation will be made available to farmers throughout the country for a modest fee and then can be tailored to the particular state. The completion of these documents has generated intense interest and we are hopeful that this model will be used to bring dairy farmers and raw milk consumers together in many states. For more information, contact the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, farmtoconsumer.org, (703) 208-FARM (3276), firstname.lastname@example.org .
Raw milk sales are illegal.
Wisconsin law states that, “no person may sell or distribute any milk or fluid milk products which are not Grade A milk or Grade A milk products to consumers, or to any restaurant, institution or retailer for consumption or resale to consumers. Grade A milk and Grade A milk products shall be effectively pasteurized.. “The law does provide an exception to the ban on raw milk consumption for “incidental sales of milk directly to consumers at the dairy farm where the milk is produced. “The administrative regulation for the State Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) states that the “incidental sales” exemption “shall not apply to sales which are regularly made in the course of business or are preceded by any advertising, offer to or solicitation of members of the public, but shall include any sales to employees or persons shipping milk to the dairy plant’
State regulations define “person” as “an individual, partnership, firm, association, corporation.”
In a 2002 court decision, an administrative law judge further expanded what would constitute sales to “persons” under the “incidental sales” exemption. The case before the judge concerned the legality of cowshare agreements. While ruling that cowshare agreements were illegal, the judge did find that DATCP’s interpretation of the “incidental sales” exemption “clearly allows regular distribution of ungraded raw milk to the “persons” shipping the milk and their employees. The person shipping milk includes the underlying owners, if the entity holding the milk producer license is a partnership, association, corporation, firm or any other legal business entity.”
In response to this decision, two farms obtained permission from the State Department of Financial Institution (DFI) to issue shares to their customers giving them part ownership in the “entity holding the milk producer license,” enabling the shareholders to purchase raw milk and raw milk products.
DATCP responded to the farm’s distribution of shares with a request to the judge seeking a further clarification of her finding that the underlying owners of the milk producer license could purchase raw milk and raw milk products on a regular basis.
In 2004, the judge issued a final order, holding that agreements sharing ownership in the milk producer license would enable shareholders to take a share of the ungraded raw milk produced if the following conditions were met:
- “Investments in entities holding milk producer licenses must be for the purpose of holding a milk producer license, using milking animals to produce milk for sale or distribution in the public, human food chain. Disclosure agreements for this investment must include this as the purpose for the investment.”
- “Investments in entities holding milk producer licenses may not be solely for the purpose of purchasing non-pasteurized milk or milk products.”
- “The more limited the ownership in the milk producer license, the more the specific investment amount must be tied to the benefit amount received by the limited shareholders.”
- “The shareholder may be required to share or assume the risk of losing their investment in the entity holding the milk producer license.”
- “Disclosure agreements for investments must include the risks of ownership in the entity holding the milk producer license, including the investment risks and the risks of taking any product as a benefit of ownership, as specified in the decision.”
- “Milk and milk product preparation, handling, storage and distribution amongst owners must be physically separate from any food preparation, handling, storage, distribution and sales to the public on the premises.”
In her final order, the judge made clear that if a farm sold milk and milk products exclusively to its shareholders (owners) and not to a milk plant or any other distributor, DATCP would not regulate the production and usage of dairy products from that farm.
- Update, Summer 2013: Vernon Hershberger Case
- Update, Spring 2013: Vernon Hershberger Case
- Update, Winter 2012: Vernon Hershberger case
- Update, Fall 2012: The Wisconsin Raw Milk Association (WRMA) is a small grassroots group of farmers and consumers committed to changing the raw milk laws in Wisconsin. The WRMA is presently working to pass a law legalizing the sale of raw milk and raw milk products, while ensuring a safe supply. WRMA is actively negotiating to get legislation introduced and passed that would legalize on-farm sales of raw milk. This would not only make on farm sales legal but would also further protect private food clubs. There are only a handful of producers, a small number of consumers and one lobbyist doing this work. The opposition has many lobbyists and financial supporters, a well-developed marketing campaign, an apathetic public, DATCP, public health professionals and the despotic federal agencies. Andrew Mastrocola, Jefferson/Waukesha Chapter Leader, and others are spending much time and their own limited money to help this situation. They are calling for help. If you are able to donate to their efforts, see http://pledgie.com/campaigns/17430
- Update, Fall 2012: Vernon Hershberger case
- Update, Summer 2012: Vernon Hershberger case
- Update, Spring 2012: Vernon Hershberger case
- Update, Spring 2012: SB108
- Press Release, March 6, 2012: Farmer accused of selling raw milk stays free
- Read earlier updates from Pete Kennedy, Tim Wightman, and the MilkDirect Program in Wisconsin.
Raw milk sales are illegal.
- Update, Spring 2013: Senate File 112 would allow the sale of raw milk by a producer possessing a small herd permit. A small herd is defined as no more than three lactating cows, seven lactating goats or seven lactating sheep. Those with the permit could sell on the farm and at retail stores. SF 112 did not make it out of committee.
- Update, Winter 2012: New Wyoming Herdshare Regulation
- Update, Spring 2011: Legislation (HB0017) was introduced that would have legalized cowshare, goatshare and herdshare contracts—“herd” being defined as no more than five lactating cows or ten lactating goats. There’s currently no law prohibiting herdshares; however, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture views raw milk distribution through share programs as being the illegal sale of raw milk and recently sent “cease and desist” letters to several farmers it suspected of operating shareholder dairies.
- Update, Spring 2009: HB0193, the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, passed out of the House Committee on Agriculture, State and Public Lands & Water Resources and is now up for general floor vote in the House. The bill exempts—from any state licensing, certification or inspection requirements—sales of food from producers or processors directly to the end consumer “at farmers’ markets, roadside stands” and at the ranch or farm. Raw milk and raw milk products would be foods covered by the bill. The sale of raw milk is currently prohibited in Wyoming.
Articles on State Availability (Also linked under state updates above)
- Proposed Raw Milk Regulations in Illinois and South Dakota October 11, 2013
- North Dakota Herdshare Bill Signed Into Law October 11, 2013
- Arkansas Raw Milk Bill Signed Into Law October 11, 2013
- Raw Milk in Oregon August 18, 2013
- New Wyoming Herdshare Regulation December 24, 2012
- AB1735 California Coliform Standard December 17, 2012
- Hard Lessons Learned in Texas Raw Milk Fight September 23, 2011
- Real Milk in South Dakota December 31, 2009
- How We Did It in North Carolina September 30, 2008
- Fallon-Morell Testimony on AB1735 April 15, 2008
- Herdshare Arrangements Ruled Legal in Ohio March 15, 2007
- Washington Raw Milk Campaign February 1, 2007
- Kentucky and Ohio: Raw Milk Battleground July 26, 2006
- Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes, Page 5 December 1, 2004
- Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes, Page 4 December 1, 2004
- Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes, Page 3 December 1, 2004
- Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes, Page 2 December 1, 2004
- Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes, Page 1 December 1, 2004
- Victory in Colorado June 30, 2004
- Real Milk in Wisconsin February 1, 2002