Thank you to Pamina for alerting me to this situation. It’s not so much a reader question but rather an important discussion topic.
Evergreen Acres is the last farm left in San Jose. They are petting farm and goat farm.
Recently the California Department of Food and Agriculture sent a letter to Evergreen Acres stating that they were violating the law by boarding, caring for and milking goats that were boarded at their farm and then giving the milk to the owners of those goats. According to the CDFA, this constituted “unlicensed manufacturing or processing for resale” of raw milk. The strangest part, however, according to the CDFA, it’s perfectly legal for Evergreen Acres to board the goat and to milk it for the owners. It becomes illegal when the owners take the milk home for their personal use. The owners are free to consume it as long as the milk stays on site. If they continue to take the milk home from their privately owned goat Evergreen Acres can face up to $10,000 in fines and up to a year in jail.
Testing of the milk from the goat in question by a standard plate count test of bacteria scored below 50. California Law allows retail raw milk to score 15,000.
According to Mike Hulme, who owns Evergreen Acres with his wife Jane Hulme, “There is no injury here; no one has become sick from milk produced at the farm. There have been no complaints from either the goat owners or officials in the City of San Jose. The only conclusion I can draw is that this is a politically motivated action by the district attorney and CDFA to effectively put a small family farm out of business.”
This could cause a huge problem for a lot of us urban farmers as well as small family farms. People that share private ownership of goats or keep them even on their neighbor’s property face legal ramifications. It practically bars people from taking their own dairy products off of their property for any occasion, whether it’s food for a road trip or to have a picnic.
Fortunately that’s where the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund comes in. On behalf Evergreen Acres and the goat owners, they have filed a lawsuit against Santa Clara County and the CDFA.
The suit, filed July 22 in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, asks for a declaration by the court that Gerbode, Skiwski and Sullivan have the inalienable right to purchase, own, possess and use a goat, that they have the inalienable right to consume the raw milk produced by their goat and a declaration that they have the inalienable right to contract with the Hulmes to board, care for and milk their goats. The suit asks for a permanent injunction against the State of California and Santa Clara County preventing Defendants from commencing or continuing any enforcement action against Plaintiffs “or against anyone else in California who wishes to engage in the conduct engaged in by Plaintiffs.”
You can read more about this here.
This obviously isn’t about keeping the public safe. It’s about denying citizens the right to choose where their food comes from and from being able to produce their own food.