Raw pet milk sales are now legal in Maryland, one of the most anti-raw milk states in the U.S. A grass-based dairy, P.A. Bowen Farmstead of Brandywine, has obtained approval1 to sell raw pet milk from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. P.A. Bowen Farmstead, owned and operated by Weston A. Price Foundation President and FTCLDF board member Sally Fallon Morell along with her husband Geoffrey, has begun selling raw milk at its on-farm store.
The sale of raw milk for human consumption has long been illegal in Maryland. In 2006, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH) issued an emergency regulation banning herdshare contracts; a court challenge to the herdshare ban was unsuccessful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the center of opposition to raw milk in this country, has its headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and major offices in Rockville and College Park.
There have been numerous attempts over the years to pass legislation legalizing the sale or distribution of raw milk for human consumption but delegate Peter Hammen, the Chair of the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee, has been able to stop all raw milk bills from getting out of his committee.
As far as is known, the Maryland Department of Agriculture had never approved the sale of raw pet milk before even though the Department has long had the legal authority to do so. Maryland now joins other states such as Florida, Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina in allowing the sale of raw milk for animal consumption.
Despite the state banning herdshare agreements by regulation, there is still a possibility that farmers and dairy livestock owners would be able to enter into a legal herdshare contract. In a 2009 opinion rejecting a challenge to the herdshare ban on the facts of the case before it, a Maryland Appellate Court in its decision stated:
- it is not illegal in Maryland for the owner of a dairy cow to drink the raw milk which that cow produces;
- it is not illegal in Maryland to sell a fractional interest in a herd of dairy cattle; and
- it is not illegal in Maryland for an agister to provide agistment services by boarding and caring for dairy cows owned by others.2
“Agister” is a legal term for someone who provides services for the boarding and care of livestock.
There are now less than ten states that prohibit any sale or distribution of raw milk for human or animal consumption. Watch for updates of the Raw Milk Nation map.
Congratulations to Sally Fallon Morell for breaking new ground in Maryland.
1 The way the approval process works in Maryland is that a producer interested in selling pet milk files an application for registration of the product with the Office of the State Chemist, a division of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. If the State Chemist approves the application then the applicant is officially registered and can start selling the product.
2 Kevin Oyarzo v. Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene et al, 187 Md. App. 264, 268 (2009)