Author Archives: Mollie

The Commons: Illegal no more

Farmers hail change in raw milk law that allows consumers to legally use it in their kitchens
By Olga Peters
June 22
Full Article

Thanks to recent changes in state law, farmers selling unpasteurized milk can now know whether consumers plan to use the raw milk for purposes other than “fluid consumption.”

To celebrate the revision, farmer-advocacy organization Rural Vermont and farmer Lisa Kaiman hosted a raw-milk dairy class and ice-cream social on June 8.

“We can party until the cows come home, and that isn’t until 5:00 in the morning,” said Kaiman to the dairy class participants.

Shelby Girard, an organizer with Rural Vermont, called the revised state raw-milk bill an important piece of legislation, because by legalizing the sale of raw milk, the bill “validated a traditional practice.”

When legislators enacted the original raw-milk bill in 2009, the law decreed that “the production and sale of unpasteurized milk for fluid consumption is permitted within the state.”

According to representatives from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Rural Vermont, the words “for fluid consumption” prohibited the sale of raw milk for any use other than drinking.

Not cheese. Not yogurt. Not ice cream.

This language essentially deputized farmers as milk police and wedged the government into people’s kitchens, said Jared Carter, director of Rural Vermont.

Running afoul

The issue came to the attention of the Agency of Agriculture earlier this year.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Diane Bothfeld said that the agency had issues with multiple raw-milk farmers “going afoul” of the law.

The agency also sent Rural Vermont a letter of warning in February, informing the organization that the dairy classes it hosted at raw-milk farms violated the state’s raw-milk law.

Bothfeld feels that by inserting the words “for human consumption” into the law, the agency has clarified for farmers and consumers that they can use raw milk to make products at home for their personal consumption.

The revision also “takes the whole onus off the farmer,” she said.

Farmer to consumer

Kaiman, who runs Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester, showed class participants around her raw-milk dairy.

Although the farm where Kaiman milks about 26 grass-fed Jersey cows is not certified organic, she follows organic farming guidelines. She believes that farming is less about certification and more about good practices.

Kaiman does not hide her commitment to local food and humanely raised animals. She owns WAAWWE (“We are all what we eat”) Farms Market in Gassetts. The market sells products like meat from grass-fed animals, free-range eggs, and cheeses, all from local farms.

“Mother Nature does not screw things up,” she said.

As a farmer, she sees herself in a support role to the animals in her care, although she said that she doesn’t “assume I know how to be a cow. And I definitely don’t know how to be chicken.”

She told the class members that all her calves are fed on mothers’ milk, and that in Jersey Girls’ 12 years, she has not lost a cow.

Her cow barn does not have the traditional stanchions or stalls, and most of the floor is dirt, mimicking the outdoors. Outside is where her cows like to be, unless it’s too cold or too slippery, she said.


Controversy has surrounded the sale and consumption of raw milk nationwide.

Critics like the state Department of Health say that the substance can fall host to deadly pathogens, such as bovine tuberculosis. The pasteurization process heats the milk over 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any potential bacteria.

But raw-milk proponents say that pasteurizing also alters fresh milk chemically and destroys many dairy health benefits.

Sally Fallon Morell, a journalist, nutrition researcher, and founding president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and A Campaign for Real Milk, is a well-known supporter of raw milk. She said that pasteurized milk does not offer such benefits as the ability to build a person’s immune system, because heating the milk breaks an essential protein, lactoferrin, that shuttles vitamins and enzymes.

Most of the food people buy is “dead food,” Kaiman said. “You might as well eat the packaging.”

Products like raw milk are “live products” and have good bacteria meant to keep food safe, she added.

Proponents of raw milk cite statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that show that no one has died from a food-borne pathogen in milk for 30 years. They claim that people are 10 times more likely to get listeria from deli meat, even though listeria is a pathogen that both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration predominantly warn about when it comes to raw milk.

According to Bothfeld, however, Vermont’s raw-milk regulations don’t alleviate the potential from getting sick from raw milk. “There’s no magic to say raw milk is 100-percent safe,” she said.

But, she added, everything we do contains an element of risk. “Some people like to eat raw oysters,” she noted.

What the state’s raw-milk regulations do, Bothfeld said, is to give consumers informed choice and consent.

And Girard noted that, overall, the raw-milk bill ensures best practices identified by farmers, such as cooling the milk rapidly to inhibit pathogen growth, and knowing their customers.

From illegal to legal

“Seven months ago, you all were illegal. How does that make you feel?” Carter asked the class as they learned to make food with raw milk.

The word change has made raw milk a “perfectly legal product” on the farm and in customers’ kitchens, he said.

He added that it’s “common sense” for legislation to support local farms rather than to outlaw products like raw milk or to prohibit on-the-farm slaughter. When laws prohibits these traditions, they push the products underground.

According to Carter, raw milk affords farmers greater economic security. Rural Vermont estimates that the state’s 150 raw-milk farms brought in $1 million in revenue last year.

This money went directly to farmers, he said.

Raw-milk farmers earn an average of $6 to $7 a gallon. In contrast, conventional farmers, Carter noted, earn about $1.95 a gallon, which is often less than it costs to produce the milk.

Girard said that one of the upsides to the Agency of Agriculture shutting down the dairy classes from February until May is that Rural Vermont had messages of support come “out of the woodwork.”

The dairy classes “are a really easy, fun, profitable way to bring people together” at the farm, she said, and the moratorium created a demand for classes in the summer, a traditionally slow time for dairy classes.

The new raw-milk bill has the added benefit of making consumers more self sufficient. “People need to learn how to make their own stuff,” said Kaiman.

“Even though we won this [battle], there’s one right behind it,” said Kaiman, adding that if people want farms, then they need to support their local farmers.

Kaiman added that when people see food companies reporting record profits, it should send up red flags. The only way to get those profits, she noted, is by investing little in their product and exploiting the environment and farmers.

An adversarial relationship?

Despite the legal change, Kaiman believes that some of Vermont’s agricultural regulations are still “ridiculous.”

For example, raw-milk farmers still can’t make and sell butter because of a fear of introducing harmful bacteria. But, said Kaiman, butter can’t grow harmful bacteria because it doesn’t contain any liquid to host it.

Kaiman drops some of the difficulties farmers face at the door of the Agency of Agriculture.

She described the agency’s approach to farming as more “adversarial” than its counterpart agencies in states such as New Hampshire and Maine.

When Kaiman started Jersey Girls, older farmers told her that she should rely on other farmers for technical concerns, rather than the Agency of Agriculture, because the agency might “shut [her] down.”

Kaiman wonders whether this advice derived from the fact that the agency oversees both agriculture and food safety, creating a possible conflict of interest.

Local food is safe, Kaiman insisted, and word would travel fast if local farmers engaged in bad practices that made customers sick.

To follow up on the success of the raw-milk bill, Rural Vermont is in the early stages of a Food Sovereignty Campaign. Unlike the raw-milk bill, for which the advocacy group worked mostly within the Legislature, Girard said that the campaign would operate at a grassroots, town-by-town level.

The campaign’s aim, she said, is to ensure that people can buy and sell locally without the “burdensome requirements that block honest, pure, and simple transactions” between customers and producers.

For her part, Bothfeld said that it concerns her that some farmers feel they can’t contact her agency without fear of punishment.

She said that the agency works with people so that they can meet regulations and inspections. In turn, the doors are open wide for farmers and food producers, like cheesemakers, who have new products to market.

Bothfeld added that the agency also helps farmers and producers to develop business plans, training, and other resources.

“We show them, ‘This is how you get there.’ We don’t come in and drop a hammer,” she said.

Rural Vermont and Farm Aid announce the availability of grants to support farms impacted by spring floods

In partnership with Farm Aid, Rural Vermont is excited to announce an effort to provide grant funding to a limited number of Vermont farms that where damaged by the recent rain and subsequent floods.   Rural Vermont welcomes applications from farmers for “micro-grants” of up to $500.00 that are aimed at providing financial assistance to farms attempting to cope with the record setting rain.

“As a small non-profit organization with limited financial resources, Rural Vermont is extremely aware of the impact that economic difficulties can have on Vermont farms,”  said Jared Carter, Executive Director of Rural Vermont.  “Rural Vermont is committed to doing everything within its power to create economic opportunities for Vermont farmers.  While we cannot control the weather we can use the financial resources available to us in order to help Vermont’s family farms cope with this natural disaster,” Carter adds.

Micro-grants will be awarded based on need and demonstrated commitment to Rural Vermont’s vision of a Vermont local food system which is self-reliant and based on reverence for the earth.  Completed applications are due by Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 and grants will be awarded by Friday, July 22nd, 2011.  Grant applications may be obtained here.

Rural Vermont is a nonprofit advocacy group founded by farmers in 1985 that advocates, activates, and educates for living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities. For more info, call (802) 223-7222.

Unpasteurized (Raw) Milk Sellers' Guide 2009

A comprehensive list of ways to meet the requirements of the new law. Read it HERE.

VT Digger: Rural Vermont, Agency of Ag spar over on-farm slaughter rules

by Taylor Dobbs
June 21, 2011
Full Article

The state Agency of Agriculture and Rural Vermont are at it again — this time over a misunderstanding about on-farm slaughter regulations.

The state says if meat is sold from a farm, the animals must be slaughtered under federal guidelines. Rural Vermont, an advocacy organization for small farms and local food growers, argues that state statute allows farmers to contract with consumers directly for animal husbandry and slaughtering services.

It’s the second time in six months the farm advocacy group has had a run-in with the Agency of Agriculture. Last winter, the agency shut down Rural Vermont’s popular raw milk yogurt, ice cream and cheesemaking classes. By May, the advocacy group had persuaded lawmakers to pass S.105, which clarified that raw milk may now be sold for personal consumption. Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the bill in May. The classes have been reinstated.

The current disagreement between the agency and Rural Vermont is over the on-farm slaughter of animals that have been raised for consumers under contract.

The practice, which is of growing popularity in the localvore movement, allows individuals to own animals and pay a farm to raise them. The animals are then slaughtered on the farm, processed and sent to the owner for consumption.

The state calls this practice “custom slaughter” and says such services are subject to federal sanitation requirements. According to Randy Quenneville, chief of the meat inspection program at the Agency of Agriculture, animals killed on a farm for consumption by anyone other than the property owner must be slaughtered in a sanitary room, as defined by federal regulation.

Agency policies are lenient for farmers who raise their own livestock for meat and slaughter them for their own consumption. The regulations are much stricter when slaughtered animals are sold to outside parties. Custom slaughterers are required to have a sanitary room with hot and cold water as well as washable floors, walls and ceilings, said Quenneville.

Jared Carter, director of Rural Vermont, a Montpelier-based organization that advocates for farmers, said a 2008 Vermont law allows on-farm slaughter of animals contracted to be raised by the farmer.

“Clearly the Legislature did pass a law, and we have to assume that that law meant what it says,” said Carter. The 2008 law, Act 207, states that “An itinerant custom slaughterer may slaughter livestock owned by an individual who has entered into a contract with a person to raise the livestock on the farm where it is intended to be slaughtered.”

Quenneville said the law is superseded by federal regulation.

Carter said Act 207 falls under an exemption, which states that “The custom slaughter by any person of cattle, sheep, swine, or goats delivered by the owner thereof for such slaughter … exclusively for use, in the household of such owner.”

Quenneville said the Agency of Agriculture is working with Rural Vermont to educate farmers about sanitation and the creation of sanitary rooms. He suggested farmers could renovate a barn room for that purpose. Adherence to federal standards, he said, “will help in the long run to bolster the infrastructure and make more local foods available.”

The Cornucopia Institute: USDA and Corporate Agribusiness Continue to Push Animal ID Scheme

Consumers and Independent Producers Lose if Big Ag Wins on Animal Traceability
June 21, 2011
Full Article

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to issue its new proposed rule for mandatory animal traceability very shortly. While USDA already has traceability requirements as part of existing animal disease control programs, the proposed framework goes much further to require animal tagging and tracing even absent any active disease threat. The framework has raised significant concerns among family farm and ranch advocates, who criticize the agency for failing to provide a coherent, factual explanation for the new program’s necessity.

“USDA brags about the success of past programs, but has abandoned the principles that made them successful,” argued Bill Bullard of R-CALF USA. “Past programs were based on sound science and were developed in response to the transmission, treatment, and elimination of specific identified diseases. USDA’s new approach is a one-size-fits-all approach that does not specifically aim at the control of livestock diseases.”

The USDA has presented its traceability scheme as an animal health program, but it has also reiterated the importance of the export market to the United States in promoting its new plan. The powerful meatpacking lobby has continued to push for such mandated traceability requirements in order to develop international standards for exports. Critics have suggested this is not in the American public’s best interest, however, since the U.S. is a net importer of beef and cattle and the profits from the export market go to a small handful of massive meatpacking companies.

“Factory farms can easily absorb the added economic burdens, and the meatpacking industry stands to benefit from a marketing standpoint,” asserted Judith McGeary, a livestock farmer and executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “However, the extra expenses and labor will fall disproportionately on family farmers and ranchers, accelerating the loss of independent businesses to corporate industrial-scale producers.”

“The large volume of the animals that USDA proposes to track could overwhelm the capabilities of state agencies, making it impossible to retrieve useful data if there is in fact a disease outbreak,” stated Gilles Stockton, a Montana rancher and member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Additionally, the centuries-old tradition of hot-iron branding cattle would be demoted from an official identification device. “The brand is a part of our ranching heritage and a long accepted method of animal identification,” stated Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont, in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

A coalition of farm, ranch and consumer groups urges citizens to contact their Congressional representatives and the USDA with their concern that mandatory animal traceability helps only a few giant corporations, at the expense of American family farmers and consumers.

08/17 Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce, & Ricotta- New Location!

Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing Class
Family Cow Farmstand, HINESBURG
1-4 pm
Pre-registration required with a $20-40 sliding scale fee

Rural Vermont’s raw dairy processing classes return! Learn how to make raw milk ice cream, salted caramel sauce, and ricotta at Family Cow Farmstand in Hinesburg on Wednesday, August 17th from 1-4 pm. Note new location!  All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont. Workshop followed by Raw Milk Victory Celebration and free ice cream social from 7-8:30 pm. To sign up for class or for more information, call Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or e-mail

08/17 Raw Milk Victory Celebration & Ice Cream Social- New Location!

Wednesday, August 17th
7 – 8:30 pm
Family Cow Farmstand, Hinesburg
FREE & open to the public

Raw Milk Victory Celebration and Free Ice Cream Social, Wednesday August 17th from 7 – 8:30 pm at Family Cow Farmstand at 2386 Shelburne Falls Rd. in Hinesburg. Note new location! Join Rural Vermont and raw milk enthusiasts in celebrating the passage of S.105, a bill that restores Vermonters’ rights to teach, learn, and make dairy products for home consumption! Raw milk ice cream, live music, raffle, and more! For more info, call Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or visit

08/07 Butter, Fromage Blanc & Ricotta

Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing Class
Earthwise Farm & Forest, Randolph
Pre-registration required with a $20-40 sliding scale fee

Learn how to make Butter, Fromage Blanc & Ricotta in your own kitchen! Get acquainted with adding herbs or other flavors to your final product. With simple instruction and good quality raw milk, it is an easy and exciting activity.
Information will be provided about how and where to purchase local, raw milk, instructions for the products made, plus on-line resources for further learning. *Bring a container in case you have some uneaten product to take home!

All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont. All classes require advance registration and space is limited.
To sign up OR to host/teach a class, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or

*To register for the August class, please contact Shelby Girard, Rural Vermont (802-223-7222),

06/16 Update


In this update:
– GMO Rally to support product labeling and a democratic marketplace!
– Rural Vermont Events – Dairy Classes & the Ice Cream Social Returns!
– Where to Find Rural Vermont this Summer

– Volunteer Opportunities

GMO Rally
Greetings Rural Vermonters! In addition to updating our summer schedule with dairy classes and farmer to farmer workshops, I want to invite all of you to attend an important rally to support the labeling of products that contain GMO ingredients. The rally, organized by the group Labels for Liberty, will kick-off on the State House lawn this Saturday, June 18th and run from 1-4pm. Bread and Puppet will be there to provide enlightened entertainment and we will hear from speakers such as Will Allen, Rep. Jim McCullough (co-sponsor of H.367, legislation to require product labeling), a message from Bill Mckibben as well as from Rural Vermont. This rally is an important step in the effort to promote a more democratic marketplace whereby the consuming public is able to make informed decisions about the products they purchase. The weather looks favorable and we need you to come out in force and help send a message that Vermonters support GE labeling! I look forward to seeing you there.


*** Hooray! Rural Vermont’s Raw Dairy Classes Return!

After a four month hiatus, Rural Vermont’s ever popular raw dairy processing series “Beyond Milk: Raw Dairy Processing” returned last week with dairy processing and celebrating from noon til night! Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester hosted a fun and delicious raw milk ice cream and ricotta making session during the day, followed by a Victory Celebration Ice Cream Social that evening. About 75 people from the greater Chester community gathered in the barn at Jersey Girls Dairy to celebrate the return of Rural Vermont’s dairy classes! Folks delighted in the variety of ice cream flavors – including cherry chocolate chip, raspberry, chocolate, coffee, and more – while chatting with neighbors and friends to the soundtrack of live music provided by local favorite Sam Creigh and an incredible passing thunderstorm. Much thanks to Lisa Kaiman, Susan Starr, Mary Jane Osbourne, Sam Creigh, Marian Pomeroy, Meg Riege, Lisai’s Market, and everyone who came out for making this special day a success!

* More ICE CREAM SOCIALS to be announced soon! Stay tuned for details …
In the meantime, join Rural Vermont at a BEYOND MILK: RAW DAIRY PROCESSING class in your area:

* Yogurt, Yogurt Cheese, Ricotta, Creme Fraiche, & Ice Cream with Robin McDermott

Monday, June 20th / 1 – 4 pm

Simplicity Farm, WAITSFIELD

Cosponsored by the Mad River Valley Localvore Project

(SOLD OUT – get in touch to be added to the wait list)

* Chevre (Goats’ Milk) – Making, Packaging, & Gift Giving

Thursday, July 14th / 1 – 3 pm

Foxwell Farm, NEWBURY

* Butter, Yogurt, Whipped Cream, and Buttermilk Scones

Saturday, July 23rd AND Saturday, August 13th / 1 – 4 pm

Hawk’s Hill Farm, BARNARD

* Kefir, Ricotta, and Soft Serve Ice Cream with Goats’ Milk

Thursday, July 28th / 1 – 4 pm


* JUST ADDED! Butter, Fromage Blanc & Ricotta

Sunday, August 7th / 1 -4 pm

Earthwise Farm & Forest, BETHEL

All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.

To sign up OR to host/teach a class, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or

*** Farmer to Farmer Workshop Series

From Cow to Customer: Producing Raw Milk for Direct Sale

* Thursday, July 21st / 11 am – 3 pm / the home of Susanna & Joe Grannis, WEST TOWNSHEND

* Thursday, August 11th / 11 am – 3 pm / Symphony Farm, WASHINGTON

* JUST ADDED! date TBD / 11 am – 3 pm / New Village Farm, SHELBURNE

Rural Vermont is bringing back a series that we hosted last year to help current and aspiring raw milk farmers learn about the regulations governing the sale of raw milk, and provide an opportunity for folks to see them in practice on a successful raw milk micro dairy. RV staff will walk participants through the raw milk laws and farmer hosts will discuss production methods, marketing options, and lead a farm tour, followed by a raw milk and cookie session at the end of the day! Note: These workshops are applicable to goat, sheep, and cow dairies. Bring your questions, your experience, and your brown bag lunch! Each workshop costs $10 for Rural Vermont members, and $20 for all else (noone turned away for lack of funds). Pre-registration is highly recommended. Sign up by calling Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or emailing
*** Save the Date! the 4th Annual Tour de Farms! Sunday, September 18th, 2011! Shoreham, Vermont!
If you’ve never participated in the Tour de Farms or are feeling nostalgic about the event, check out this youtube video documenting the 2010 ride … and start daydreaming about the weather warming, gardens sprouting, and roads drying out in preparation for the 2011 event! Advance registration opens July 1st. Stay tuned for more info.


*** Visit Rural Vermont’s booth at the Growing Local Fest. TODAY!!!

Thursday, June 16th from 3 – 9 pm

on the SOUTH ROYALTON green

Check out this celebration of all things local! In addition to Rural Vermont’s booth, the event will feature an expanded farmers’ market, food vendors, a speaker on community-driven food systems, full day and night of live music, and workshops on wild edibles, solar & grease power, community radio, and composting. For more info, visit

*** Visit Rural Vermont’s booth at Cedar Circle Farm’s Strawberry Festival

Sunday, June 26th from 10 am – 4 pm

225 Pavillion Rd., EAST THETFORD

Family Fun, Rain or Shine!
Get ready to celebrate strawberry season at the 9th annual Strawberry Fest! Cedar Circle has invited Rural Vermont to be on hand to talk about the steps that we’re taking to secure a solid and stable future for VT’s family farms. Come visit with us and check out live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, educational displays, a self-guided farm tour, farm-made food concessions, fresh salads, organic local ice cream, children’s activities, and more!

*** Visit Rural Vermont’s booth at the Windsor County Agricultural Fair

July 9th & 10th

Barlow’s Field on Eureka Rd., SPRINGFIELD

Visit with Rural Vermont at the “Best Little Fair in Vermont” all weekend long! Get updates on our campaigns, event schedule, and upcoming activities. Pick up some Rural Vermont merchandise, renew your membership, or just catch up with the staff and Board.

*** Rural Vermont presents “Raw Milk: Sustainable Dairy in Practice and Policy” Workshop at SolarFest!
with Rural Vermont Organizer Robb Kidd and Jersey Girls Dairy farmer Lisa Kaiman

Saturday, July 16th from 11am – 12pm

Sustainable Agriculture Tent, Forget Me Not Farm, TINMOUTH
$30 for Saturday only SolarFest pass, $65 weekend pass. Senior, youth and student discounts available, children under 12 free
*** Rural Vermont partners with the Intervale for Summervale!
Thursday, August 4th at 5:30 pm
Intervale – 180 Intervale Rd., BURLINGTON
Formerly Thursdays at the Intervale, the Summervale series runs from June through the end of August. On Thurs, Aug 4th, Rural Vermont is the Intervale’s featured partner and will be on hand to chat about raw milk, on-farm slaughter, food sovereignty, and any other ag policy questions or concerns you’ve got! Head to the Calkins Community Barn for a leisurely evening with live music, kids activities, and yummy garden goodies in the setting of the historic farmstead, minutes from downtown Burlington. Bring your own picnic dinner, or purchase American Flatbread pizza and beer onsite. For more info, visit

*** Visit Rural Vermont’s booth at the Peru Fair
Saturday, September 24th from 9 am til 4 pm
in the village of PERU
$5 entry
Come visit the Rural Vermont booth – get updates and buy your RV merchandise – at this old fashioned country fair. Around since 1978, the fair has been deemed one of “Vermont’s Top Ten events”. Expect a parade, tons of artists and crafters, Vermont fare, antiques & art exhibits, and the famous pig roast. For more info, visit

Posters- We need help putting up posters for the above events! Email and he will send you posters via email, or call and he will send some in the mail.

Join us at your local Markets and Fairs- Rural Vermont will be at events all throughout the state, and the best way to get your neighbors involved is through your involvement. Consider joining staff and other volunteers at an event this summer!

Activist Leaders in Your Town and Community Needed- Rural Vermont has engaging work all throughout the state, and we are currently looking for activists to organize your community in our upcoming Town-by-Town campaign!

Contact Robb at, or call 802-223-7222 to get involved today!!!

The Brattleboro Reformer: New raw milk law scooped up

Full Article

CHESTER — Farmers and consumers will celebrate Vermont’s new law that eases the restrictions on raw milk processing classes at an all-day session and party Wednesday.

Between 1 and 4 p.m. Rural Vermont will hold a workshop on how to make ice cream out of raw milk at the Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester.

Then at 7 p.m. the organization will hold a free ice cream social at the farm to recognize the new law, which Rural Vermont Executive Director Jared Carter said will help small farmers increase sales of raw milk directly from their farms.

“The raw dairy processing classes are an important part of educating consumers and connecting farmers to their local communities in a way that promotes a vibrant local agricultural economy,” Carter said. “This legislation represents a significant victory for farmers and a step forward in growing a self-reliant food system in Vermont.”

In 2009 the Vermont Legislature passed a law that set up a two-tier system for farmers who wanted to sell raw milk.

Smaller farms were allowed to sell up to 50 quarts per day, but some unclear wording in the law prevented the farmers from hosting any processing classes.

Jon Wright, owner of Taylor Farm in Londonderry, saw raw milk sales take off after the 2009 law allowed more sales from small farms.

He said it was important to educate the public about the safety and quality of raw milk, and said the new law should further strengthen the bonds between the farmer and consumer.

“There is so much interest in local food and raw milk has been getting an incredible amount of support,” said Wright. “Anything we can do to educate people is terrific and very important.”

The 2009 law also could have put the farm at risk if the farmer knew the raw milk was being used for anything other than drinking.

This year, after the Vermont Agency of Agriculture forced Rural Vermont to suspend its processing classes, the Legislature addressed the issue.

The wording in the law was changed to allow farms to sell the raw milk for any “personnel consumption” compared to the “fluid consumption” allowed in the 2009 law.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law on May 19 and since then, Rural Vermont has been holding a series of raw milk processing classes across the state.

Along with the ice cream class in Chester, Rural Vermont will be leading classes on butter and yogurt-making in Barnard in July, and on kefir and ricotta-making later that month in Randolph.

Small farm advocates have been pushing for greater flexibility in raw milk regulations because farmers receive every penny of profit from sales that don’t involve haulers and processors.

Educational classes allow the public to learn more about raw milk, Carter said, and the new law also protects farmers from talking about uses of their product.

Under the old law, if a farmer was asked how to make yogurt with raw milk, that farmer could have faced law suits for violating the raw milk law.

Now farmers and organizations like Rural Vermont can continue educating the public on alternative sues of raw milk, which Carter said ultimately will lead to more sales.

“Farmers are already faced with enormous pressures from the commodity milk market. This legislation supports the overall objective of economic prosperity,” said Carter. “By coming together as an agricultural community on this and future legislation, Vermont can continue to be a leader and show that farmers are the backbone of vibrant rural economies.”

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 279 or