Rural Vermont celebrates Governor Shumlin’s signing of S.105, the “Dairy Class Law,” that protects farmers and re-instates the right of Vermonters to control the foods that they eat.
Nearly five months after suspending raw milk dairy classes in response to a Notice of Warning letter indicating that raw milk dairy classes were illegal, Rural Vermont is excited to announce that a successful collaboration between farmers, legislators and the administration has resulted in the passage of a law that solidifies farmers’ ability to sell raw milk and protects the rights of Vermonters to learn about and make raw milk dairy products in the privacy of their own kitchens.
S.105 addresses the issues raised in the Notice of Warning letter that led to the suspension of Rural Vermont’s raw milk dairy classes by changing the definition of raw milk so that it may now be sold for “personal consumption,” rather than limiting its sale for “fluid consumption.” This simple change means that (1) farmers are no longer prohibited from selling raw milk to a customer because that customer plans to make the milk into dairy products such as cheese or butter for their own consumption; and (2) that educational dairy classes may be held in order to teach Vermonters how to make raw milk dairy products for their own consumption.
“The raw dairy processing classes are an important part of educating consumers and connecting farmers to their local communities in a way that promotes a vibrant local agricultural economy” explains, Jared Carter, executive director of Rural Vermont. “As Vermonters, we should all take heart in the fact that the democratic process has prevailed in this instance.” Pointing to the simplicity of the legislative change, Carter said that, “this legislation represents a significant victory for farmers and a step forward in growing a self-reliant food system in Vermont.” Rural Vermont estimates that in 2010 raw milk sales generated approximately one-million dollars in revenues that went directly to Vermont farmers. “Farmers are already faced with enormous pressures from the commodity milk market so to the extent that the direct sale of raw milk can provide a fair price to Vermont farmers, this legislation supports the overall objective of economic prosperity.” Carter adds.
Rural Vermont stands ready to open a new chapter in the history of farming in this state. “Our vision for a Vermont agricultural system is one that places people over profits and serves our local communities rather than Wall Street investors,” Carter explains. “By coming together as an agricultural community on this and future legislation, Vermont can continue to be a leader and show that farmers are the backbone of vibrant rural economies.” In response to the Governor signing this landmark legislation, Rural Vermont is holding a celebratory educational dairy processing class and ice cream social on Wednesday, June 8th at Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester. In addition to teaching about making value added dairy products, there will be music, food and dance. Rural Vermont is a nonprofit advocacy group founded by farmers in 1985 that advocates, activates, and educates for living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities.