As most of you know, the sale of raw milk is federally prohibited. State-by-state laws vary widely (view our map here). In some states, access is only permitted via a herdshare program. Herdshares, more on them below, help satisfy the increasing demand for raw milk. We are seeing more and more interested farmers looking to begin their own operations. We’re also seeing members with already established operations looking to expand to meet demand.
One of the benefits of a Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) membership is help from our expert attorneys with contractual documents—like herdshare contracts. We are proud to help increase access to raw milk and love to learn about herdshare member success stories like the Streit’s.
Joe and Janet Streit own and operate Double J Farm in Hamilton, Ohio. They have been members of FTCLDF since 2015 and run a booming herdshare program. This week we are highlighting Joe and Janet’s operation and their success in providing wholesome, nutritious raw milk to their community in Ohio.
Joe and Janet started farming later in life. Thirty years ago, they purchased land in Ohio where their future farm would operate. The property was attractive to Joe because it had an old log structure. Joe was in the restoration business, and he planned to restore it. They leased the rest of the property for farming and operated their restoration business for the next several years.
As the years passed, Joe and Janet began struggling with their health. They researched nutrition, and like many, this research led them to the teachings of Weston A. Price and the Weston A. Price Foundation. They adopted a diet of traditional foods and embraced eating off the farm. Soon enough, they took their relationship with food one step further, and at 60 years old took over their farm!
Joe and Janet started raising grassfed beef and soon became interested in the health benefits of raw milk. They began milking one cow for raw milk, but word spread and people in the community were knocking down their door for the elixir. It quickly became apparent that raw milk was in demand and this was an excellent business opportunity.
Ohio law prohibits the sale of raw milk and dairy items. To obtain access to raw milk, Ohioans must own their own cows or belong to a herdshare program. Joe and Janet equate their herdshare program to that of owning stock in a company. They take care of the cows on their farm, and members pay a set amount per month to help them care for their share of the cows. Members then receive their choice of milk and/or dairy products such as butter, cream, cultured buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt.
The cows have access to the outdoors year-round and to pasture during the grazing season. In the winter time, Joe and Janet sprout barley in a hydroponic grass system so the cows can have fresh green grass year-round. All of the animals on the farm eat non-GMO, soy-free feed. The Jersey dairy cows receive one scoop of grain at each milking to replenish the minerals and energy they put into their rich, creamy milk.
The demand for raw milk is so high that Joe and Janet are now milking 30 cows and providing 450 shares for their fellow Ohioans. Growth is consistent, and they have added several big barns to their property along with a milking parlor. At 76 years old, Joe no longer has arthritis, and he attributes it to the nutritional benefits of raw milk.
Joe and Janet are continuing to look towards the future and figure out ways to make their operation as efficient as possible. Next steps are to make the switch to glass bottles and to utilize an automatic bottling system. Joe estimates that switching from plastic to glass bottles will save them nearly $8,000 a year.
Joe and Janet are just one example of responsible and proud raw milk producers and consumers. They are providing a much needed, healing service to their Ohio community, and we are hopeful that more people will follow in their footsteps. Raw milk can be a magical, nutritious food, and Joe claims he has “stories that you wouldn’t believe about how raw milk has helped people.” I think we can all agree: we would love to hear those stories.
P.S. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement next week about herdshares!
YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.