Santa Cruz Collective to Stage a “Milk-In” for Raw Milk Rights

Santa Cruz area raw-milk proponents are tired of the government getting up in their dairy.

In response to “cease and desist” letters from the Santa Clara County DA's office sent to small, herd-share businesses that contract out milk from a goat or cow, the Santa Cruz Food Rights Coalition formed and is hoping to rally support for a “right to eat” cause — with animal guests.

Next Wednesday, Sept. 7, the coalition will hold a “milk-in” where local farmers will bring goats downtown to milk them publicly and distribute the raw milk as a calcium-rich protest.

This comes on the heels of a SWAT-like crackdown on a health-food market in Venice, Calif.

Those who support an individual's right to contract with a herd share for raw milk — sidestepping food regulations designed to keep down the risks associated with dairy — say that the government shouldn't interfere with an individual's private right to contract and consume.

“The CDFA wants control over every drop of milk in the state,” said Kimberly Hartke, a publicist for the Campaign for Real Milk.

Because entering the milk-distribution market with licenses and inspection fees can be pricey and cost-prohibitive, small farmers often “herd-share” their dairy animals, collecting fees from those who want to have access to the animal's milk, often for consumption without pasteurization. They maintain it's a private contract and not an unlicensed public retailer.

“Consumers want this,” Hartke added.

And with demand for locally sourced, raw foods only growing, the raw-milk issue is unlikely to stop getting tugged.

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