Raw milk farms seek to prevent crackdowns
Due to a recent government crackdown on raw goat’s milk herdshares across the state and nation, many farmers are taking action to preserve their right to freely grow and consume food for personal use.
“When [the government is] stopping herd-share farms, they’re stopping private businesses where it’s private people making their own private decisions and getting all their produce from their own animals,” says Michael Hulme, owner of Evergreen Acres Farm in San Jose.
One morning in June, the Evergreen Acres Farm received a letter from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) informing them that their herdshare was illegal. The letter promised a minimum of six months’ prison time and up to $10,000 in penalties if the farm did not “cease and desist.”
The Evergreen Acres Farm is one of many across the state and nation that partake in a herdshare. Herd shares are private agreements between individuals that allow people who do not have the ability financially, or otherwise, to own their own herd of goats. These individuals enter a contract with a farm, such as Evergreen Acres, that they pay to board a share of a herd of goats.
Following receipt of the cease and desist letter, Hulme met with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s (DA) Office. “The [DA] said, ‘This isn’t a threat, but if you continue to do what you’re doing, we will put you in jail,’” says Hulme.
While there is nothing on the law books that says herd-shares of this nature are illegal, there is also no law to specify their legality. In response, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit against the CDFA and the County of Santa Clara.
As a result of such crackdowns, several farmers in Santa Cruz County have appealed to the local electorate to speak out in support of food sovereignty.
Supervisor Neal Coonerty will be sponsoring a County Resolution in support of food sovereignty for herd shares at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 13. He says another unnamed supervisor may join him in presenting the resolution.
Mali McGee, who co-owns and operates the Milk Mama Goat Farm herdshare in Bonny Doon with her partner Dustin Jensen, brought the issue to Coonerty’s attention.
Read more at Good Times Santa Cruz