Anti-Raw Milk State Changes Tune, Declares it LEGAL for Human Consumption

by Sarah Healthy Living, Raw Milk ActivismComments: 32

anti-raw milk law bites the dust

Times are a-changin’ my friends.

Just days ago, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia signed SB 387 into law, which legalizes raw milk for human consumption.

Yes, West Virginia! The state with the most draconian, anti-raw milk laws in the entire United States!

The controversial legislation, which provides for legal access via herdshare agreements, has delighted many in the pro-raw dairy community. Previously, West Virginia was known as the state with the strictest anti-raw milk laws. Prior regulations not only prohibited the sale of raw milk for human consumption, but also for animals. Contractual distribution via herdshare agreements and even giving raw milk away were also illegal!

If West Virginia has now legalized raw milk, it can certainly be legalized anywhere.

The Governor’s signature on SB 387 comes on the heels of a disappointing veto last year. Predictably, the powerful and well financed dairy lobby worked hard to defeat the bill at that time using dead body type scare tactics that have worked for decades to keep the profit power in the hands of a few large corporations.

Interestingly, these national dairy groups, the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association, did not raise much of a ruckus with the bill this year. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), which provided funding in support of the bill, reports that the FDA did show up to testify against SB 387.

The FDA testimony did nothing to reverse the momentum to finally legalize the most traditional, basic, and nutritious of foods that has nourished humankind for millenia even prior to the advent of agriculture.

No doubt the supporters of SB 387 who flooded the governor’s office with calls to “please sign this bill” made all the difference. Nearly zero public opposition to the bill was probably a factor in the governor’s quick signature as well.

How to Get Raw Milk in West Virginia

The terms of  SB 387 are thus:

  • Consumers who wish to obtain raw milk must first have a valid herdshare agreement in place with a dairy farm that sells raw milk. They must sign a document acknowledging the “inherent” dangers of raw milk.
  • The dairy farm must file a copy of the agreements it has with each consumer that obtains raw milk from the farm with the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture.
  • Dairies that issue herdshares to customers are required to meet meet health requirements established by the state veterinarian for milk producing animals.

In addition, if any illnesses related to the consumption of raw milk occur, they must be reported. Rules pertaining to herdshares may be put in place by the Commissioner of Agriculture, but are not required. The proposed rules must be approved by vote of the full legislature.

Only a Handful of States Are Still Anti-Raw Milk

Only seven states, Montana, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Iowa, and Delaware, currently (and inexplicably) outlaw raw milk entirely to the detriment of its citizens and local economies. Canada is out in left field too. Not only is raw milk illegal for sale in Canada, but people who drink raw milk from cows living on a farm they own are also at risk from the law.

This makes even less sense when you consider that Canada is a member nation of the British Commonwealth and that Queen Elizabeth drinks her milk raw going so far as to have bottles of it delivered to her grandsons Princes William and Harry while they were students at Eton. Raw milk must not be that dangerous after all if the future King of England drank it as a child, eh?

With the passage of SB 387, hopefully these few states and our neighbor to the north will be encouraged to reverse course on antiquated laws that fail to recognize the basic economic right of consumers to access the healthy food of their choice from local farms in their community.

Congratulations to all who made SB 387 happen after years of hard work.  The healthy children of West Virginia who will be raised once again on raw, whole grassfed milk as a result of your efforts thank you in advance!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Comments (32)

  • George

    What’s funny is the person who sponsored the bill brought in some raw milk for all the legislators to drink. Most of them ended up very sick laying on the couches in their offices lol.

    March 18th, 2016 6:53 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    Hi Sarah, I just wanted to say that Alaska should also be added to the “illegal” state. It’s frustrating, especially when this last election, Alaska legalized marijuana but raw milk is still illegal? Ugh…

    March 11th, 2016 7:44 pm Reply
  • Bodil

    I live in Michigan and thought they had the strictest anti-law raw milk laws.

    March 9th, 2016 6:29 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Herdshares are legal in MI. http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/raw-milk-nation-interactive-map/

      March 9th, 2016 7:55 pm Reply
      • matt

        Canada is awesome. If its illegal there it probably dangerous. and whats wrong with cooked milk. The the germs are dangerous and I Have gotten sick drinking it before

        March 14th, 2016 12:27 pm Reply
        • Sarah

          Pasteurization destroys all the enzymes for digesting/absorbing the calcium and other nutrients in the milk. It also destroys vitamin C along with other nutrients and all the probiotics in the milk. The milk proteins are also damaged and made allergenic. No wonder so many people are allergic to processed milk but not raw milk. I would suggest research on the topic … I doubt you would be duped into drinking pasteurized milk again!

          March 14th, 2016 1:15 pm Reply
          • matt

            um its called lactose intolerance

            March 14th, 2016 1:28 pm
          • Sarah

            Lactose intolerance is more aptly called “pasteurization intolerance” because pasteurization destroys lactase, the enzyme to digest the lactose. This is why so many people are loving raw milk and trying to find it where they live because they can drink milk and consume dairy again with no symptoms.

            March 14th, 2016 1:49 pm
  • Jill

    Good news for sure. And yet….
    The farmer must file with WV Ag a copy of each of its consumer agreements? Really? Tracking consumers, each and every one? That’s just creepy. It reminds me of the many questions that physicians are now recently required under Obamacare to ask of their patients, among which are included “Have you received a flu shot in the last 12 months?” and “Do you plan to receive a flu shot in the future?” “None of your damn business” is the phrase that comes to mind.

    March 9th, 2016 3:28 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Yes, that is over the line for sure. And, the consumer has to sign an agreement stating that he/she is aware of the “inherent” risks of consuming raw milk. Seriously? People don’t have to sign anything like that when they eat sushi or raw oysters at a restaurant do they?

      March 9th, 2016 7:46 pm Reply
  • Angela Brown

    Hi Sarah,
    I’m wondering where can I find raw milk in Minnesota? Do you have any idea where I would start to look?

    March 9th, 2016 3:13 pm Reply
  • Sheena

    I’m pretty sure that raw milk is also still illegal in Hawaii.

    March 9th, 2016 1:32 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Thanks for pointing that out! I missed that one: http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/raw-milk-nation-interactive-map/

      I also got confused as I have friends on Kauai who drink raw milk (from their own cow though).

      March 9th, 2016 2:16 pm Reply
      • Dianne

        No, you didn’t miss it. You clearly stated that Hawaii is one of the states in which raw milk is illegal.

        March 10th, 2016 3:57 pm Reply
  • LAURA BERRY

    i HAVE JUST READ THE WV TURNAROUND ON RAW MILK AND AM SO HAPPY FOR THEM. I DON’T UNDERSTAND, THOUGH, SARAH. I LIVE IN NC AND ALL FARMERS TELL ME IT IS ILLEGAL HERE. YOU DO NOT LIST NC AS A STATE STILL OUTLAWING IT. WHY IS THAT?
    THANKS!!!!

    March 9th, 2016 1:11 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      In North Carolina, raw milk is LEGAL for sale as pet food. Same as here in FL where I live and also in GA and MD. So, it can be sold this way and once you have it in your possession, the gov’t can’t tell you whether or not to drink it yourself. That is your personal choice.

      March 9th, 2016 2:17 pm Reply
      • suzanne

        Yes, in NC, ‘pet milk’ is legal, yet the local farm I buy from was visited this past week by government officials. Consequently, bureaucrats shut down the pet milk portion of the business. Very sad.

        March 13th, 2016 2:32 pm Reply
  • wtchmom3

    HURRAH!

    March 9th, 2016 12:24 pm Reply
  • Donnie

    It’s about time.

    March 9th, 2016 11:15 am Reply
  • Kansas Allen

    Woohoo for WV! As for your comment about it being illegal to drink raw milk from your own cow in Canada, you better do some more research. In all the provinces it is illegal to sell/give it, and BC has even deemed it a “health hazard” but it is NOT illegal to drink it from your own cow. I own a dairy cow and I milk and frink it every day, no one has ever shown up at my door telling me I can’t. It is legal to consume raw milk on which the farm animal resides, I just can’t transport it off of my farm unless it is going to a certified place to be pasteurized.

    March 9th, 2016 11:11 am Reply
    • Sarah

      It is my understanding that the law in Canada is that you can’t drink it from your own cow, but that doesn’t mean the gov’t will actually go door to door and enforce it though.

      March 9th, 2016 2:19 pm Reply
      • Kansas Allen

        You have been misinformed if this is what you “understand.” In Canada it is illegal to transport it off of the farm where the animal resides unless it is being transported to a certified place to be pasteurized, it is not illegal to drink from your own cow on your own farm. As I have stated; I live in Canada and own my own dairy cow, I would think I would know more about this than you would not being a Canadian and not dealing with our laws. Your article is wrong and you should change it unless you can link to something that shows this, you really shouldn’t post it because that is your “understanding.” I am a huge advocate for legalizing raw milk but before putting anything to writing you really should do more research as misinformation doesn’t help the cause.

        March 9th, 2016 5:06 pm Reply
        • Sarah

          My Dad’s side of the family is French Canadian, so I do have a bit of a personal interest in Canada’s stand against raw milk. How do you explain this? Schmidt’s problems would be nonexistent if cow owners could drink their own raw milk. http://www.offthegridnews.com/current-events/court-bans-drinking-raw-milk-even-by-cow-owners/

          March 9th, 2016 7:53 pm Reply
          • E. Lynn

            Sorry, Sarah, you are misinterpreting the article. If you would have the time to read and follow the more accurate news web sites and news papers you would get the whole true story. Mr. Schmidt’s case is not really about cow owners being able to drink their own milk. Herd shares are not legal in the Province of BC where I live, and that seems to be the case in Ontario as well and that is the issue being fought there. The milk produced on his farm is being TRANSPORTED off his farm and THAT is illegal.
            Period.
            Not to take away from the fight for raw milk being legalized in general in Canada, Schmidt is fighting a different battle. The headline is sensationalized leading you and others to jump with them to that inaccurate conclusion. There has been recent searching of where individuals stand the legal issue of potentially selling raw milk for pet use in BC, and again in a regional interior BC farm group a link was provided from the BC government stating that the milk is only for use on the individual farm it is produced on not to be sold, given away, bartered, and not to be provided to others as ‘pet milk’ even if it might be for someone’s orphaned goat etc. As Kansas has stated more then once we are legally entitled to consume the milk produced on our own property if that is what we chose.

            March 9th, 2016 10:43 pm
          • Sarah

            Thanks for the input and perspective … I happen to know Mr. Schmidt personally (we served on the board of the WAPF together) so I do know what is going on and in my view, if it were true that farmer can legally drink the milk raw, then Schmidt’s case wouldn’t be in the courts because his buying club owns his entire farm not just the cows. The only reason other farmers haven’t been prosecuted for the same reasons is because the law is unenforceable and because Schmidt is essentially a scapegoat.

            March 10th, 2016 7:49 am
          • Kansas Allen

            Michael Schmidt’s problems are because the people are transporting the milk off of the farm where the animal resides. Are you thick?? Even in the hyped up news story you quote it says “It is not illegal to drink raw milk in Canada as long as you own the cow but it is illegal to sell it.” Michael Schmidt is trying something to get around the law of transporting the milk off of the farm… and, as you can surely see, is being fined and singled out. I truly hope Mr. Schmidt wins in Supreme Court, he will definitely help Canada in the raw milk fight. You, on the other hand, quoting misinformation and posting “off the grid” news items will not. If you know Mr. Schmidt personally ask him to clarify this to you, I would love to hear his response.
            I can see this is pointless, I love your “My Dad’s side of the family is French Canadian” and this makes you an expert in our Canadian laws how? I had originally shared your news story to my Facebook page, but I will be removing it now. A number of people are trying to enlighten you but I can see you are quite resistant to change, a good news reporter will correct their mistakes and not dig a deeper hole. Open your mind and start reading trustworthy news sites and stay away from “out in left field” webpages.

            March 10th, 2016 10:37 am
          • Sarah

            Hi Kansas, interesting that I’ve never heard Mr. Schmidt mention the transporting of his milk off the farm as being an issue at all. Here’s a good summary of the saga on Michael’s own blog and there isn’t a mention of the legal problems being caused by milk transport: https://thebovine.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/york-region-health-officials-and-police-raid-michael-schmidts-raw-milk-distribution-in-thornhill/

            I appreciate your input, but I think the situation is probably more complicated and political than either of us may even realize. By the way, can you please dispense with the insults? Thanks!

            March 10th, 2016 10:43 am
  • Cristina

    I’m curious how well that silly law is enforced in Canada. How would they possibly know if you are drinking milk from your cow?

    Let’s hope that raw milk not only becomes legal everywhere, but more accessible! It is worth it to make my monthly milk pick-up, but dang, is it a pain in the butt nonetheless.

    March 9th, 2016 10:39 am Reply
    • Sarah

      You’re right .. how in the world would the gov’t know if you were drinking raw milk from your own cow? It is as ridiculous as it is unenforceable. Antiquated laws put in place decades ago by a then growing and now almost all-powerful corporate dairy industry that need to be rolled back.

      March 9th, 2016 2:21 pm Reply
    • E. Lynn

      Actually Christina it is legal to drink raw milk in Canada. It is not legal to ‘market’ raw milk. It can not leave the premises where it is produced end the law also includes not being allowed to be traded or given away to anyone.
      One of Canada’s major national news sites reporting on the legal battle of farmer and activist for raw milk Michael Schmidt carried this quote.
      Schmidt said. “Every farmer is who on the farm can drink his own milk. It’s not illegal to drink raw milk.”

      The rest of the news story can be read here.
      news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/its-not-illegal-to-drink-raw-milk-but-to-sell-it-farmer-turned-activist-renews-campaign-for-unpasteurized-dairy

      Sarah is mistaken, it is legal for a person to consume the milk from ones won animal on the property where it was produced.

      March 9th, 2016 5:59 pm Reply
    • Kansas Allen

      This is simply not true. I live in Canada and I own a dairy cow and it is LEGAL to drink my own milk from my own cow. I am just not allowed to transport the milk off of my farm unless it is to be taken to a certified place to be pasteurized. There is no law stating I cannot drink my own milk from my own animal! Good Lord there are tons of people in Canada with their own dairy cows and goats because we cannot buy raw milk from anyone or from the grocery store, this is why we have our own animals. I own one dairy cow and 2 milking goats and I live in Canada, I know the law in my own Country!

      March 9th, 2016 6:12 pm Reply

Leave a Comment