Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Food Lawyer
In response to my initial post, Dusty posed an interesting question about raw milk:
If a member of Farm Dreams farms in a state that allows raw milk to be sold as pet food as long as it's properly labeled, do you see any liability or legal risk for the farmer? If so, could that be mitigated with an umbrella policy for the farm since they're operating within the state law?
There is very little risk in the precise transaction Dusty proposed. If a farmer truly wants to sell a pet-product to be consumed by pets, a farmer must only comply with state law regarding food for animal consumption. (Yes, there are food laws for critters, too, but no ‘Pet Food Lawyers’ yet.)
Dusty’s question alludes to an interesting trend in small-scale agriculture, the practice of “moo-n-shining”, selling raw milk under some artifice in order to circumvent local prohibitions against its sale for human consumption.
As the popularity of raw milk increases, the practice of circumventing prohibitions has gained some favorable and far too deferential treatment in the press. A few months ago, the practice of labeling raw milk as pet food was uncritically profiled in a lop-sided piece on National Public Radio. It is truly a shame that responsible journalists have not reviewed these tactics with more skepticism. At best, these “moo-n shine” methods have unpredictable and not always favorable results for the farmers that use them. It is definitely unwise to craft a regulatory risk management strategy around a story on the radio.
The best guidance I have is that every state has different laws regarding raw milk. State laws are generally written quite comprehensively and can regulate all sorts of raw milk transactions including gifts, donations, or “cow-share” arrangements. These laws usually empower state regulators to seize, impound, or destroy the milk products of suspected violators.
Farmers who put their faith in moo-nshine tactics run the additional risk of violating state labeling and misbranding rules. These are violations separate from raw milk laws and expose the farmer to even more criminal or civil liability.
With regard to a private insurance policy, knowingly violating raw milk prohibitions using a moo-n shine scheme might be grounds to void your policy and your coverage. Insurers will exploit any opportunity to refuse a claim. Intentionally selling a deliberately mislabeled product with a wink and a nod presents your insurer with the perfect excuse to deny you coverage.
Think twice - despite what the polls say, legislators are not dumb. Chances are, they drafted language that covers any moo-n shine activity you can think of. Be wary.
Make a comment!