The Ohio Department of Agriculture is clamping down on dairy farmers who enter into "herd-share" agreements in an effort to evade the ban on the sale of raw milk.
The state's Department of Agriculture revoked a Darke County farmer's milk producers license this week after finding that its "herd-share" agreement to distribute raw milk was an attempt to evade laws against selling the unpasteurized product. Officials announced the decision Thursday.
Raw milk advocates have said they established herd-share programs with farmers to circumvent the law. The arrangement allows people to buy portions of cows on a farm and then pay a boarding or management fee; in exchange, shareholders receive dairy products.
State law does not prohibit individuals from drinking raw milk taken from their own cows. The law does not address the issue of herd-share contracts.
But Ohio Agriculture Director Fred Daily wrote in this week's revocation decision that the state intended its ban on raw milk sales to apply across the board: "To hold otherwise would defeat the intent of the legislature to protect the public health," Daily wrote.
I am not a fan of raw milk myself, but I hardly think the state needs to go after those who are. I also think it is a reasonable assumption that anyone who goes through the trouble of entering a "herd-share" agreement is sufficiently aware of the risks of raw milk consumption that they do not need the state's "protection" from their own choices in this regard.