Full list: Milk News

Rutland Herald: Harvest Watch: Milk is now available at winter farmers markets

TARA KELLY
November 04, 2014
Full Article

For years people living in Rutland have had to drive as far as Castleton or Tinmouth to buy their milk. Why? If a person wanted to follow family tradition and/or had a preference for farm fresh (raw and unpasteurized) milk — the only legal way they could get that milk was to go to a farm that sold it.

Over the past decade, the state of Vermont has undergone a major shift in how it regulates the sale of raw milk. Previous to now, sales have been hampered in part by rules that were outdated and restricted of farm sales and deliveries. But thanks to advocacy groups such as Rural Vermont, things have started to change.

New legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2014, now allows people to get farm fresh milk at farmers markets. There are a few tricks/small hoops to jump through along the way. But the convenience provided by this service will be a big improvement for those who once trekked out to a farm to pick it up directly.

Here’s how it works. A person interested in purchasing milk for pickup at a farmers market will need to pay a visit to the farm from which they intend to purchase. Customers then need to pre-order the milk for pickup at the market — no buying on the spot. These two requirements satisfy the state’s intent that a purchaser of raw milk be fully informed about the conditions of the farm from which they are purchasing the milk. The reason for this “precaution” is that for every person who swears by the high nutrition content and quality of farm fresh milk, another person is convinced that unpasteurized milk is potentially harmful. The legislation has strived to find a balance between these opposing viewpoints.

Currently, thanks to Larson Farm in Wells, customers can get their milk at Rutland’s Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays or Dorset’s Winter Farmers Market on Sundays. Larson Farm, run by Cynthia and Rich Larson, is a family- operated farm with a small herd of Jersey dairy cows. A visitor will find a well-kept barn powered by solar panels and a clear concern for keeping the milk clean and delicious. Aside from the stunning views on their property, customers will also find a variety of other farm fresh products such as eggs and meat available.

“The new law pushed forward by Rural Vermont is a major move toward more consumer choice,” Rich Larson said. “Our raw milk is nutritious and delicious with all the good enzymes that assist in digestion. Informed, health-conscious people are catching on to the benefits of unpasteurized milk, and now it is much more convenient to pick it up at the local farmers market.”

The couple, as well as their daughter Mercy, are passionate about bringing a high-quality product to customers. They will be personally attending the markets, meeting their customers, and sharing information about their farm.

Our family lives within a 15-minute drive of this farm, so we’ve been enjoying their milk for years. Our kids drink it regularly (and that of Thomas Dairy, which we also buy, and I enjoy it in my morning coffee on a daily basis.

I already buy 2 gallons a week, but I may need to start getting more. After attending the Fermentation Festival that Rutland Area Farm and Food Link co-sponsored this past weekend, I now have a simple recipe for making yogurt that was shared by Leslie Silver and Michael Beattie who have been making yogurt at their home for years. They made it seem so easy. I can’t wait to give it a try!


Wall Street Journal: Crackdown on Raw-Milk Machines Steams Fans in Europe

In Europe, Restrictions on Dispensers Have Farmers Frothing; Models That Moo
By Sarah Kent

Full Article & Video

Andrea Verlicchi, an Italian Web designer, used to leave his apartment in the mornings, stroll to a nearby vending machine and fill his recyclable glass bottle with fresh, raw milk.

“The milk is great,” said Mr. Verlicchi, like drinking it “directly from the cow.”

Vending machines that dispense fresh, unpasteurized milk have proliferated in Italy and throughout much of Europe in recent years. The stainless steel mechanical fridges can be found in supermarket parking lots, town squares and on roaming milk-mobiles. According to a “milk map” website designed by Mr. Verlicchi there are currently around 1,300 machines in Italy alone.

But even in Europe, where stinky cheeses, steak tartare and snails are all cheerfully scarfed down, the machines are under siege.

In Italy, regulators have cracked down on sales, suspending or shutting down machines that don’t meet exacting hygiene standards. Those that remain must carry big warning signs in red letters, advising buyers to boil their milk before drinking it.

Elsewhere, self-service milk machines have had it even tougher. In 2011, one popped up in the food hall of luxury London department store Selfridges, briefly sitting alongside designer cupcakes, Iberico hams and other goods favored by food fashionistas.

But the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency soured on the idea and intervened, ultimately launching a lawsuit against Selfridges and Stephen Hook, the dairy farmer behind the machine.

The FSA’s allegation that the farmer and department store breached food hygiene regulations was eventually dropped after both parties agreed to no longer sell via the vending machine. The FSA is currently considering whether to allow the wider use of the machines.

“We stopped selling following the decision by the FSA to undertake research and consultation into the product,” Selfridges said in an emailed statement.

The vending-machine shed at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, England. Dairy farmer Jonny Crickmore says he sells around 30 gallons a day, despite his farm’s remote location in the English countryside. ENLARGE
The vending-machine shed at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, England. Dairy farmer Jonny Crickmore says he sells around 30 gallons a day, despite his farm’s remote location in the English countryside. Sarah Kent/The Wall Street Journal

The machines are technically allowed in England, but only if they are located on the farm where the milk is produced. England’s producers say that defeats the purpose of the vending machines, which should make the milk more accessible.

“Are we going to…just remain a raw-milk backwater?” said Mr. Hook, who manages Hook & Son, the U.K.’s biggest raw-milk vendor and starred in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival surprise hit, “The Moo Man,” a documentary about him and his favorite cow, Ida.

It is a question being asked in Germany too, where the rules on vending machines are similar to those in England. There, the local chapter of Slow Food—an international organization focused on promoting environmentally friendly and local food—has held raw-milk tastings and campaigned for less severe regulation of raw-milk sales.

Ever since 1864, when Louis Pasteur discovered the process of pasteurization, industrialized countries have flash-heated milk to remove dangerous bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and bovine tuberculosis. The developed world has since carefully controlled the sale of unpasteurized dairy products.

In the U.S., where raw-milk sales are heavily regulated and banned outright in several states, the Food and Drug Administration has on occasion conducted raids on farms in search of illicit dairy products.

Even within the European Union, countries are left to make their own laws on how and if raw milk may be sold. In Scotland, the sale of unpasteurized milk is banned outright because of a serious food poisoning outbreak in the 1980s. In Ireland, raw-milk sales are legal, but the vending machines aren’t.

Proponents say high-tech features make the milk machines safe. Special valves stop the milk from flowing if it gets too warm. More sophisticated machines can send texts to farmers if there is a malfunction or the milk supply is running low. Some models even moo as they dispense milk.

The backlash against mechanical milk dispensers has left some of Europe’s small dairy farmers frothing.

Dairy farmer Jonny Crickmore bemoans the health warning he is required to put on his milk bottles. “I think it’s over-dramatic,” he said, standing outside the shed painted in cow-style black-and-white that houses the raw-milk vending machine on his farm in Suffolk.

Enthusiasts say risks are minimal. Many swear by the microbacteria-rich liquid’s health benefits, claiming raw milk can help cure ailments like asthma and allergies. Some even drink it on doctor’s orders.

And then there is the taste.

Calves at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, England, which sells fresh, raw milk in vending machines at the farm ENLARGE
Calves at Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, England, which sells fresh, raw milk in vending machines at the farm Sarah Kent/The Wall Street Journal

“It is a delicious food that is quite unlike pasteurized milk. It is all we have in the house,” said Gerry Danby, a lawyer focused on supporting artisan and local food producers and former chair of Slow Food U.K.

“I would be very put out, to say the least, if that were to be prohibited,” he added.

But raw-milk fans say that restricting sales would just drive trade underground onto a black market. English farmers already maintain a brisk trade taking advantage of the fact it is legal for them to sell milk in England, which then gets trucked over the border to Scotland.

Raw-milk producer Ian O’Reilly said he sends anywhere between 10 and 40 gallons a week to customers in Scotland though he could send more if he could only find a cheaper courier to take the boxes packed with bottles up to the Highlands. For now, he can’t cater to customers in more remote locations.

Even with all the restrictions hampering sales, some farmers say they still can’t keep up with demand for the organic, unpasteurized milk.

“We have people approaching us all the time saying they want to buy raw milk and the biggest stumbling block is access,” said Mr. Hook.

At Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, Mr. Crickmore’s machine attracts a loyal following. He said he sells around 30 gallons a day, despite his farm’s remote location in the English countryside.

“It is mad, 40 or 50 people a day come to our farm…we have one crazy fool who comes” from a town nearly two-hours’ drive away, said Mr. Crickmore, as he refilled the tank in his vending machine for the second time in one afternoon.

“He’ll come and clear out the vending machine. He’ll take 30 liters [8 gallons] at a time and fill up the back of his car.”


Food Safety News: Carriers are Dropping Liability Coverage for Raw-Milk Producers

Some folks who drink raw milk probably already see themselves as risk-takers, but they may not have thought about the fact that drinking their favorite beverage increasingly means not just taking risk but, for the producers, also “going bare.”

“Going bare” is what the insurance industry calls it when someone opts to go without coverage either because they cannot afford it or because it is just not available. For at least the past two years, reports have popped up around the country about raw-milk producers having difficulty obtaining or continuing insurance coverage.

One example came early in 2012 when the Farm Bureau-owned Rural Mutual Insurance Co. sent out notices about all Wisconsin farm policies it covers specifically advising policyholders that their coverage does not provide for “the sale and/or distribution for offsite consumption of unpasteurized (commonly called raw) milk from cows, sheep and goats for human consumption.”

Retail sales of raw milk are illegal in Wisconsin, but off-site consumption of unpasteurized milk bought on the farm is legal. However, raw milk picked up on the farm has apparently become too risky for insurance coverage in Wisconsin.

What began as decisions by individual carriers who sell policies directly to small farms is now a concern for the big re-insurers such as Kansas City, MO-based Aon Risk Solutions. It is more of an insurance company for insurance carriers and helps to keep the industry solvent by spreading risk.

“Most of the entities we work with are larger commercial operations and are not engaged in the sale of raw milk,” explained Tami Griffin, deputy national director for Aon’s Food Systems, Agribusiness & Beverage Group.

“That said,” she told Food Safety News, “we do work with, and have relationships with, underwriters who are in the business of insuring farms, and I would say that they are increasingly concerned about what farmers are selling to consumers through farmers markets, farm stands, etc.”

“Because of the press that raw milk gets, it is definitely on the radar of insurance companies, and I have heard some carriers are not willing to provide coverage for those selling it,” Griffin added.

Insurance coverage going away is still coming as a surprise for some raw-milk producers. Dog Mountain Farm near Carnation, WA, outside Seattle — a stop on many a foodie’s tour itinerary — recently learned that its carrier was dropping its raw-milk coverage.

Dog Mountain runs a farm-to-table café offering a menu for three meals a day, with patrons being a mix of those food tourists and area residents. They had invested $75,000 in a USDA-certified raw goat milk dairy and then found they had lost their liability insurance.

For a raw-milk producer, going bare carries the same risk as going without automobile or home insurance. It means being responsible for any kind of damages or injuries without being able to share that risk with an insurance company.

It is not uncommon for treatment of a child or senior citizen injured by a pathogen such as E. coli O157:H7 or Listeria to result in direct medical costs exceeding $1 million. It makes the decision to go bare literally a bet-the-farm kind of decision.

While tough to get, raw-milk insurance has not totally gone away. Kendall Turner, a Denver insurance broker, advertises on the web that such coverage is still available.

“Recently, it has become very difficult for dairy farms to obtain liability coverage for the sale of raw milk,” Turner said, adding that he can determine in about 20 minutes if someone qualifies for coverage.

He said that the “biggest challenge for the farmer is to understand is that the insurance company sometimes has more rules than the state … .”


Seattle Times: After $75K investment, raw milk dairy in Carnation (WA) unable to get insurance

By Rebekah Denn
October 2, 2014
Full Article

Last year, Cindy Krepky realized her long-held dream of building a raw milk goat dairy on her Dog Mountain Farm near Carnation. After building her herd and investing $75,000 in a USDA-certified plant, she provided bottled milk from her does to customers through her farm store, CSAs and other outlets.

Now, she told customers, her insurance company will no longer cover raw milk sales. While the product is legal (though controversial) in Washington state, insurance coverage has been an issue for other farms nationwide. (For the lowdown on the Washington situation, click here.)

She’s looking for other insurance coverage, or considering leasing the goats. She plans to provide milk to the up-and-coming Cherry Valley Dairy for a new line of goat cheese. A Cherry Valley cheese maker just spent time in Italy learning to work with goat milk, and Krepky expects the results to be “incredible.” Still, now, she doesn’t expect now to ever recoup her investment in the dairy and bottling plant – or to achieve the goal she worked toward for so many years on the land where the sustainably-minded farmers also oversee vegetables and fruits, pigs, chickens and eggs, and other products from soups to jams.

“Such is the life of farming,” Krepky said philosophically by phone Wednesday, momentarily postponing a rabbit slaughtering. “You never know whether it’s going to be Mother Nature or some new regulation… It’s a very risky business.”


VT Digger: Raw milk producers say new rules hurt business

By Morgan True
Oct. 1 2014
Full Article

Raw milk producers held a news conference Wednesday to say new Agency of Agriculture policies are making an otherwise friendly law more burdensome.

The agency is simply implementing changes to the state’s raw milk regulations that became law this year, responded Diane Bothfeld, deputy secretary of dairy policy.

Those changes allow Tier 2 raw milk producers, or farmers generating more than 50 quarts per day, to deliver their product to customers’ homes or farmers markets.

Previously, raw milk could only be sold at the farm where it was produced. Since the new point of delivery rules became law, the number of Tier 2 producers has grown from two to eight with several more slated to increase production to that level soon, said Andrea Stander, director of Rural Vermont.

But the way the Agency is implementing the law change threatens that growth, Stander said.

The original raw milk law, passed in 2009, required producers to regularly send milk samples to certified labs to check bacteria levels. A new policy requires that samples be sent to labs in the containers in which the milk will be sold.

That requirement is wasteful and will make it costly to have their milk tested, milk producer Rich Larson said.

The new regulations took effect Wednesday, and Stander said despite a formal letter to the Agency of Agriculture, producers were not given an opportunity weigh in on how the rules would be implemented.

Rich and Cynthia Larson, Tier 2 producers from Wells, said the regulations were implemented “suddenly,” and caught them off guard.

The agency contacted all Tier 2 producers registered at the end of August and delayed implementation by a month, Bothfeld said, adding that the regulations were originally set to take effect in September.

The agency is implementing new laws, not going through a formal rulemaking process, Bothfeld said, and no public comment period was required.

However, Bothfeld said the agency is willing to take input from producers and Rural Vermont, but that can’t happen until early November because the agency needs time to review its own policies.

Farmers expressed concern that during the interim their businesses could suffer and they could face fines if they’re unable to comply with the new regulations.

Labs only need a two-ounce sample to test for bacteria, said Nick Zigelbaum, director of Bob-White Systems Inc., an FDA certified laboratory in South Royalton. Farmers typically sell their milk in half-gallon or quart containers.

Zigelbaum joined the producers and advocates Wednesday, because he said the state should be making it easier for farmers to have their products tested, not create barriers to testing.

Bothfeld said the new law requires that sale containers be tested in addition to the milk to ensure there’s no bacteria in the containers that’s not also in the milk.

Her agency, charged with implementing the change, decided that requiring samples to be sent in the sale container was the best way to do that.

In addition to Bob-White Systems, farmers can send their samples to the state-run lab, which is temporarily housed at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Testing is free at the state lab, but Bothfeld acknowledged that for some producers, sending their samples to Burlington could be costly.

The agency is willing to see if there is another way to check sales containers for bacteria, Bothfeld said.

Producers must notify all delivery customers if a sample exceeds the bacteria threshold for raw milk.

Vermont’s raw milk law is based on the informed consent of consumers, Bothfeld said, and producers were previously able to meet that requirement by posting bacteria levels at the farm.

But now with additional points of delivery, consumers must be notified of the most recent bacteria counts at that place.

It’s not uncommon for producers to have milk retested to ensure accurate results, Larson said, but with the increased cost of testing, he’s worried he might lose customers or face fines.

Gov. Peter Shumlin walked passed the news conference on his way from the Statehouse, and took a moment to chat with farmers.

Shumlin voiced support for the fledgling raw milk industry, and said he drinks raw milk occasionally, but didn’t wade into the discussion.


WCAX: Vt. farmers cry foul over new raw milk rules

Oct 01, 2014
Full Article & Video

MONTPELIER, Vt. – New policies on the sale of raw milk in Vermont started Oct. 1, and dairy farmers who sell the unpasteurized milk are crying foul.

At a press conference Wednesday, they said the new testing procedures will add unreasonable costs for farmers and will not produce a better product for consumers.

“We had a successful amendment to the raw milk law last spring from the Legislature which allow these tier two farmers to deliver their milk to their customers at farmers markets, which has opened up some economic opportunity for this part of the agricultural economy. This policy goes exactly in the opposite direction,” said Andrea Stander of the group Rural Vermont.


WCAX: Raw milk producers protest new Vt. rules

Sep 30, 2014
Full Article

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont Legislature passed a law to make it easier for farmers to sell raw milk, but raw milk producers don’t like the new rules.

Rural Vermont, a farm advocacy group, is sending a formal letter of protest to the Agency of Agriculture, saying the new rules burden farmers with unjustified costs and discriminate against producers and consumers.


Burlington Free Press: Vt. Technical College is future site for state lab

Nancy Remsen
September 5, 2014
Full Article

Vermont Technical College received unanimous endorsement Friday as the future site for a new laboratory operated by the state agencies of agricultural and natural resources. The college in Randolph was one of 19 sites state officials evaluated.

After an hour of questions, the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee gave the Department of Buildings the green light to move to the next phase of planning the laboratory project. The new lab would replace twin facilities destroyed when Tropical Storm Irene inundated the Waterbury Office Complex in 2011.

The dual mission guiding the services offered by the two labs is to protect human, animal and environmental health and foster commerce. Some recent laboratory work has included testing 1,000 samples from homes to determine if a dangerous pesticide had been used to eradicate bedbugs and testing of animal feed after Tropical Storm Irene flooded thousands of acres of cropland.

Since Irene, the two agencies have operated with reduced laboratory capabilities in five rented spaces, with the bulk of their work carried out in the Hills Building owned by the University of Vermont. The lease runs out in 2017 — which led state officials to focus new attention on finding a location and constructing a new building.

The charge for the two labs is to protect human and animal health, environmental health and foster commerce. Some recent laboratory work has included testing 1,000 samples from homes to determine if a dangerous pesticide had been used to eradicate bedbugs and testing of animal feed after Tropical Storm Irene flooded thousands of acres of cropland.

Several lawmakers on the oversight panel noted that details of the laboratory’s relationship with the college had yet to be negotiated. Despite the nominal lease, they worried the state might be stuck with some unexpected “overhead” expense.

“What is the financial arrangement?” asked Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia.

“We don’t view this as a revenue generator,” assured Dan Smith, interim president of Vermont Technical College. He said locating the lab at the college would offer myriad opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate with lab staff and for lab staff to utilize college classrooms and other spaces.

“This is not just another building on a college campus to us,” Smith wrote in a letter shared with lawmakers in advance of Friday’s meeting. “This is an opportunity to maximize the state’s limited resources in a way that serves the most Vermonters and will benefit generations of Vermonters to come.”

Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said talks with the college about ways to collaborate could begin next week — if lawmakers selected the technical college site. Buildings department officials also said talks would get underway on property management issues such as plowing, shared heating and cleaning.

State officials had made replacing the twin labs a lower priority compared to constructing a new state psychiatric hospital and replacing the office space lost in Waterbury. The hospital opened this summer and the new office complex is under construction.

Legislators also asked the state to research whether the laboratory services could be provided privately.

The study, delivered last winter, recommended the state continue to operate its own laboratory program. The report also said the two agencies should operate a consolidated laboratory.

Justin Johnson, deputy secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, said the plan is for the laboratory to “sit in Agriculture” and for some laboratory personnel now in ANR to transfer to the agriculture agency. “The programs in the Department of Environmental Conservation would be customers of the lab,” he said. There would be a board with representatives from both agencies to oversee the collaboration.

Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P Chittenden, asked why the University of Vermont failed to score well as a potential site, given it, too, had potential to offer student and faculty collaboration. UVM proposed two possible locations.

“There was a very large flaw with both sites — the amount of room available,” explained Sandra Vitzthum, project manager with the Department of Buildings.

Ashe also asked if there would be workforce problems by choosing a more rural location rather than one in Washington or Chittenden counties.

Ross argued that it was more important to locate the lab in the best place to achieve its public mission rather than try to accommodate workers’ preferences based on their commutes.

Lawmakers also voiced concern that the design of the laboratory could boost future operating costs. That was what happened with the new state psychiatric hospital.

“I would put that forward as something to pay attention to,” Kitchel told state officials.

Assured that the Legislature would have future opportunities to reject the site or tweak the project as it unfolds, the committee voted 9-0 to select the Vermont Technical College site.


Seven Days LTE: Raw Deal

8/20/14
By Andrea Stander
Full Letter to the Editor

[Re “The Rise of Micro-Dairy: A Longtime Dairyman Thinks Big — By Going Small” and “Milk Test,” August 6]: I appreciate Seven Days‘ coverage of raw milk and other food issues, but there are a couple of points I’d like to clear up:First, the author’s use of the word “trafficking” in reference to farmers who are selling raw milk perpetuates the idea that raw milk is some kind of radical, under-the-table commodity. The regulations are complex, but it is legal to sell raw milk in Vermont. In fact, generations of Vermonters were and continue to be raised on raw milk. Before milk became an industrial commodity rather than a food, most people in rural areas purchased their milk from their local farmer.

Second, if Vermont truly wants to have viable farms, there has to be room for small, grass-based, raw dairy operations, and the regulations that govern them must be reasonable and fair. As the potential customer quoted in the article said, “If all products were sold that way, I’d never buy anything.” What would happen to Vermont’s celebrated local food economy if everyone had to visit the farm before purchasing products at a farmers’ market? Or, what if all farmers had to waste precious time and fuel running around delivering their products to customers’ homes?

If you want to learn more about raw milk as a farm-fresh product or as an agricultural policy issue, please contact Rural Vermont. Visit ruralvermont.org or call 223-7222 for details.

Andrea Stander
Montpelier

Stander is executive director of Rural Vermont.


Fort Worth Weekly: Got Raw Milk? (Texas)

Fort Worth puts greater distance between producers and consumers of unpasteurized milk.
August 20, 2014
By EDWARD BROWN
Full Article

One hour south of Fort Worth, the serene setting of Rosey Ridge Farms fits the often-romanticized image of agrarian life. The roads are unpaved, and there’s barely a trace of modernity among the lush, seemingly endless fields of sunflowers and other crops. Proprietor Eldon Hooley has been working the land for eight years with his wife Lisa and their six children.

Two months ago, the Fort Worth City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits individuals from distributing raw milk from their homes. Although some doctors believe the substance has certain medical benefits, health officials see serious risks, including the spread of infectious diseases. Retailers have been prohibited from selling raw milk for decades, prompting many local raw milk lovers to drive to farms like Rosey Ridge, pick up containers, and take them home to distribute.

To Kay Singleton, a longtime resident of the Arlington Heights area, the ordinance is an affront. She became interested in unprocessed foods several years ago out of concern for her grandson’s health. After discovering raw milk, she decided to volunteer her porch as a drop point for individuals to pick up containers. She purchased an expensive cooler to keep the milk cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit –– unpasteurized milk does not have as long a shelf life as the pasteurized version.

Then the problems with the city started. At first, Singleton said, city code compliance officials began regularly “intimidating the driver who was unloading the milk” and would tell her that what she was doing was illegal.However, with no state law or city ordinance restricting raw milk distribution, she was convinced she wasn’t violating the law.

In May, four state health inspectors, two code compliance officers, and a police officer came to her house.

“They came and scared the bejesus out of my grandson by saying in front of him that I could go to jail,” she said. “Their tone was aggressive, as if I was a criminal.”

Singleton is so dedicated to remaining a part of the raw-milk community that she believes she has no option now but to move out of Fort Worth. Her home is for sale.

The ordinance, Hooley said, is “simply saying, ‘We’re going to take your rights away.’ ”

He said inspectors from the TexasDepartment of State Health Services have unfairly targeted his farm and, on at least one occasion, suspended his license (a Grade A raw for-retail milk permit) without due process. After Hooley filed a complaint, he said, one of the department’s directors called him, apologized, and reinstated his permit.

“If consumers do their research, and they decide what food they want, then they have a personal interest in it,” he said. “Now people want to buy direct from people they trust to provide whole foods.”

State Rep. Dan Flynn of Hunt County has been working on the topic for years: “The state law says raw milk is legal. Why can’t a legal product be sold at a farmers’ market?”

Raw milk has been verboten at farmers’ markets since 2000. Flynn said that if they can begin selling raw milk, individuals would have no need to take matters into their own hands. He recently sponsored a bill to allow the sale of raw milk in farmers’ markets, but it never made it to a floor vote. “It was late in the session, and time ran out” he said.

At committee hearings, more than 250 people testified, including numerous doctors who spoke about the medical benefits of raw milk in treating psoriasis and respiratory problems. “It would be disappointing if Fort Worth’s city council didn’t want the innumerable medical benefits from raw milk,” Flynn said.

Fort Worth spokesperson Bill Begley said the ordinance places “reasonable limitations” on the distribution of unpasteurized milk without prohibiting local residents from purchasing or consuming it –– only directly from farmers.

Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund that works to protect American farmers’ right to engage consumers directly, said the consumer health division of Fort Worth’s code compliance department is one of the most intrusive agencies he’s ever seen. Texas, he added, is one of the few places where state law allows the sale of raw milk while many cities ban it.

Despite the concerns of the Texas Medical Association and State Health Services, among others, Flynn plans to keep fighting.

“We have every intention of filing the bill again,” he said.