Safety is the key issue for herdshares in California and is the focus of CHA . Unlike other states that ban raw milk outright, California is a raw-milk friendly state allowing retail raw milk sales as well as not interfering with private herdshares. Since herdshares are unregulated in California, it is up to farmers to regulate themselves. Lack of responsibility resulting in herdshare-related raw milk illness could mean less freedom for small farms in our state.
Articles here are intended to assist farmers in following CHA's suggested best practices. The information has been written to address the specific needs of small dairy herds on diversified farmsteads.
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Why Focus on Raw Milk Safety?
Raw milk can carry a real risk.
It is not an inherently safe food. The beneficial enzymes and bacteria found in raw milk do not kill pathogens in any manner reliable enough to ensure safety. Even grass-fed, healthy cows on happy homesteads can shed pathogenic bacteria in their feces. Raw milk is a nutrient rich food that is highly conducive to bacteria growth. Young children and the immune compromised are most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill from drinking contaminated raw milk.
Raw milk risk can be managed.
It is not an inherently unsafe food. Raw milk is a beautiful, nutritious, delicious food, unless it becomes contaminated with ill-causing bacteria. When farmers understand where pathogens come from and how they can contaminate milk, and then develop conditions and practices on their farm to reduce the risk of that happening, the potential for illness goes way down. Developing risk-reducing conditions and practices is something that every herdshare, of any size, can do.
Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.
People and Pathogens aren’t what they used to be.
Modern lifestyles leave people lacking the immune function that our agrarian and whole-food-eating ancestors enjoyed. And while humans have become weaker, pathogens have become more virulent, due largely to modern farming practices. This combination makes it extremely important that we work hard to provide nutritious, wholesome, and pathogen-free food for our community. Perhaps the greatest heartbreak a farmer could ever experience is knowing a food we produced caused serious illness or death.
Herdshare Farmers operate in an information vacuum.
For far too long, solid, science-based information about raw milk risk reduction has been hard to find or non-existent. CHA seeks to end the information-drought and provide farmers with much needed information about how to produce raw milk as safely as humanely possible.
Getting real about safety promotes food freedom.
Addressing food safety concerns in a proactive and science-based manner takes the teeth out of the anti-raw milk arguments that would threaten our freedom to produce and consume the foods of our choice. When raw milk producers admit that risk exists and articulate and execute a well-defined plan to manage that risk, the fight over raw milk freedom largely goes away.