Texas is one of the many states where sales of raw milk are legal. However, unlike some states, Texas does not permit raw milk to be sold off the farm where it’s produced.
In other words, you can not buy raw milk at a farmer’s market or in a retail store. I am lucky enough to live a few miles down the road from a raw milk dairy, so I can drive up to the farm store and pick up milk once a week without any hassle. Unfortunately, many other Texas raw milk drinkers aren’t so lucky.
Some consumers who live quite far from the farms that produce their milk have taken to arranging a sort of driving/delivery system where a group representative buys the milk at the farm and delivers it to drop points in various locations where participants reimburse the driver. Or buyers place orders “at the farm” over the phone or online, but the farm delivers the milk to them. Arguably, these practices are illegal, a mere play on words to mask a violation of the spirit of the law while still adhering to its letter.
Last week, the state of Texas actually cracked down on one such dairy farm, forcing it to dump 700 gallons of perfectly good milk and temporarily suspending the dairy’s raw milk license.
Miller Dairy Farm, located just south west of San Antonio, delivered milk to the city’s residents in a refrigerated van at pre-determined drop points. Customers technically placed and paid for orders at the farm (online), and the farm then drove to neighborhood drop points for delivery.
Unfortunately, a neighbor near one of the drop points complained about the resulting traffic as swarms of raw milk mommas parked their minivans up and down the crowded neighborhood street, so the Texas Department of State Health Services got wind of the illegal practice.
They suspended Miller’s raw milk dairy license, forcing him to dump $5000 worth of milk down the drain. This is the video Miller posted to his Facebook page.
Are you outraged?
Watching perfectly good, nutrient-dense food get wasted riles me up. It turns out, I’m not alone.
Consumers all across the state are wondering what they can do to prevent this from happening in the future.
Thankfully, there is something you can do.
A bill before the Texas legislature would legalize off-farm sales of raw milk. HB 46, authored by Representative Flynn, would make it legal to sell licensed raw milk at farmer’s markets, drop points, and through delivery.
A similar bill did not pass in the last Texas legislative session, largely due to the lobbying of the Harris County Public Health Department, the Texas Medical Association, and the state’s dairy industry.
They argued against the bill, calling it a threat to food safety and public health. Yet Texas has one of the lowest incidence rates in the nation for raw milk illnesses.
The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) reports,
“Texas raw milk farmers have an excellent safety record. CDC data from 1998-2010 show that there were only two reported illnesses attributed to raw milk in Texas during that time.”
This prompted Carolyn of Real Food Houston to opine that this is a food freedom issue, not a safety issue. She argues,
Milk delivered is not any less safe that milk picked up at the farm. In fact, the farmer would probably store and transport the milk in better condition than many consumers would. If the milk is delivered conveniently to the customer, there would be no hours-long drive to the farm to pick up milk. Both farmer and customer would benefit greatly from the passing of this bill.
Take action! Call your State Representative.
If you’re a Texas resident — even if you do not yourself drink or purchase raw milk — FARFA is urging you to begin by calling your state representatives to express your support of HB 46:
If you don’t know who your Representative is, you can visit www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or call the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630. The Switchboard can connect you directly to your legislators’ offices if you wish, so it’s very quick!
“Hi, my name is _____ and I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Representative _____ to co-author HB 46, to legalize the sale of raw milk at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer options. Do you know where he/she stands on the bill?”
If the staffer says they don’t know the Representative’s position (which is a common response), say: “I would very much appreciate it if you could call me back after talking with the Representative. This issue is very important to me and my family.”
You can also offer to send them materials about the bills via email. You can download our raw milk fact sheet at www.farmandranchfreedom.org/texas-hb-46-fact-sheet or email [email protected], and we can follow up.
For more information on HB 46 and ways you can demonstrate your support, visit the Farm and Ranch Freedom Association’s website.
(photo by merydith)
Elisabeth Gibson says
I’m afraid that the convenience of having milk taken to a drop-off point, is exactly what officials in Texas are working to avoid. This is a raw-milk state, but our providers endure undo scrutiny, ridiculous penalties, and harassment from state and county officials. They are very wrong, though, if they think we’ll walk away from fresh milk merely because they make it’s purchase inconvenient.
I think a better move would be to challenge the States of their authority to issue a Permit and or License to produce and sell a Product or their alleged authority of the States and Health Departments and take this alleged authority and return the Right to Produce Products back to the individual.
No State or Health Department actually has the Constitutional Authority to charge a fee for a Permit to an individual for producing a Product, nor do they have the Authority to take this Right we have to produce a Product and turn this Right into a Privilege so they can issue a License with an associated Fee or take that License away at their whim. Please look up
Rights- vs- Privileges and you will see that the Supreme Court has determined in many circumstances that the individual has the Right to earn a living and sell his product for a profit, as well as the Right to Freely Travel(Drivers License,
Bare Arms (Weapons Permit),
Fish (Fishing License), and many other Rights that the States have seen fit to turn into a Privilege and charge a Fee for and Issue a License to individuals which is actually Illegal and not Constitutional for the States to do this, but until this is challenged in a Court of law in this manner then the States as well as Health Departments will continue to break the laws and violate our Rights.
Ray Jennings says
where is it stated about it being illegal about charging for the right to hunt and fish???
Cathy McMahan says
the code says the license is for commercial only. Commercial fishing, etc.
I happen to be one of Mr. Miller’s customers in San Antonio, and it turns out to be an even worse story than that. The milk was dumped and his raw milk license temporarily suspended one Thursday/Friday because of some licensing irregularity that (I think) had nothing to do with the milk.
The milk that was dumped was because Texas suspended (again, perhaps temporarily) his right to sell milk to the Blue Bell Ice Cream corporation. We bought milk as normal the following Wednesday, with everything cleared up except for the 5000 gallon dump
If I were that farmer I would have stood my ground against the dumping. The milk was on the farm, not part of illegal activity. If they want to suspend his license, fine… but they have no right to come on his property and destroy it. He needs to be part of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, if he isn’t already. This is crazy!
Sarah, in the US the government can and does seize private property all the time. They even claim to have the right to what is done to us personally, attempting for force vaccinations and unnecessary medical procedures. One reason I try to support farmer advocacy groups both in spirit and financially is to try to stem the erosion of our rights and liberties in this country.
Travesty… travesty… travesty!!!!
Govt run amuk! Taking away the choices of private citizens… by folks who falsely pride themselves on protecting the “freedom of choice”. Sham shone brightly, isn’t it!
Liz oke says
So much for the land of the free, the right to bear arms but not drink milk as nature intended, it’s do screwed up its almost funny.
Catherine N. says
I know I buy raw milk at the Farmer’s market in the summer, put it in a cooler, and bring it straight home. I had bought the same milk, on occasion, at a grocery store, and it was usually sour, because they were not handling it properly.
Its something one has to be careful with, but it is wonderful stuff.
So I called my representative (Rep. Elliott Naishtat, Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee). His secretary recommended calling the Public Health Committee (512-463-0806) as well to register your support and request that it appear on the agenda. If you are in District 13, represented by Lois Kolkhorst, be sure that her office knows that you are in support and that you would like for the bill to be added to the Public Health committee agenda. Rep. Kolkhorst is the Chair of the Public Health committee and sets the agenda. Once it’s on the agenda, we can actually show up to the meeting to register our support.
Can we just revolt?
[email protected] says
Oh wow. I have just started buying raw milk for my family, and this is just tragic.
I hope you’ll consider entering it in the Saturday Round-Up, the new blog hop over at A Joyful Mother. I’d really like my readers to hear about it!
This upsets me big time! I live in Georgia where raw milk is illegal for human consumption. The only way for us Georgians to get raw milk is by purchasing it as ‘pet milk’. It’s very hard to get too since most farms are frightened at what will occur. As much as we make efforts to live healthy, something like this happens. sheesh…
HB46 and HB 910 hearing is happening Wednesday February 27th
It is happening sooner than expected!
Do you want to know how you can help? Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has all the instructions for you.
It requires that we all take action to see these two bills passed.
Go to http://farmandranchfreedom.org/tx-raw-milk-hearing-feb-2013/
Barbara Sanders says
I live in Texas. Tossing 700 gallons of perfectly good milk? Disgusting! Free Speech…Free Eating! Regulations are works-of-the-devil, for the most part. I can remember years ago when I had to meet a man, after dark, in the parking lot of Jim’s Coffee Shop to buy a case of Essiac. My precious Springer had cancer. I don’t think, I KNOW, that the rabies vaccine was directly connected to the cancer & auto immune deaths of at least 2 of my dogs. I do get the puppy shots and the final one at one year, but that it!
Shame on governments who do not have the good sense to realize raw milk is HEALTH GIVING. Is there a chance that you could get around this by purchasing a ‘share’ in a cow?
That is disgraceful and a waste of great, wholesome milk!!!
What a shame, not to mention waste. I’m sure there were farmers that would have loved to had that milk put on their strawberry patch. Milk is supposed to make them sweeter.
And when have tobacco farmers ever been forced to dump tobacco, even when hundreds of thousands die every year directly from smoking cigarettes???
Let raw milk be a personal choice, rather than a legal battle. If people knew how cows are factoried now there would be a bigger uprising than this. We all have a right to obtain food from humanely raised, grass fed, healthy cows.
[email protected] says
These laws should be challenged as unconstitutional.The F.D.A or any other government ,has no right to make a law based on ,It could become bad. Anything could become bad. You cannot make a law that basically say it.s safe, but you can not sell it off your farm. And also have no right to say you can not transport a safe product. I also think that the milk industry should be sued. The chiropractor sued the A.M.A. for plotting to run the chiropractor out of business. And they won . A class action case could be put together against the milk industry . Just my thought. Roger
Win Grantham says
I feel a personal hurt for the farmer. I grew up on a small farm that sold milk. Too bad the government (Federal and State) does not put the citizens welfare above their power to control. Other countries seem to care more about the health of their citizens.
margie k says
How shameful, especially when there are people who go to bed hungry every night in this country. And now the FDA is considering allowing artificial sweeteners to be placed in regular milk with no labeling. poisons like aspartame. Disgraceful !! I hope this bill passed. I don’t live in Texas but it doesn’t matter. Here in Florida the same is true for raw milk – it can only be purchased for “pet consumption” and many health food stores won’t stock it out of fear.
Lily G says
I wish I could help but I live in Florida. That is absolutely terrible. Such a shameful waste of perfectly good milk.
Kaye Kittrell says
Thanks for posting and for being a food renegade! I only consume raw dairy, for 12 years now. I’m extremely blessed to be able to get it and afford it. But, if the government has anything to say about it, I won’t! We must resist! – Kaye
Wait, in the USA in some states selling raw milk is ILLEGAL? Suddenly living in a third world country doesn’t look too bad.
Sad but true. People can freely smoke and drink themselves to an early grave, but they are not free to buy raw milk, and where they are “free” to buy it, they make it extremely difficult to get it.
Big Ag equals bug money. Small farmers are an inconvenience.
I am not a raw milk drinker, but I strongly believe the government has no business getting involved in what foods you can eat or drink. With all the crap that is labelled “safe” on grocery store shelves that has absolutely zero nutritional value, I don’t trust the government to tell me what’s safe and what isn’t safe to eat. Government involvement and control over our food has only made our nation sicker and sicker as time goes by.
Ph.D./Molecular Biologist says
Normally, I hate when gov’t is in my face about anything, and I certainly believe they’ve made a mess of our food system. However, despite that, there’s a reason why raw milk is so heavily regulated, and those risks have never gone away in all these years since pasteurization began. I hope to God nobody’s kid dies from Listeria, e. coli, or tuberculosis, because those are real risks drinking raw milk. You think you’re doing something good for your family by getting back to nature, yes, I agree with that on so many levels, but not with milk. No way, no how. The only way I’d drink raw milk is if it came from my own cow that I owned.
Heather S. says
To Ph.D./Molecular Biologist – And yet, considerably more people are sickened and die from E. coli, salmonella and other outbreaks in food purchased from grocery stores (THOUSANDS in the last few years) than from raw milk (2 reported illnesses in Texas in the last 16 years, 0 deaths). Have you stopped purchasing meat and produce at the groceries?
Touche’ Hather S. in your response to the molecular biologist. The commercial ag practices are outright disgusting. Commercial milk before it is processed is disgusting to look at and the meat is treated with insane treatments and is in my opinion absolutely toxic.. I will take my chances with raw milk any day over commercial dairy products.
On a constitutional level… The government has shown contempt for the Constitution and The Bill of Rights for well over 150 years. The people have been apathetic far too long. People that own the banks and big corporations of this world own the Federal and state governments unfortunately today.
This is why I tell people to take back their communities. Once they do that, then unincorporated your town and if possible the county and separate yourselves from the Federal and state corporations. That process removes the admin authority over your area. Constitutional law can be somewhat complex, but it is still the legal law of the land and trumps corporate admin law of the Washington District of Criminals.
Let me get this straight, in Colorado it’s legal to smoke marijuana but in Texas you can’t transport raw milk to a destination for pick up? I’m sure the food Nazi’s know what’s best for us.
I am wondering when this article was written because for the last four weeks of June 2016 Stryk Farm has been harassed by Federal Health Inspectors and told to dump many many gallons of milk. I want to know what we citizens who buy the milk can do to help.
Laurence Zheng says
great website and on topic
They deny the sells of healthy milk but allow the sales of cigarettes! That is proof there is zero concern for people’s health. Its corruption at it’s best all about money as usual. Just do what you gotta do and don’t allow the greedy idiots in power to stop you from eating healthy. I drive 45 miles to a farm every two weeks to buy grass fed raw whole milk. I’ve been drinking it for 13 years. I am 65 years old and in great health.