March 12, 2005
1. Colorado Update
The raw milk bill (SB 55) will be heard by the House Agriculture Committee at 1:30 p.m., Monday, March 21, 2005. Any interested person is welcome to attend but only a limited number of persons will be able to testify due to time. Any person passionately desiring to testify may sign up to do so but there is no guarantee the committee will permit all signers to testify. Usually the committee will try to do so but the committees do not want redundant testimony and are constrained by available time. At this time we do not know if other bills will be heard, but it is likely there will be other bills so it is hard to know just when the raw milk bill hearing will commence after 1:30.
At this moment we need help with Gov. Owens who is apparently not convinced that he will sign it. If people do write, they should stress that eating raw foods (sushi, oysters on the half shell, rare meat, real egg nog, etc.) is a “consumer choice”/”consumer right”, as that is the tact that has been most effective here in Colorado.
Bill Owens, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792
governorowens (at) state.co.us
Please include a Colorado mailing address if you wish to receive a reply. Please do not include any attachments.
The bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee 7-0 and passed the entire Senate 34-1 (Senator Dyer voted against it). Now it is hoped the House will act accordingly. Senator Johnson did a phenomenal job in taking the bill through the Senate. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union provided much needed direction and coordination.
It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that the efforts of all the persons who have worked on the bill have been needed in causing this progress to be made. The letters which so many people wrote have had a definite favorable influence on legislators. Several legislators have commented on them (favorably) and have especially noted that each letter was about the writer’s own experience and views — there were no “canned” letters. This has made a big impact and has DEFINITELY BEEN WORTH THE
EFFORT it took to write the letters.
David Lynch with John Stencel of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union has been able to build a rapport with Dairy Farmers of America which has led to the current bill. DFA is expected to stand silent about the bill and not oppose it. We understand the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will also not oppose (although not support) the bill in its current form.
The current bill permits cow and goat shares through which consumers can access raw milk. It provides for registration of raw milk producers with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. It requires raw milk producers to inform consumers through labels and/or other materials that the milk is not pasteurized and what the procedures for herd health and handling of raw milk are that the producer follows.
The bill also provides that the registration at the Department of Health does not consitute an endorsement of raw milk, that pasteurized milk is not to be disparaged by producers of raw milk, and that only owners of cow or goat shares are to pick up milk at the farm but those persons may pick up milk from a producer for other cow or goat share owners but not for other persons.
There is still much work to be done but with the kind of support which has been given to this effort to date by so many people, it is fair to say the outlook is at least guardedly optimistic.
If the bill passes the House, it will be necessary to have as many people as possible contact the Governor in support of the bill.
maatka (at) comcast.net
2. Virginia Raw Milk:
Where Do We Go From Here?
First of all, a huge congratulations to all of us for what we accomplished in an astonishingly short time. In about eight weeks, from when we learned of Gov. Warner’s signing the new dairy regu;lations to Del.
Kaine’s tie-breaking vote against us on the Senate floor, we coalesced into a potent, determined, effective grassroots force. Yea!!!!!
Following is a brief synopsis of those eight weeks, in the form of a time-line. Because the events happened with such rapidity, and were so closely spaced, I have written this rather cryptically in the hope of providing greater clarity. Good luck following it all. You may have to go over it seven or eight times…
December 2004 Once Christine Solem learned of the pending new regulations, we immediately–in the midst of end-of-the-year, Christmas, New Year’s activities and general confusion–began organizing for legislative action during the 2005 General Assembly session that would begin the first week of January. (Interesting timing on signing those regs…).
Christine prepared two bills, one on behalf of Kirsty Zahnke, constituent of Del. Bud Phillips, that would have restored the right to sell milk and cheese on the farm if the farmer had no more than 3 milking cows or 12 milking goats–HB2405, and one for Mary VanderWoude Hill, constituent of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, that would have restored the right of on-farm and farmers’ markets sales of goat cheese made on the farm, provided the cheese packages stated the farm was not permitted or
inspected and the herd was brucellosis and tuberculosis free–HB2295.
Christine also created a Constitutional Amendment, “The people shall have the right to acquire for their own consumption any farm produced food directly from the farmer who produced it” that became HJ814, the principal sponsor of which was Delegate Tom Gear. (HJ stands for “House Joint Resolution”).
Monday January 10, 2005 Two days before General Assembly 2005 Session began, VICFA staged a demonstration in front of the Virginia Supreme Court building to draw awareness to the situation of Brenda Parker Smith, whose case was being heard that morning at the Supreme Court. Brenda
had been charged with operating a food manufacturing plant without having been inspected. She had, in fact, been making small amounts of goat cheese in her home farm kitchen for sale at the Irvington Farmers’ Market.
Wednesday January 12. The two House bills, HB2405 and HB2295, went to the House Agriculture Committee, whose chairman, Del. Kirk Cox, immediately assigned them to subcommittee.
Thursday January 20. The subcommittee heard both bills, with VICFA members and other supporters of the bills present and testifying. The bills were “tabled” that day, meaning the subcommittee could hear and discuss them again at their next weekly meeting.
Later that morning VICFA held a demonstration outside the General Assembly building to pressure the Governor and legislators to suspend the cheese regulations before they were to go into effect on January 26th. Demonstrators handed flyers to passers-by, spoke to people who were aghast at the new regs, and informed members of the press about same.
Friday January 21. Delegate Albert Pollard, who became a mighty friend to our cause, filed his own bill on our behalf, HB2903, to restore many of the rights of The People to purchase foods of their choice at the location of their choice: the farms where the foods were produced. That same day, Del. Tom Gear formally filed the Constitutional Amendment, HJ814.
Thursday, January 27. Now the day after the regs had become effective, the House Ag. subcommittee met and heard Del. Pollard’s bill, HB2903. At the same meeting HB2405 was rolled into Pollard’s bill and HB2295 was taken over by Del. Orrock, with the acquiescence of Del. Lingamfelter, and its wording changed to, “No regulation shall prohibit or restrict a person, his immediate family, or his guests from consuming products or commodities grown or processed on his property provided that the
products or commodities are not offered for sale to the public.”
Pollard’s bill was tabled that day and would be heard next by the full House Ag. Committee on Feb. 2nd.
(This was the meeting where John Beers of VDACS–who actually wrote the regs–finally admitted what we had been saying all along: that the regs DO apply to individual owners of dairy animals, thus making it a crime for those individuals to make cheese or butter with milk from THEIR OWN
ANIMALS FOR THEIR OWN CONSUMPTION. Beers had publicly denied this until then).
Tuesday Feb. 2. HB 2903 passed the full House Ag Committee by a vote of 16-6 and HB2295 passed unanimously.
Thursday Feb. 4. Constitutional Amendment, HJ814, that had 21 cosigners in the House, was tabled (effectively killed) by the House Privileges and Elections committee.
Friday Feb. 5. HB2903 (Pollard’s bill) passed the full House 57-39, and HB2295 (Lingamfelter/Orrock’s bill) passed with 4 nay votes.
Monday Feb. 14. HB2903, Pollard’s bill, lost in the full Senate Ag. Committee, 9-6. (This was the end of HB2903 for the 2005 session). During the meeting Del. Orrock proposed amendments to Lingamfelter’s bill, HB2295 (the one he had taken over if you remember) to add the words “legally” in front of “grown” and to strike “provided that the products or commodities are not offered for sale to the public.” He did this at the request of Del. Lingamfelter.
Wednesday Feb.16. Sen. Creigh Deeds proposed a floor amendment (an amendment proposed to the full Senate as they met) to HB2295 that would have restored the right of farmers to sell goat cheese on the farm, provided the cheese was labeled, “Not for resale, produced at a farm that is
not licensed or inspected.” The full Senate passed the amendment 21-19. At the same floor session, at the request of Del. Orrock, Sen. Hawkins, Chair of the Senate Ag. Committee, asked the full Senate to reject the amendments added by Del. Orrock two days before on the 14th, thus restoring the language of the bill as it passed the House. HB2295 with Deeds’ amendment was passed by for the day by the full Senate.
Thursday Feb. 17. HB2295 with Deeds’ amendment again was passed by for the day.
Friday Feb.18. The full Senate reconsidered Deeds’ amendment (at the request of someone from the prevailing side, we do not know who) so it was voted on again to tie at 19-19. Lt. Governor Kaine then broke the tie with a nay vote. Another request that it be reconsidered was made and a vote of 20-18 against prevailed. HB2295, now stripped of Deed’s amendment, passed unanimously. It’s fate rests with the Governor.
Permission to Watch the Sun Rise
Time and space constrain the inclusion of all the Machiavellian details, but a few moments stand out as distillations of certain dynamics at work.
At the Senate Ag. Committee meeting on February 14th (where we lost HB2903), speakers against the bill included, among others, a representative from Virginia Tech–who Chairman Hawkins brought in as a “neutral” party on “safety,” Susan Jenkins–State Epidemiologist from VDACS, and Carlton Courter III–Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture (head of VDACS). Courter spoke of how he was “raised on raw milk” but then he went to college and “stopped drinking raw milk.” (????) As he droned on about the “dangers of raw milk” and questions by one or two senators elicited from him the information that, yes, lots and lots of people in Virginia currently drink raw milk, and many people are involved in dairy animal shares, even though Courter didn’t approve of them, Courter finally admitted, “I don’t think anyone should drink raw millk.” After a moment of appropriately stunned silence, Senator Bolling (who is against us) asked, “Well, I don’t think anyone should smoke cigarettes, but… ”
There we have it. The reason the dairy regs were written as they were is because Carlton Courter III doesn’t think “anyone should drink raw milk.” This is the same person who told Joel Salatin that he, Courter, was “personally responsible for every morsel of food that goes into the mouth of every person in the Commonwealth.” Mighty big responsibility Carlton, with all those people exercising their free will to eat what THEY choose, not what YOU CHOOSE FOR THEM.
The other truly telling moment came when Del. Orrock presented his version of Lingamfelter’s bill, HB2295. When he read the bill, “No regulation shall prohibit or restrict a person, his immediate family, or his guests from consuming products or commodities grown or processed on his property provided that the products or commodities are not offered for sale to the public,” again, after an appropriately stunned silence, Senator Chichester asked, “Isn’t that like giving people permission to watch the sunrise?”
Yes, indeed, Senator, that is exactly what it is like.
So, Are We Criminals?
As of this writing, HB2295 (a bill we did not promulgate), if signed by the Governor, will become law on July 1, 2005. Until then, anyone who makes dairy products for their own consumption (or to give to friends, guests, etc…) is, in fact, a criminal, thanks to Governor Warner. John Beers has publicly stated that VDACS does not intend to enforce the dairy regs to that extent (in other words, they intend to practice selective enforcement), but the regs are on the books. VICFA will make every effort to publicize ongoing developments about this.
What About Cow Shares (or goat, sheep, walrus, etc…)?
DAIRY ANIMAL SHARES ARE LEGAL CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENTS. Owning a share in a dairy animal means sharing the cost of maintaining that animal and sharing the products of the animal one co-owns. This is similar to a time-share where individuals who co-own enjoy the same benefits and privileges of ownership, as established in the share contract. Time-share owners co-maintain their mutual property by providing maintenance fees the manager uses to maintain the property.
VDACS has declared its intention to “investigate” people selling dairy animal shares, as per the following email from John Beers (to someone who shall remain nameless):
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:37:35 -0500
From: “John Beers” John.Beers (at) vdacs.virginia.gov
Cow shares can be legal for anyone. No inspection is required. When someone operating a cowshare agreement is brought to our attention then we investigate the arrangement to make sure it represents true ownership interest and is not just another scheme to sell raw milk. Each one is evaluated individually. I recommend that anyone considering starting a cowshare program should consult with an attorney to have the appropriate documents and contracts drawn up.
John A. Beers
Program Supervisor Office of Dairy and Foods
(Bold emphasis added).
Thank you, Mr. Beers, for warning us that you and your agents intend to violate the Fourth Amendment against unwarranted search and seizure.
THE STATE HAS NO RIGHT TO COME ON YOUR PROPERTY TO “INVESTIGATE” YOUR SHARE OPERATIONS
and NO RIGHT TO INSPECT YOUR CONTRACTS WITH YOUR CO-OWNERS and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER ANY OF THEIR QUESTIONS
To reiterate: The state has NO RIGHT to “investigate” a private contractual agreement of this type. DO NOT be intimidated by their rhetoric.
JUST TELL THEM YOU DO NOT WISH TO SPEAK WITH THEM.
Please note, the dairy regs apply to shareowners as well as single owners. In fact, the dairy regs even apply to dairy products you make with store bought milk, because your “facilities” must meet the cheese regs requirements. For instance, a traditional home project for children is to buy heavy cream, then let the children roll it round and round in a jar until it makes butter. This is now a crime, thanks to Carlton Courter and John Beers of VDACS and Governor Warner, along with the legislators who refused to suspend these regulations.
Enjoy your life of crime. You’ll have lots of company.
Where Do We Go From Here?
General Assembly session 2006 may seem a long way off, but it’s not in terms of preparation. There are two essentials we need to succeed: information, and a willingness to act on what we know and believe. Assembling all the raw data we need and putting it into a usable form is going to take some months, but while we are preparing that, we can pursue our most critical need, which is getting the word out. Some things everyone can do are: -cultivate a relationship with your legislators. All the delegates are up for election this year. Learn about them, their voting history on this, and support their campaigns or not as you see fit. The senators will remain in office till 2007, so work with them. Communicate with them regularly about this right to purchase the foods of your choice.
MAKE SURE THEY KNOW THAT YOU, AND THIS FIGHT, ARE NOT GOING AWAY.
- Cultivate a relationship with your local paper (or other media, e.g.
radio stations), write letters to the editor about relevant articles
they publish, ask them about covering this issue more thoroughly
- Create your own email list of people who are interested in this and
want to become involved.
As we gird our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies to fight for restoration of our freedoms, here are three books to increase your knowledge concerning many of the questions we have faced and will face. These three books provide significant information in readable, retainable form. Please do yourself and our cause the favor of getting hold of them and reading them. [If possible, VICFA will purchase bulk quantities of the books for anyone to purchase at a discount at VICFA meetings. All three
books are available at amazon.com].
The Untold Story of Milk, by Ron Schmid, ND, is a thorough, meticulously documented treatise of milk’s role in human progress and civilization.
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon,
Holy Cows and Hog Heaven, by our very own Joel Salatin
Educate food buyers about productions
Create a food system that enhances nature’s ecology for future generations
Two Websites to Visit
Along the same lines are two websites–one new, and one new to me–for education, edification, and pure enjoyment. Bread and Money is the work of Richard Morris, whose eloquent letter to VICFA appears in this issue, and is full of warmth, humor, inspiring information about the health effects of eating traditional foods, and wonderful pictures and recipes. The Modern Homestead is the brand-new creation of VICFA member Harvery Ussery and shares the knowledge, wisdom, and experiences of Harvey and Ellen’s homesteading that VICFA members have become acquainted with through Harvey’s inviting articles in current and past issues of VICFA Voice. One note of caution about both sites: they may change your life forever!
Contact: Debbie, vicfavoice (at) earthlink.net
Got (raw) milk?
By SARAH LARSON
The Intelligencer March 5, 2005 9:56 AM
Sales of raw milk in Pennsylvania are on the rise, spurred by prohibitions on such sales in neighboring states and growing interest from people who believe it is more healthful than its pasteurized cousin.
“Within the last year and a half, there seems to be a renewed interest in raw milk,” said Jim Dell, chief of Pennsylvania’s milk safety division. “I don’t know exactly what to attribute that to, but we’ve seen it
from both the consumers and the producers.”
Pennsylvania is one of about 28 states nationwide that allow the sale of unpasteurized milk fresh from the cow. Farmers who want to keep milk cows and sell raw milk must have a permit from the state, Dell said, and must perform certain safety tests on their cows and the milk itself.
In 1998, about 24 farms across the state were producing and selling raw milk, Dell said. Today, 46 are, including one in Bucks County and one in Montgomery County.
Trent and Rachel Hendricks run the one in Montgomery County, Hendricks Farms and Dairy, on Godshall Road in Franconia. They may be best known for cheeses they make from fresh, raw cow and goat milk – cheeses that often find their way into gourmet dishes served at Tinicum’s bed and breakfast, Evermay on the Delaware.
The Hendrickses started with grass-fed meats then bought a “family cow” about four years ago, after their first child was born, to produce their own dairy products.
Word spread that they had raw milk, and today they produce about 200 gallons a day. Their raw milk from Jersey cows sells for $4.50 a gallon and raw goat milk for $5.50 a half gallon.
They now have 30 milk cows – and three children, who never have had pasteurized milk.
“We wanted to give them every advantage we could nutritionally,” said Trent. “Raw milk is closer to the natural product. We have absolute confidence of the health of it. We know what the cows eat. We control the whole system of production. It’s just a huge nutritional asset.”
Raw milk proponents believe that pasteurization kills not just harmful bacteria but also beneficial bacteria, enzymes and vitamins. Raw milk is more healthful overall, they say, even for people who are usually lactose-intolerant.
Not everyone agrees.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates milk, states in no uncertain terms that raw milk, no matter how carefully it is produced, may be unsafe and “strongly advises against” drinking it.
The FDA says pasteurization is the only reliable way to kill bacteria so it won’t make people sick. The most common pathogens to worry about in milk, it says, are Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and Campylobacter jejuni – one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrhea in this country.
Raw milk cannot be sold across state lines, but the federal government leaves it up to each state to decide whether it can be sold in a state.
Pennsylvania says it can.
Still, some officials are wary.
Raw milk production now is limited mainly to small farms, many of which also are certified organic. However, Dell said he and other officials are worried that the dairy industry may use the rising demand for raw milk to try to save money by skipping pasteurization.
But that would not entice raw-milk customers such as Gene Haines.
It isn’t enough that milk is unpasteurized, said Haines, who buys regularly from Birchwood Farm on Brownsburg Road in Upper Makefield, Bucks County’s only state-licensed producer of raw milk.
“Healthful” raw milk also must come from cows that are fed only grasses, which they preferably have foraged for themselves, and that haven’t been shot up with antibiotics or exposed to pesticides or housed in huge barns.
“When you get it directly from cows that are pasture fed, it is without question the most nutrient-dense food you can eat,” said Haines, 52. “As long as the cows are pasture-fed, and tested, there’s absolutely, positively no fear whatsoever of getting sick from it. And it’s delicious.
Other states have not been swayed by those arguments. Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey all ban sales of raw milk.
In some states, people who want raw milk are starting “cow sharing” programs, arguing that, as part owners of the animal, they should be entitled to its milk.
Others are driving to Pennsylvania with coolers, buying enough milk to last a month or so and freezing it at home.
About two years ago, Burton Linne, 73, began driving regularly from Alexandria, Va., to Birchwood Farm.
“Raw milk is a food,” Linne said. “The stuff you buy in the supermarket is not a food. It’s a question of whether you want to eat nutrition or whether you want to eat crap.”
Linne puts no stock in the FDA’s warnings.
“I believe the FDA is a captured agency of the industries that they oversee,” he said. “You cannot trust the Food & Drug Administration to give you the truth. That’s not anti-government; it’s just been proven over and over again.”
The issue of raw milk is gaining attention around the country.
The Colorado Senate last week approved a bill that would allow a cow-share program in that state, but a committee of Virginia legislators voted down a proposal to allow farmers to sell raw milk, fruit preserves or other farm-made foods.
Though Dell said health officials consistently tell Pennsylvania legislators that allowing raw milk is unwise, he said no serious movement is under way to change the law here.
Sarah Larson can be reached at (215) 957-8167 or slarson (at) phillyBurbs.com .