Every few months, it seems, TV news or amateur videographers capture another raid on a raw milk supplier somewhere in America. In the past several years, law enforcement agencies have carried out raw milk raids in California, Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Each raid intensifies the drama that already surrounds the debate over raw milk.
But those tactics haven’t stopped the growing demand for raw milk. In fact, some say they’ve only strengthened a raw milk underground.
Even in Idaho—where raw milk that is produced by licensed, Grade A dairies has been technically legal for decades—small-scale producers who couldn’t afford the expense or meet the regulatory hurdles involved in going legit, went underground.
But rather than resort to raids on small farms, Idaho decided to go a different, less confrontational route in 2010. With the help of raw milk producers, the conventional dairy industry and state agencies, Idaho stripped the raw milk rules to the bone.
While I was researching raw milk, Marv Patten of the Idaho Department of Agriculture told me an Idaho farm family can now “tie their goat to a tree and milk it, cool it appropriately and if it meets the milk quality standards that we set forth, [sell it]."
Since Idaho put the new rules in place, it has licensed 70 small-scale raw milk producers around the state to sell raw milk—legally. Read more about this story in the Wednesday, Nov. 30, issue of Boise Weekly.