Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Emergency Rules: They will destroy the Herdshare bill in West Virginia if you do not act now

We need your emails (you can use this link for a copy and paste email to make it quick, if you like or scroll to the very bottom for another email option), and we need you to ask all raw milk and freedom supporters you know to email, as well.

Lengthy and extremely restrictive Emergency Rules were filed by the Department of Agriculture in West Virginia in late June (the 27th)
These rules make it clear West Virginia's Department of Agriculture has too little desire to support smaller farmers or food freedom. West Virginia needs to support her small farmers, and we need to respect freedom.
The public has until July 26 to submit comments to the Department of Agriculture on these proposed emergency rules.

These emergency rules render the herdshare law useless and defunct. 

Keep in mind, herdshares have been operating for several months now without any of these rules, and no one has been made sick. Additionally, raw milk was being consumed across this state through sales, shares and over state line purchases year after year without notable outbreaks and without ANY regulation at all.

These rules are far outside the rulemaking abilities given to the Department of Agriculture under the law. They would render the investments share farmers have made null and void, costing each small farmer in operation or ready to be thousands of dollars on investments in palor improvements, milking equipment, livestock purchases and testing. It will cost the co-owners the milk from the herd they have already bought into, as well.

It is worth noting that the Herdshare law in WV  recognizes herdshares as Co-ownership of livestock. While the law makes it clear Sales are illegal of Raw milk and that herdshares are, by letter of the law, only co-ownership arrangements, the Department of Agriculture wishes to attempt to regulate these share agreements like operating dairy farms while giving these herdshare farmers none of the benefits dairy farmers receive. 

It is outrageous we are expected to be held to standards of a public raw milk sales facility to provide milk to co-owners of our animals.

Raw milk sales are expressly exempt under the law. How can they then attempt to set forth rules which are more extensive than the laws governing any raw milk dairies operating in the United States who are actually able to offer raw milk for sale to the public?

The herdshare law clearly states: "(f) The Commissioner of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Resources, may propose rules for promulgation in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code in compliance with raw milk dairy industry standards." ------ These rules are not in compliance in any manner with the law as it is written. 

These rules are not only far more restrictive than what a raw milk dairy selling milk to the public would be subject to, the law language concerns herdshares and expressly prevents raw milk sales of any kind. So these rules would have to be in accordance with raw milk Herdshare dairy industry standards. The current law already imposes far heavier regulation than any other state in the nation on herdshares. Testing, inspections and fees of any kind are not found in any of national raw milk herdshare law. Not only are they a tremendous overreach, they also suggest greatly inflated costs compared to what raw milk dairies pay nationally. The testing costs mentioned in these rules is purposely inflated to destroy the raw milk share farmer from having a chance at operating a share program.

West Virginia, with the language we passed, established the most restrictive herdshare law in the United States. How much more can farmers take and still operate a share program? Well, the answer is . . .nothing more. These rules must be entirely destroyed.

So, we must rejected all of these emergency rules concerning:

  • Animal Reporting
  • Temperature Regulations
  • Risk Analysis / RAMP
  • Milk Testing
  • and all other aspects of these rules

Should these rules stand, they effectively robs the farmers who have already invested in farm upgrades, equipment and extensive herd testing of their entire investments, and it robs the co-owners of their shares. No small farmer offering co-ownership can operate under these extreme guidelines when they are not actually selling milk to the public and only offer a percentage of their herd for sale. 

This file here is an exhaustive list of laws pertaining to raw milk to prove how extreme the current emergency rules are, but remember, we cannot compare raw milk public dairy laws to herdshare laws, it is comparing apples to oranges. Herdshares in all other states with laws governing them in the United States are virtually unregulated, meaning no more rules can be applied to our law without going outside herdshare industry standards, and that would be against the law, to most anyone's understanding.


Feel free to use any or all of this blog in your email or write your own. Please send emails repeatedly to the following email addresses until July 26th (not just once, please):


Please send your email at least once to these Legislative Rules Chair-people 

(Both are raw milk supporters at the legislative level)


This is a suggested email to send
jodeemartin@wvda.us; whelmick@wvda.us; cferro@wvda.us:

To West Virginia Department of Agriculture:
Whereas -
1. The public of WV has spoken and is in strong support of legislation that allows citizens of WV to choose if they want to consume raw milk.
2. The esteemed men and women of the WV legislature have worked long and hard to incorporate all objections and crafted a law that gives the citizens of WV this choice.
3. There is a lot of hype about the supposed dangers of raw milk, but no actual statistics to validate all of the concerns.
4. Raw milk has been consumed in WV for years, as citizens have brought it in from other states.
5. Neither in the timeframe that imported raw milk was consumed nor in the timeframe since herd shares have been allowed has there been an epidemic of sickness related to raw milk.
6. There has been no relationship established between the consumption of raw milk and any long term health issues.
7. On the other hand, there is a clear relationship between the use of tobacco and long term health issues, yet WV citizens are allowed to choose if they will use tobacco.
And Whereas –
1. The herd share program as designed by the West Virginia Legislature deals with fractional ownership of livestock, and thus rules related to record keeping, reporting and testing are outside the scope of the law.
And Whereas –
1. In Good faith, numerous hardworking farmers have invested heavily in order to comply with the herdshare law are now strangled by regulations.
Be it therefore Resolved that -
1. The proposed emergency rules suggested by WVDA should be discarded.
2. New Rules should be suggested that capture the spirit of the law as passed.
3. WVDA should recognize that they are the servants of the people of WV.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The "Temporarily" Defunct Herdshare Bill of West Virginia: Dirty Politics at Play

It is no secret that politics are dirty here. We've made national news for it numerous times, but the truth is, politics aren't for the people and are always crooked.

Even when it comes to milk.

Milk, people.

It is absurd we needed a law to allow us to co-own dairy animals. It is sad we believe ourselves in a free state or country when you cannot buy your food uncooked if you wish.

It is sad 7 years of work went into the West Virginia Raw Milk Herdshare bill only to see The West Virginia Department of Agriculture ( with the help of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources), Chris Ferro ( the Chief of Staff with the Dept of AG) and Walt Helmick destroy one small step toward freedom in food here (but herdshares aren't really freedom, they are just a way to inch toward REAL access to buy and sell real foods in whatever fashion an American citizen would prefer).

The West Virginia statutes on emergency rules are found in sections 29A-3-15, 29A-3-15a, and 29A-3-15b.

One saving grace is the law is written in a manner that the DHHR cannot directly impose rules, and the Department of AG can put forth rules, but they can be rejected, which is something I fought so hard for, and many of you stressed in your calls and emails, too. Had we not have done this and ended up with the law written as it is, there would be NO CHANCE of saving this law.

As it stands, the Emergency rules put toward by the Department of Ag (submitted by Ferro), are said to be enacted until the Legislature meets for Rule Making. The soonest this will happen is supposed to be September.

There are some questions as to whether the rules expire if the Attorney General or Secretary of States do not sign off on them in 30 days (I've not heard if they have signed, yet, or not, and then Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund's Pete Kennedy explained to me the WV Law says there had to be a public hearing before these went into action. I have found out the pubic comment period is open, and you MUST email immediately to express you feelings on this matter:

61 CSR 36, Herd Sharing Rule, is currently out for public comment.
Email Jodee Martin at jodeemartin@wvda.us
Your email will, in theory (not that the Department of AG is likely really going to honestly care), be attached to the agency approved rule that comes before the LRMR Committee.
Email now, though, as time is limited.
Cite that the compiled data of raw milk laws nationally do not have any regulations near the scope of what these rules entail, cite the point of these rules is to put a hardship on raw milk herdshare providers / farmers and to prevent shares from operating, cites the costs you have having opened a share or have invested in a share so far that will now be lost if these stand, cite the law states the rules must fall in line with other raw milk share laws, and there are no testing or inspections in any state nationally that have herdshare laws in effect. These rules fall far outside the confines of what the law allows and would be illegal under the herdshare law.

The Emergency rules make the herdshare bill defunct. The scope of the rules go far, far beyond on national raw milk standards even for raw milk dairies (which herdshare farms are not held to these standards at all in any state). The costs are inflated many, many times over. The rules make the herdshare bill null and void. If they are not entirely overturned in Legislative rule making, the law is meaningless.

Email every single person on Rules now and let them know you strongly oppose every aspect of the emergency rules set forth for the herdshare law. Email them monthly, and tell them you need them to make sure these rules are established in the fall when they meet. If you had started a herdshare or bought into a herdshare, explain how this horrible emergency set of rules effects you in an ecnomic manner and how your health, if you're a consumer, is effected:


When you vote in November, BE SURE to VOTE Walt Helmick out. He isn't for the small farmer or freedom. He needs out.

This file was sent to me by Pete Kennedy today from Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and it shows the laws pertaining to raw milk nationally to show how off track the current emergency rules are and how they cannot fit within the confines of the current herdshare law in WV.