Due to consumer demand and struggling local economies, some states are easing up on food sales with the introduction of “cottage food laws.” Although they are not without regulation, sometimes even more red tape, they are beginning to allow more food access to slowly trickle back in – especially helpful for “fresh food deserts.”
One such state has a large vocal demand for food freedom – Vermont. The same Vermont that just passed the first state GMO food labeling law.
With farm sales of raw milk legal in Vermont, the next logical step would be availability at farmers markets, right?
Last Saturday at the Capital City Farmers Market, marks the very first time raw milk appeared at a farmers market – at least in the last 60 years or so.
Act 149 took some wherewithal. The legislation passed on July 1 that allows farmers markets to be a delivery hub. Of course, the farmer is not allowed to sell milk there. But a person who made a purchase through the farmer at the farm or visited the farm at least once is allowed to pick up their purchases thereafter at the market. It is beneficial for convenience and greater marketing, visibility.
Montpelier’s Times Argus reports:
The state already regulates who can sell raw milk, breaking farmers into two tiers, with the second tier reserved for bigger producers. Tier-two farmers, or those who sell up to 280 gallons of raw milk per week, were allowed to sell the milk at their farms or deliver to the customer’s home, before the recent law expanding delivery to farmers markets.
Frank Huard, a goat farmer from Craftsbury Common, was the first at the farmers market in Montpelier to take advantage of the new law. The Huard Family Farm has won the state’s highest quality milk award for its goat’s milk from the Vermont Dairy Industry Association in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Huard believes it is good for expanding into greater markets and convenient if both the farmer and customer will be at the same place anyway. However, he points out an added and perhaps unnecessary major inconvenience of the ruling – consumers having to visit the farm at least once.
With him being an hour away from the market, what if a farmers market patron lives away from the market in the opposite direction? They need to lose hours of drive time out of a busy schedule to stay for how long – 15 minutes? Huard had been hoping to expand his market beyond his farm. He calls it baby steps for raw milk access. Baby steps for his growing career as a goat farmer after leaving the concrete industry during the Recession in 2008.
Alan LePage, farmer and president of Barre Farmers Market says, “I resent the fact that the state seems to think they know better than anyone else about the subject.” And, he has a lot to say about the misconceptions surrounding raw milk at the Times Argus report which also further describes Huard’s goat farming lifestyle.
No word on how that stipulation to visit the farm first came about – to remove a liability? Vermont lawmakers were very concerned about liabilities – mainly from big food corporations and chemical makers – upon passing the GMO labeling law.
With issues and regulatory scrutiny aimed at raw milk production heating up, some farms have taken to getting their milk independently certified for added transparency.
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