North Carolina Lawmakers Moo-ve Toward Legalizing Raw Milk Sales

Published May 19, 2015

North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill to circumvent the state’s ban on the sale of raw milk.

The bill would reverse a 2004 law preventing individuals from purchasing “cow shares,” ownership shares in a cow or herd of cows, thereby allowing people to purchase raw milk produced by the cows they co-own. 

Legal in 30 States

State Rep. Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance) says his bill, which has been approved by the North Carolina House of Representatives Health Committee, increases North Carolinians’ food freedom.

“Since 30 other states have legalized the sale of natural milk in some capacity—retail sales, farm sales, cow-shares, et cetera—we know it can be accomplished in a safe manner,” Riddell said. “Those 30 states offer a variety of means to choose from, that have been around for quite a while, to permit natural milk sales to those who desire to purchase it legally. I believe we are quite capable of doing the same thing here in North Carolina.”

Riddell says opposition to food freedom originates from special-interest groups in the agriculture industry.

“One, they claim it may lead to increased illnesses and will be a danger to public health,” Riddell said. “Two, they claim it may threaten the dairy industry with potentially bad publicity if natural milk is identified as the source of a foodborne illness outbreak.”

Cow-sumer Choice

Riddell says these arguments against consumer choice are baseless.

“None of these claims have been realized in any serious manner in states that currently permit natural milk sales,” Riddell said.

Instead of less choice, Riddell says people should have more power over what foods they can buy.

“We allow so many other foods to be purchased raw and then prepared and consumed by our citizens without draconian controls,” Riddell said. “Why is natural milk the only food product illegal to sell here in North Carolina?”

No Threat to Survival

“Somehow the human race has managed to survive all these years drinking natural milk,” Riddell said.

Keep Food Legal Foundation Executive Director and George Mason University Law School adjunct professor Baylen Linnekin says raw milk legalization is a win for consumers.

“I don’t know what North Carolina has to gain from keeping in place its ban on sales of raw milk for human consumption,” Linnekin said. “North Carolina has been busy trying to grow its dairy industry. Allowing raw milk sales is one way to do just that.”

Jeff Reynolds ([email protected]) writes from Portland, Oregon.