WESTON A. PRICE FOUNDATION
May 24, 2006
Please read carefully; your letters are needed, regardless of where you live!
URGENT: Thanks to those who sent comments to the state of Maryland opposing the amendment to Section 10.15.06 of the Maryland Code (banning cow share agreements by defining them as a “sale”). Judging by the response of the Maryland Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH), the ones responsible for issuing the rule, the department is still intent on adopting the rule banning cow shares. We urgently need ALL of you to write letters to the committee as outlined below (a sample letter is provided).
The Department has sent the same boilerplate letter to those contacting it in opposition to the proposed rule. The letter describes “the risks to human health associated with the consumption of raw milk” without explaining how cow shares constitute a “sale.” (Click here to read our response to this letter). Fortunately, there is a state legislative committee that has the power to slow down or help stop the adoption of the rule.
The status of the rule is this: even though the amendment to Section 10.15.06 is going through the rule-making process, it is already in effect as law because it was granted emergency status as a rule on April 6, 2006. The legislative organization that empowered MDHMH to implement the rule on an emergency basis was the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (ALER). Under Maryland law the committee has the power to enable state agencies to adopt emergency rules with the force of law for up to six months. The emergency status of the rule amending Section 10.15.06 expires October 3. MDHMH is currently taking the amendment through the normal rule-making process so that the rule will still be law when its emergency status expires.
ALER has the power to not only grant but also withdraw emergency status for a rule. It also has the power to extend the 45-day period given by Maryland law for review of a proposed rule. ALER can even oppose a rule, in which case the issuing agency must either withdraw the proposed rule, rewrite and reissue the proposed rule, or petition the governor to override the committee to adopt the rule. To oppose the rule, the committee must give the issuing agency notice in writing at least two weeks before the end of the 45-day period. The 45-day period begins with the publication of the proposed rule in the Maryland Register, which in the case of the 10.15.06 amendment was April 28.
The final outcome on the proposed amendment will affect more than the citizens of Maryland. Other than Rhode Island, every state has laws recognizing the contractual right of individuals to board livestock they own on the premises of another for care and custody; these boarding agreements are known as agistment contracts.
The recognition of this contractual right legalizes cow shares. There is no exclusion for the boarding of dairy cattle in any of these laws. While other states have banned cow shares, Maryland is the first state to directly claim that a boarding contract for dairy cattle constitutes the sale of raw milk. Adoption of the 10.15.06 amendment could easily set a precedent which will encourage other states to ban cow share agreements in spite of the laws on the books recognizing livestock boarding contracts. In addition to its law recognizing boarding contracts, the public policy of Maryland, like the public policy of every other state, recognizes the right of people to consume raw milk from animals they own. This should be so whether someone has a full or partial ownership interest in the animal, or whether they board the animal on their own property or on the property of another. There is no valid public health reason to deny the right of people, who have ownership interests in animals through share agreements, to consume raw milk. If the milk is safe to drink for those who own and board their own animals, it is safe for those who have full or partial ownership in an animal boarded on the premises of another.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Contact the members of ALER listed below and ask them to:
- Notify MDHMH that the committee will need more than 45 days to complete its review of the proposed amendment to Section 10.15.06. Once the committee notifies the Department of their need for more time to review the proposed regulation, MDHMH, under law, cannot adopt the proposed amendment as a rule until at least 105 days after its initial publication in the Maryland Register.
- Withdraw the emergency status the committee previously granted for the 10.15.06 amendment.
- Oppose the rule by notifying MDHMH in writing of their opposition to the rule.
Tell the committee members the proposed amendment conflicts with Maryland statutory law (Title 16, Section 401 – Livestock lien for care and custody) and with the state public policy of recognizing the right of individuals to consume raw milk from animals they own. Tell them the Department’s proposed amendment violates the “separation of powers” doctrine contained in both the United States and the Maryland Constitutions; the Department is trying to take away a right that has been granted the people by the legislature. Tell them cow share agreements are formed for the purpose of acquiring ownership rights in an animal or herd so the shareholder can consume raw milk legally in accordance with state public policy. In addition, those who responded to the initial Maryland action alert should include the comments they had made previously to the Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene.
A sample letter to the committee members could read as follows.
* * * * * * *
Dear [Committee Member],
I am writing you to oppose the amendment to Section 10.15.06 of the Maryland Administrative Code. This amendment defines cow share agreements as a “sale,” thereby prohibiting such arrangements.
I am asking you to do the following:
- Request a public hearing before the Committee on the proposed amendment.
- Have the Committee notify the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH) that more than 45 days is needed to complete the review of the amendment to Section 10.15.06.
- Have the Committee withdraw the emergency status it previously granted the amendment.
- Have the Committee oppose the amendment by notifying MDHMH of its opposition in writing.
The Department’s response to letters sent to it during the public comment period has failed to address how cow share agreements constitute a “sale” of milk. The proposed amendment conflicts with state law (Title 16, Section 401 – Livestock lien for care and custody) recognizing the contractual right of individuals to board livestock they own on the premises of another for care and custody. In addition, the amendment conflicts with state public policy recognizing the right of individuals to consume raw milk from animals they own. This right applies whether they have a full or partial ownership interest in the animal or whether they board the animal on their own property or on the premises of another. Cow share agreements are formed for the purpose of acquiring ownership rights in an animal or herd so the shareholder can consume raw milk legally in accordance with state public policy. The proposed amendment violates the “separation of powers” doctrine contained in both the United States and the Maryland Constitutions; the Department is trying to take away a right that has been granted the people by the legislature.
If the health risks associated with consuming raw milk are as great as the Department claims, then why are farmers allowed to consume raw milk? I encourage you to look at a response to the contentions of Mr. Elkin and MDHMH that is posted at the following website: http://www.westonaprice.org.
* * * * * * *
Please act now! Maryland farmers and consumers need your help!
WHO TO CONTACT
Maryland Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (ALER)
Paul G. Pinsky – Senate Chair
paul.pinsky (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3155 or 301-858-3155
John F. Wood, Jr. – House Chair
john.wood (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3170 or 301-858-3170
Gwendolyn T. Britt
gwendolyn.britt (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3745 or 301-858-3745
jim.brochin (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3648 or 301-858-3648
Richard F. Colburn
richard.colburn (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3590 or 301-858-3590
Roy P. Dyson
roy.dyson (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3673 or 301-858-3673
Jennie M. Forehand
jennie.forehand (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3134 or 301-858-3134
Robert J. Garagiola
rob.garagiola (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3169 or 301-858-3169
Lisa A. Gladden
lisa.gladden (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3697 or 301-858-3697
John J. Hafer
john.hafer (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3565 or 301-858-3565
Sandra B. Schrader
sandra.schrader (at) senate.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3572 or 301-858-3572
William A. Bronrott
william.bronrott (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3019 or 301-858-3019
Jill P. Carter
jill.carter (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3283 or 301-858-3283
Jean B. Cryor
jean.cryor (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3090 or 301-858-3090
barry.glassman (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3289 or 301-858-3289
Richard Stuart Madaleno, Jr.
richard.madaleno (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3130 or 301-858-3130
Brian R. Moe
brian.moe (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3114 or 301-858-3114
Dan K. Morhaim
dan.morhaim (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3342 or 301-858-3342
Shane E. Pendergrass
shane.pendergrass (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3139 or 301-858-3139
Mary Roe Walkup
mary.roe.walkup (at) house.state.md.us
Phone 410-841-3449 or 301-858-3449