The frustration of Canadians with their stuck-in-the-last-century government for its persistent refusal to legalize raw milk reached a fever pitch recently.
The reason is the surprise legalization of raw milk in West Virginia, the state previously known for the most draconian, anti-raw milk laws in the entire United States!
My email inbox was overflowing with Canadians seeking raw milk when this news broke. Clearly there is a significant demand for raw milk in Canada!
Until now, I didn’t have a good answer for Canadians seeking this simplest and most nutritious of traditional foods for themselves and their families.
Now I do. Here’s the lowdown on how to get raw milk in Canada easily and legally.
Canada Borders a Country Very Friendly to Raw Milk
According to National Geographic, 75% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the border with the United States.
There are 13 states along the USA/Canadian border: Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Raw milk is completely legal in 12 of these 13 states (and in 42 of 50 states total). The only state bordering Canada that outlaws the sale of raw milk is Montana (um, what are you waiting for Montana?).
What’s more, in 9 of these border states (Washington, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine), raw milk can be purchased very easily either in a retail establishment or at the farm.
See the frequently updated, extremely helpful “Raw Milk Nation” map available on the website of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund for more information.
Raw Milk in Canada – Legally!
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a Canadian citizen can legally cross into the United States and purchase the raw dairy of his/her choosing and return across the border without harassment or duties (1).
Here are the exact words for dairy products allowed into Canada from the United States:
Dairy products (e.g.: cheese, milk, yogurt, butter):
up to 20 kilograms per person.
Please note that quantities in excess of $20.00 may be subject to high rates of duty. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for determining customs and duties for items coming into Canada.
Notice that in these guidelines, the dairy does not need to be pasteurized. “Dairy products” is defined generally, which includes dairy products that are raw.
To confirm this interpretation to ensure I’m not passing on incorrect information, I’ve been conversing online with a dairy farmer and raw milk activist from British Columbia. She told me the following and gave me her permission to pass it along via this blog:
Sarah I have crossed the border into Washington, bought raw milk in the grocery store and came back into Canada with no problems at all. I even showed my receipt to the Canadian Customs Border guard and he said “thank you ladies, have a nice day.” I have to stop milking my cow for two months of the year so she can build up colostrum from her next calf so whenever I’m down in the Abbotsford area [near Vancouver, British Columbia] I will zip across the border to buy raw milk.
We are allowed $20 worth of dairy if we only go down for the day. It doesn’t matter what that dairy is, butter, raw milk, cheese, etc.
What’s all this mean? It means that if you live in Canada, you can legally cross into the United States, purchase raw dairy from the store or farm of your choosing, and cross back into Canada without incident so long as the raw dairy is for your personal consumption only. According to the language used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency above, purchases over $20 are also allowed (up to a maximum of 20 kg/44 lbs per person), but may be subject to high rates of duty. If you wish to avoid fees, take only $20 or less back home to be on the safe side.
Here’s a strategy to consider: Load up your car with peeps (the regs don’t specify that the “person” has to be an adult either) and drive across the border to load up as much raw milk and dairy as you are allowed legally. Raw dairy freezes very well so you can buy more than you will use right away to limit your trips. This article gives you freezing tips for milk and other raw dairy.
For privacy reasons, I won’t be posting the stores or farms that serve Canadians on a regular basis. The website Real Milk has a state-by-state list of farms, buying clubs, and other establishments that carry raw dairy to get you started on your search. If you live in Canada and are using this strategy already, feel free to post your sources in the comments section for others to benefit from.
Hopefully one day soon, the Canadian government will realize that citizens spending money regularly across the border to buy products proven to be safe that should already be legal in Canada is a drain on local economies. Keeping that money in Canada is a better approach for a smart politician who really gets the big picture.
We would love to be able to buy raw milk here in B.C. When the Bible speaks of milk and honey, it’s speaking of raw milk and honey which is highly nutritious. Nowadays, everything is pasteurized which means it is heated to a very high temperature which kills off all the natural nutrition in the milk and honey. Why can’t the government stay out of our lives s so we can make our own decisions.
The problem with USA milk it is full of HORMONES, etc.
I think this should be posted in your info
Only supermarket milk is “full of hormones” as you put it. Milk from local farms with cows on grass is not “full of hormones”. Just guessing you are vegan as these folks sadly tend to see animal products as a very black and white issue.
Attention everyone!!! There is an easy way to buy raw goats milk here in Canada, even if you cannot go to the USA to buy it. Just go to your pet store like Pet Value. Most carry two brands of raw fermented goat milk. One is “Big Country Raw”…they are in Smithville. The other is “Happy Days Dairy”…they are in BC or Alberta. You can also order from Big Country Raw’s website and they will deliver to your house or you can pick-up at several locations in Southern Ont. They say on their website…”Goats are raised on nutritious year-round diet of natural NON-GMO alfalfa hay ( up to 96 % of total diet), free pasture as much as the goats take in, and a grain ration that includes a protein, mineral and gut health source. Our goat milk is also guaranteed to be free of antibiotics and hormones.”
One liter of frozen raw fermented goat milk costs $10.99. I have been buying it from a couple of local pet stores in Mississauga for a while now. Great stuff for pets & Humans!!!
Jean Paul Gutierrez
After much research I have thought of giving this a shot but was hesitant. Maybe now I will try it. I joke with my mom and tell her here in Canada some pets eat better than their owners with liver treats and raw goat milk haha. I am a little concerned about the grain ration but maybe they have to because of the winters here. just a guess. Might be better to buy in the summer I dont know.
Do you know any way to get the milk unfrozen? I hear freezing raw milk destroys some of the benefits.
Thank you so much for this info, Jeff! It’s laughable that Canadians have to go to a pet food store to get this stuff but it’s illegal to buy it in a regular store. I realized long ago that ‘health care’ isn’t about health. Blessings!
I just began doing it today. Hope it’s good quality. Funny how they think I’m buying it for my dog. But if it’s illegal in Canada why are they allowed to sell it
Shame about Covid. Can’t easily run across the border anymore.
I just watched a video with Dr. Cowan and he talked about how Louis Pasteur revealed in his diary which was read after his death that he was a fraud in a lot of areas and doctored his experimental results. Ironic that over a hundred years later we’re still being forbidden to buy unpasteurized milk.
I’m so sick and tired of the tyrannical Canadian goevernment, they have to medal in every single aspect of our lives. They enact tyrannical laws based on fraudulent science to the detriment of it’s citizens, covid has brought this to light more than anything. Raw milk is one of the healthiest things a peron can consume. Milk intolerances are caused by the overprocessing of dairy that removes the enymes already in raw milk to help humans break down lactose. The government needs to stay out people’s business and leave them alone. Why the dairy farming industry allows the government to dictate what form of milk they are “allowed” to sell is beyond me. My guess is the dairy farming industry is just as corrupt as all other big money making organizations. They get government funding to do what they are told, no doubt.
The government has no problem letting people choose to buy cigarettes or alcohol but make raw milk illegal. It’s because there’s no money in it for them. The government should be sued for discrimination. Why has nobody mentioned this??
Sarah Pope MGA
Actually, several people have challenged the Canadian government for banning access to raw milk. This is covered in a number of articles on this blog.
I bought. hormone free powdered whole milk from an American producer via internet last May. To my dismay they now cant ship to Canada. It was easiest for me b/c Im too far north to cross border. I cant drink storebought industry milk it causes bowel issues. Transitioning to the whole powdered cream/milk has been so good. Now our govrrnment wont let me get the healthier alternative!. This is ridiculous. I can freely buy marijuana..but not milk!!! The stuff our grandparents thrived on! we need to create awareness both in community and government. RAW AND HIGH FAT DAIRY IS NOT ONLY HEALTHIER ITS SAFER!!
Sarah Pope MGA
It’s all about protecting the dairy monopoly. Not protecting public health.
Sarah, you should add to your article the exception (subsection 3(2)) in the General Import Permit no. 1 (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-95-40/index.html) that relieves the CAD$20 import limit from fluid milk with less than 6% milk fat. That is to say, more simply, only the 20 kg limit (approx. 20 litres) applies to fluid milk with less than 6% fat content; on all other forms of dairy, the limit is both 20 kg and CAD$20, whichever is reached first.
Hey Michael. Can you clarify what you are saying here? Are you saying that you can bring back 20 L of milk in one trip (no matter the cost) if the fat content of the milk is less than 6%? TIA
Hi….is it ok to drink raw milk from grain fed cows if you cant get from grassfed? Trying to heal leaky gut and horrible digestion.
Sarah Pope MGA
Your call on that one. I certainly can’t judge or make a recommendation about a farm without seeing it for myself.
So if we can’t get across border, then our store is not able to make good Keifer
Hey Sarah, this is an amazing article – but I’d really love to know those people you mentioned that serve Canadians, while respecting their privacy. Would you take an email or a phone call to talk about it? If you’re located in BC or Quebec I’d be happy to offer photography or videography services in return.