A Lament for my Raw Milk

Cows in field

Written with a whole lot of help from my creative hubby, and much, much laughter (oh, the naughty things we joked about saying!)

(A poet I’m not, but I just sort of thought that a poem might be the way,
to share of my woes and wiggle my nose with disgust at this immoral fray.)

There once was a health conscious Mom,
whose heavenly raw milk came from
a farm, safe and clean,
as you’ve ever seen.
It was nourishing, pure and wholesome.

Until one unfortunate day,
when the government dropped by to say,
“You’ve broken the law,
By keeping it raw.
Desist or we’ll lock you away.”

Their mandate and mission is clear.
To fill all the people with fear,
of drugs and of thugs,
and raw milk in jugs,
so we’ll vote for them year after year.

Ahhh, my poor little poem can’t really convey the situation or the frustration that I and all the other shareholders feel as our raw milk (that is our rightful property!) is being withheld from us, due to a flawed Order to Cease and Desist.

The distribution of raw milk is illegal everywhere in Canada. Our cow share went out on a limb by finding a legal loophole (and checking it over very carefully before beginning), which allows us to purchase shares as cow owners, thus owning a portion of the milk that is produced. It is legal to drink raw milk from a cow that you own, as it is personal property that you may do with as you like.

Over a week ago, milk was seized and dumped down the toilet at one of the 5 drop points used by our cow share. This week the order to cease and desist was given to the farmers, and we are unable to pick up our milk (which we have paid for) and it will go to waste this week. The issue has been taken to the BC Court of Appeals, but we really have no idea what to expect next. If you’re interested, here is a bit more info and the official letter of appeal for our case.;

It is unbelievable to me that a group of regular people, purchasing cows together so they can drink fresh, unpasteurized milk, is an issue worthy of the government’s time, money and energy! Can it possibly be for any reasons other than control over what individual citizens do, and to protect the interest’s of the highly influential and affluent dairy industry? (I love the phrase “dairy cartel” used in the letter of appeals!)

So tell me- what is the raw milk status where you live? And just to open up a can of worms (keep it family friendly, everyone!) what do you think about government regulation of these kind of things anyways? 🙂

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  1. I am not sure what the law is here but based on the fact that the only sources that I have found are goat – I am guessing that cow milk is more strictly regulated.

    I haven’t gone to the source yet and got some although i am anxious to do so. I grew up milking goats and drinking their milk and I am curious to find out if I still like the taste after what seems like a million years.

  2. Wow. That is crazy. I am completely 100% against the government’s intervention in matters such as this. It is none of their business. The government’s job (in my opinion) is to “protect me from you and you from me”. That’s it!
    Our family are raw milk drinkers too. We are not allowed to buy it in the state of GA, where we live. But, we are able to purchase it in SC, where it is certified for human consumption…but our milk co-op has to take turns driving 2 1/2 hours one way to get it.
    Please keep us posted on how this turns out. It is scary how quickly our freedoms are being taken away…

  3. Each state here has different laws. We lived in Oklahoma until 2 years ago and you could only purchase it directly from the dairy/farm (it couldn’t be sold in stores).

    We now live in Colorado and it seems we have a very similar law to yours. It is illegal to sell raw milk, even if purchased directly from the dairy. The only way to obtain raw milk is to own a cow share (as you do), because it is not illegal to drink raw milk from a cow you own or own part of.

    The closest reputable farm is 30 miles from us and you have to pick it up at the farm each week…. Their share price is expensive, making the milk $8 US per gallon and then there’s the gas for driving there, so needless to say, we do not currently use raw milk. It just isn’t reasonable to me (at this time) to drive 60 miles round trip weekly, plus pay the share fee for 1 gallon per week (that’s all you get unless you own additional shares).

  4. I think the law is absolutely ludicrous! It’s still legal to buy booze and cigarettes, right? Does that seem odd to anyone?

    I am not in favor of outlawing booze and cigarettes, lest I be misunderstood. I’m simply saying that we generally allow people to eat and drink what they want, whether or not our government thinks it’s “healthy”.

    I know we can get it through our co-op here, but I don’t know what the restrictions surrounding it are.

  5. Ugh! How maddening! You’d think they would have more important things to do than bother civilians drinking raw milk. Sheesh. I’d rag on Canada (and socialism) a bit here, but the truth is, the U.S. isn’t much better. Raw milk can be sold in the grocery stores in California, but nowhere else. Raw milk is only somewhat legal in Texas. For raw cow milk, you must purchase it *on the farm.* It is illegal for the farmers to take it to a drop point (which is where I pick mine up). Raw goat milk must not only be sold on the farm, it must be–get this–died BLUE and marked “for pets only.” Needless to say, I don’t buy blue goat milk. So, bottom line, I’m technically breaking the law each week by buying non-blue raw goat milk and raw cow milk at drop off points. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this. But I do know how strongly I feel that raw milk is the only healthy milk to consume.

    I am SO sorry for your situation. I certainly hope the law will uphold your right to consume your own cow’s milk however you please.

  6. Wow! I’m sorry about your situation. Right now in Oklahoma, we can buy raw milk from farms (they can’t sell in stores.) But I know that a lot of raw milk sellers won’t advertise for fear of government intervention. So the farm we use is by word of mouth. And in the US, it’s illegal to cross state lines with raw dairy products. (Who made that law?!) I’m afraid that what is happening to you will someday be our plight in the USA as the government increasingly controls every area of our lives. It seems like the government could use their energy on more useful things, like, say, finding a cheap, renewable energy source.

  7. It is possible to buy cow shares where I live, and it’s the only way to obtain raw milk. Otherwise it is illegal to sell raw milk where I live in the U.S. Our government acts similarly in certain situations, especially with larger organic and raw dairies, while leaving some smaller and quieter raw dairies alone. I believe it’s about more than protecting public safety, since there are many other avenues the government could take to protect the safety of its citizens but doesn’t. In the case of raw milk, the consumers who go out of their way to find it most certainly have (or had) choice and exercised it. I’m confident that the government’s actions are prompted by heavy industry pressure. Another reason industrial milk just isn’t appealing. I’m sorry your milk supply has dried up, hopefully it will only be temporary. Maybe you can get some Weston Price folks to help initiate petitions?

  8. Oops! Nevermind my suggestion about a petition, I just finished reading the letter of appeal to which you linked. Best wishes, I hope it goes well for all of you.

  9. I would be furious beyond belief! I started out buying raw goat milk only for my son as he can’t drink cows milk, but now, after months of research, I won’t touch the pasteurized stuff!

    Here in Michigan selling raw milk is also illegal (as it is country wide I believe) but we still have the animal share loophole. We pick it up directly from the farm and not at a drop point. I have talked to the woman we buy it from though and she regularly has some government agency that keeps trying to shut her down. She keeps no records of customers, no records of money taken in, she just tells them all she doesn’t know! She’s a spunky ol’ lady I tell you! I hope they never get the chance to close her up. Otherwise I may just have to buy my own goat to keep on my moms 10 acres and milk it myself! Although, I really hope it doesn’t come to that. 🙂

    It is sad how we try to provide such healthful food to our families and it’s illegal, but feeding processed chemical laden food is o.k., even though it’s destroying our bodies (stressing the health system) and our brains.

    I hope everything works out for you!

  10. I am so sorry for your situation I feel your pain. There is a farm that sells raw milk(for pet consumption) about an hour away from where I live. I went and got some once and it was WONDERFUL but I just can’t justify traveling that far just for milk. It is an 80 year old couple that runs the farm and if they can’t find anyone to take it over than there will be no more raw milk soon. The lady makes a wonderful raw milk cheese as well. Sometimes I just don’t understand why the government has to have it’s say in everything we do. They sound like there trying to help but when you dig deeper it’s usually for their own gain.

  11. Oh no, Stephanie! That’s awful! I hope you’re able to get the milk back soon.

    Purchasing raw milk is illegal in our state, too, so we have to cross the border, and buy in in the bordering state where it is legal.


  12. I think that raw milk is legal where I live. I think it is ridiculous for a government to try to stop individuals from drinking raw milk. Why is it any of the governments business what I choose to drink? I really think they must get some kind of pressure from the “dairy cartel”s. They allow things like McDonald’s and Burger King but outlaw raw milk! It doesn’t make any sense!

  13. It has nothing to do with health reasons like they claim. They are not getting their cut. It’s all about the $$$$.

  14. Last week there was a local gathering of farmers who sell raw milk. They have a group that fights for the rights of farmers to sell raw milk. It is in the States, but I’ll find the info in the paper and maybe they can give you some guidance about how to proceed.

  15. infuriating! it’s not about milk, it’s about rights! there aren’t even words for how angry i get when i hear stories like yours and when i hear about the gov’t taking away our rights! here in CO we are fortunate to be able to buy cow shares and have as much raw dairy as we want, but my mind just cannot fathom how they in other states get away with mandating what we can and cannot eat/drink! we can go to the store and buy our kids pure sugar, HFCS, spoiled milk, cigarettes and beer if we choose, but we are restricted from going to a farm and getting a natural substance like milk straight from a cow—makes absolutely no sense and is ludicrous!!!!! even those out there who are against raw milk for whatever reason and lobby against it with the big businesses, should understand that it’s about our rights and everyone no matter what their opinion should be for us in the fight for that!

  16. It is illegal here in NJ, USA where I live. I have to drive an hour away to another state in order to get it. And yes, I’m sure it’s idustrial lobbying that does it. There is legislation pending in NJ to license dairies to sell raw milk from there farms… I realllllly hope it goes through. Even though this farm’s prices are decent enough that even with the added gas expenditure it’s worth the trip, it’s still a hassle to have to go that far.

  17. It is maddening to be told what we can and can’t eat when govt. “allows” garbage to be sold as “food”. In Ohio we can buy it if we belong to a herd-share. We currently pay 6.00/gal.-donation basis only. It ranges from $4-$8 depending on your location. In Fl. you can only buy it for “pet consumption only” but it is sold in some health food stores-out of the back! It is good milk though.
    We all have to fight for our rights or we will most certainly lose them. The Weston Price Foundation is worth looking into for some possible help/guidance.

  18. Wow how frustrating. We have dairy allergies, so I’m not sure what the law is for raw milk here. I’m definitely against the gov’t intervening with things like this.

    I liked your poem though 🙂

  19. That’s outrageous!! I don’t know the law here but we’ll be looking into it. I recently found some research that might son’s casein sensitivity might not be casein but the way dairy products are processed. Unprocessed might be the way to go.

  20. I’m sorry, Stephanie! We just recently got hooked on raw milk here in SC(it is legally sold here though I’ve never seen it in regular grocery stores).

    I have asthma and haven’t been able to drink straight milk for years without it causing an asthma attack. With the raw milk, I have no problem at all. PTL!!

  21. i am NOT surprised at all by this horrible news! The government tries to control SO many things, it is ridiculous.

    This is not at all in the same ball park, but just so you see how money is spent in USELESS ways… just last week, in Quebec, it was ruled that Margarine can now be yellow, like butter. For 20 years, it was not allowed in this province only. It even went to Supreme Court! (whether yellow or white, it is bad stuff anyway! but just to show you how much time, resources and effort is wasted)

    As a person living in Quebec, it is wonderful to now know that I am considered smart enough to tell the difference between butter and margarine. hehe

    This is the national post article in case you want to see: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=640850

  22. Oh, this sounds just awful! I know that I could NEVER drink pastuerized milk again. We are in Pennsylvania and it is easier than most states to get raw milk here, I think due to the high number of Amish we have. I always keep my eye out for legislation that could change that and I notice that the local governments are always trying to find a way to make raw milk sales difficult or to scare the public about it.
    I would be irrate if I were you! Is there anything else that you can do beyond the petition? Do you know anywhere else you can go to get raw milk? Having 4 kids, 2 of which can’t have cow dairy, we have recently switched to raw goat milk. Do you have access to that? If not you might be able to keep a milking goat since it’s smaller than a cow, although the work wouldn’t be fun!
    I just don’t understand what makes people think that they have the right to govern the food we eat! They should be governing the safety of large scale food production, not dissallowing certain foods. It is obvious to me that it really comes down to money. I’ve seen this happen in the child labor/delivery “industry” also, where modern conventions dictate what the government goes after and then limits our ability to make healthy choices for ourselves!
    I am so sorry for you situation and hope that it improves. I’ll be looking for more updates on the matter…

  23. Oh, how awful! Just thinking about all that wonderful, nourishing milk going down the drain makes me sad! Raw milk is legal in California, but I’m not sure of the specifics. I know the legality is tenuous many places, and I feel so blessed that we can buy it here.

  24. Excellent and very hunorous poem, Ryan and Stephanie.(if Ryan helped-seems like his signature was in there)It sounds like it may be a while till things are cleared up-if ever. Sigh. Not much can be done till then.

  25. My husband and I just joined a cow share in Arizona(the only one in our area) because our laws are the same as yours in BC. I am new to all of the info on raw milk, but have been encouraged by my husbands sisters, who live in other states and get raw milk from local farms. It is all very eye-opening, especially your situation. We’re still trying to decide if the $12.50 per gallon plus 19 mile drive each way is worth the benefits of raw milk. Plus, my in-laws are worried about risks of TB and other diseases. It’s interesting to read how many people are so passionate about raw milk and I really feel for your situation. It makes me thankful for the opportunity that we have.

  26. well…the law stinks – but the poetry is sweet…
    i can imagine my husband putting a great rapp to that song….or perhaps something a bit folksy….

    hey…love what you’re doing on this blog…it’s a keeper! pun intended 🙂


  27. oh…i should have written that arizona – if you can believe it – is legal for raw milk….only in certain stores….and from the farm….

    we LOVE raw milk!

  28. I’m from MN and we enjoy drinking raw milk. In the winter I have been buying it from a local dairy. I have to fill up the jars from the bulk tank myself (which is fine with me) because as I understand it it is illegal to deliver the raw and that includes putting it in jars. In the summer time we get raw goats milk from my parents farm (The goats let up on production in the winter which is why we then go to cows milk).

  29. What they are doing with raw milk is nothing compared to the power they will have if Bill c-51 passes. Check out http://www.stopc51.com and see if there’s anything you can do locally to stop it. They are rushing it through.
    This law already passed in parts of Europe and as a result no one can even get natural vitamin C. The only vitamins available are synthetic and only with a prescription.
    This law would enable the police to enter your home without a warrant and take your children for giving them herbs.

  30. that really is too bad. My uncle and Dad had dairy farms , and I remember all the cleaning they did, and how careful they were to keep their cows healthy. THey sold their milk to a local dairy to be pasteurized, etc, but used the raw milk for themselves. Seems silly to make a law that keeps people from having raw milk.

  31. I’m lucky, I guess. I live in the USA, in a state where you CAN get raw milk, but they don’t make it easy. You can buy raw milk only straight from the farm it is milked on, and you must bring your own sterilized container, and the farmer can’t advertise his raw milk. So you have to resort to asking every person you meet, or going on craigslist.org and begging for raw milk resources. And a lot of times, it’s too far away to get to the nearest source. Cowsharing seems to be allowed. I do envy California, I think they can buy raw milk in stores.

    I do have a source now, but it’s a guy who also sells milk to a large dairy. So his cows are Holsteins, a commercial breed, instead of the better Jerseys (more butterfat in their milk). He says he doesn’t give hormones, and only gives antibiotics when their sick, and doesn’t sell that milk. But he does give them his own corn that he sprays once a year, and his standards of cleanliness in his dairy aren’t what I wish they were (but probably infinitely better than many dairies).

    I got spoiled once, having access to a lady with a few Jerseys that she raised organically, in a very clean environment. But we moved, so I’m still looking for a better source than the guy we use now.

    And yes, I think raw milk legislation is ridiculous. Especially when it outlaws cowsharing. If you can pay to board your own horse, why can’t you pay to board your cow? That’s all cowsharing is. You’d think they’d have something better to do…like go after the cattle farmers who feed their cattle stuff like urea and chewing gum, and other stuff that actually COULD make us sick!!

    There’s my rant. 😉

  32. By the way, there’s a website, http://www.realmilk.org, where you can look up the laws for your state, and sometimes find a person near you that has raw milk. You can also contact the local chapter leader for your area to get more resources. I thought they had Canadian laws and resources too, but I may be wrong.

    It’s not illegal for the whole country (USA) to sell raw milk. Each state makes its own laws, so check yours out, you might be surprised.

    And yes, raw milk can cost a fortune, as one person mentioned. I’ve heard it can be as much as $15 US to buy per gallon, or as low as $2. I’m paying $2/gallon right now. I hope to find a cleaner source for no more than $4/gallon.

  33. The farm should be able to sell the shares legally but they might not be doing it quite right and even then the gov can take you to court over anything. Even if they don’t win the farmer still has the expense of hiring an attorney in defense. The farmer has to be very, very careful how they word the contract and do everything by the book and be able to prove it. Basically if you can truly prove you own a share in the cow, and the farmer caretaker can prove that they are harvesting the milk from that single cow and you get only the milk from that cow in your jars, there’s nothing they can do about it. Where the farmers get in trouble is when they try and fill out of a bulk tank, or mix the milk where you are getting milk from other people’s animals. Then it becomes illegal. Most farmers don’t want to go through the trouble of doing all that, but for what some of them get for a gallon of milk they should think twice! As a farmer I personally believe in freedom of choice. If you the consumer choose to buy the milk knowing the risks of tuberculosis, bruscellosis, listeria, e. coli then it should be your choice, just like the risk of getting e. coli when you eat at a restaurant or buy lettuce at the store (it happens) and the risk of getting cancer from smoking, etc. And if the farmer is willing to assume the small risk of someone getting sick from their milk, then so be it. That is my belief and a belief that is shared by my local dairy inspector, for what that is worth (-:

  34. We’re lucky. Here in Minnesota it is legal to buy raw milk if you buy it straight from the farm. However, delivery is not legal with the notion that you go to the farm to see how clean the dairy is and the health of the animals. Regardless it’s still hard to find people willing to sell it to the public. I have my own goats.

  35. Here in Nova Scotia, Canada we pay $2 a litre (close to a quart) for raw milk. It’s labelled “Not for human consumption, for pet use only”. When we first contacted the farmer I told her that we have two dogs (and we do). I’m worried that this loophole will be closed. I do love buying and drinking raw milk legally when I’m in the States.

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