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.
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):
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send your email at least once to these Legislative Rules Chair-people
(Both are raw milk supporters at the legislative level)