Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
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Defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting
consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods.
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Info - Cow and Goat Shares
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Shorten your learning curve. Register now for Cow-Share College and Goat-Share University. You can attend these economical classes from the privacy and comfort of your home via the telephone.

Cow or Goat-Share Programs Can Save Family Farms!
At the same time that commercial pre-pasteurized milk prices are falling, the demand for quality raw milk from pastured cows and goats using non-toxic, humane and sustainable farming practices is soaring.  

How are we helping save family farms?  Each week we help 4 - 5 new family farm members become cow or goat-share operations.

For our members we -

  • Provide free legal consultations with Pete Kennedy, Board VP, expert raw milk lawyer and author of www.realmilk.com. He’ll provide legal contracts for farmers (or consumers) who want to start a cow or goat-share and answer questions like
    • What’s the best kind of operation for my state? 
    • Are cow-shares legal in my state?
    • What kind of contracts do I need?
    • What are my risks/benefits?   
    • Do I need an LLC?
    • What’s the differences between a cow or goat-share, herd-share or a farm-share?
  • Review cow or goat-share contracts for existing operations.

Why We Need Cow or Goat-Share Programs
Healthy raw milk is available in stores in California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Mexico. In many other states you can buy milk directly from farmers at the farm.  However, in some states, such sales are illegal; a farmer can lose his or her Grade A license and even go to jail for selling consumers unprocessed milk directly. In these states, consumers have been able to obtain raw milk directly from farmers by purchasing a share in a cow, goat or in the whole herd. Even in states where sales of raw milk are legal, the permits (or inspection fees) are often very expensive. Cow or goat-share programs allow farmers to provide raw milk to consumers without cumbersome and expensive paperwork mandated by the state.

How Cow or Goat-Share Programs Work
The consumer purchases a share in a milk cow, goat or dairy herd. The farmer and the consumer enter into a contract whereby the farmer feeds and boards the animal and provides the labor to milk the animal and store the consumer’s milk. Such contracts are legal and valid, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. The consumer does not buy milk from the farmer. Rather, they pay the farmer for the service of keeping the cow or goat and his labor for milking and processing the milk into value added products such as butter, cream, cheese, etc. However, they may directly purchase other products from the farm, such as eggs, vegetables and meat.

Cow and goat-share programs protect the farmer from liability since the animal belongs to the consumer and the consumer is drinking the milk from their own animal.

Raw Milk Micro Dairy Farming vs. Conventional Dairy Economics

Raw Milk Micro Dairy Economics Chart

Click Here for Print Friendly Version

Conventional Small Dairy Economics
Costs are high:

  • Feed (grain, supplements, etc.)
  • Vet bills (cows are always sick)
  • Replacement cows (cows live only 42 months)
  • Artificial breeding (hard to get cows pregnant)
  • Interest on debt (capital to purchase expensive equipment).

Small dairy farmers cannot make a living on this model, which is why in 2002, dairy farms in the US went out of business at the rate of 16 per day.

Cow-Share Economics (Raw Milk Micro-Dairy)
Costs are low:

  • Feed cost minimal (sunlight is free!)
  • Vet bills are low (cows are healthy)
  • No replacement-cow costs (Cows breed easily, replace themselves, live 12-15 years)
  • Interest on debt much lower (not as many capital costs)

Find Share Holders for Your Cow or Goat-Share Operation

  • Find the Weston A. Price Foundation Local Chapter Leader in your area. They provide an important volunteer function - connecting consumers with local farmers. Click here to find a Chapter Leader near you.
  • List your cow or goat-share on the www.realmilk.com website. It’s a free listing service.

Next Steps

  • Join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Once you receive your approval email, you can call and ask to speak with Pete Kennedy for a legal consultation and contracts.

Press and Posts:

May 6, 2009 - Couple deliver raw milk from their farm to suburbs

Checklist for Cow-Shareholders

Before you purchase a cow-share, be sure that:

  • Cows graze on unsprayed pasture except during the coldest time of the year and are fed hay and silage when in barns.
  • The herd is tested free of TB and brucellosis.
  • Teats of cows are cleaned with approved solution before milking.
  • Cows are milked in a clean barn or milking parlor.
  • Milk is kept chilled.
  • Milk is tested regularly to ensure absence of pathogens.

Since most cow-shareholders are not farmers, you might benefit from buying the "Raw Milk Production Handbook" by Tim Wightman. It’s an easy and interesting handbook, and can provide you a basis of understanding so the you can have informed discussions with your cow-share operator. We also highly recommend "Safe Handling - Consumers' Guide" by Peggy Beals, RN.