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
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.

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