What Does the Passing of The Raw Milk Herdshare Bill mean in West Virginia: SB387

 I will include the bill language after a brief explanation about what all of this means.

The Herdshare Bill that was passed by Governor Tomlin on 3-3-16 does not make sales of Raw Milk Legal.

This law, as of May 2016, will make Sales of Shares of Your Dairy herd, if you are a farmer, legal. It will make buying an interest in a herd of dairy animals legal in West Virginia.

This bill still has to go through rule making with the legislature after session ends to create the final “rules” of how herdshares will operate.

We are fortunate to have many supporters in rule making. Please contact MEMBERS HERE soon to express your desire this law as unregulated as possible in the final language. The chairperson on the Senate and the Delegate in the House are firm supporters of SB387.

The broad terms of the bill are spelled out below, in SB387. Rules cannot contradict this language or add to in. They can only expound on it.

We were able to PREVENT the Health Departments or DHHR from being over rule making or even suggesting rules. Some folks who claimed to support this claimed that wasn’t possible. We showed everyone we certainly Could and did. The DHHR is only allowed to suggest to the Department of Agriculture what they would like, which, to be honest, they would have done regardless of the language and means very little, thankfully.

Remember. . .RAW MILK SALES are not legal. Herdshares will be legal and the law of the state as of May.

Please be sure to protect yourself, follow the law and join The Farm to Legal Consumer Defense Fund, as well as researching the ways we have provided and will continue to provide on this blog, to safely run a herdshare.

HERE is the language of SB387

AN ACT to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-1-7, relating to shared animal ownership agreements to consume raw milk; permitting a responsible party to acquire a percentage ownership interest to consume raw milk; setting forth required provisions for shared animal ownership agreements; requiring responsible party to acquire percentage ownership interest in milk-producing animal; requiring payment for percentage ownership for care and boarding of milk-producing animal; providing for receipt of a share of raw milk pursuant to an agreement; requiring written document acknowledging the inherent dangers of consuming raw milk; providing immunity to herd seller for inherent dangers of consuming raw milk; providing no waiver of immunity to herd seller for dangers caused by negligence of herd seller;  prohibiting responsible party from distributing, selling or reselling raw milk received pursuant to shared ownership agreement; requiring herd seller to file shared animal ownership agreement with Commissioner of Agriculture; requiring certain additional information be provided by herd seller to Commissioner of Agriculture; requiring herd seller meet animal health requirements established by state veterinarian; requiring parties and physicians to report illnesses related to consumption of raw milk; requiring parties to shared animal ownership agreement and physicians to report illnesses directly related to consuming raw milk; requiring Commissioner of Agriculture contact other parties consuming raw milk from same herd seller upon receipt of report of illness; providing administrative penalties; permitting a person against whom a penalty is imposed to administratively contest that penalty; and providing rule-making authority.


Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-1-7, to read as follows:


§19-1-7.  Shared animal ownership agreement to consume raw milk.


(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, a responsible party may enter into a written shared animal ownership agreement to consume raw milk in which he or she:

(1) Acquires a percentage ownership interest in a milk-producing animal;

(2) Agrees to pay another for the percentage ownership interest for the care and boarding of the milk-producing animal at the dairy farm;

(3) Is entitled to receive a fair share of the animal’s raw milk production as a condition of the contractual agreement;

(4) Agrees to sign a written document acknowledging the inherent dangers of consuming raw milk that may contain bacteria, such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella and E. Coli, that has not been pasteurized to remove bacteria and that is particularly dangerous to children, pregnant women and those with compromised immunity. The responsible party then agrees to release the herd seller of liability for the inherent dangers of consuming raw milk but not for those dangers that are caused by negligent acts or omissions of the herd seller; and

(5) Agrees not to distribute raw milk.  The sale or resale of raw milk obtained from a herd share is strictly prohibited.

(b) The signed and executed shared animal ownership agreement shall be filed by the herd seller with the Commissioner of Agriculture and shall contain the names, addresses and phone numbers of the herd seller and the responsible party so that either party may be contacted in the event of an illness.

(c) The herd seller shall meet the animal health requirements for milk-producing animals established by the state veterinarian in accordance with state and national standards including the following:

(1) Raw milk from milk-producing animals intended for consumption shall be from a herd that tested negative within the previous twelve months for brucellosis, tuberculosis and other diseases as required by the state veterinarian. Additions to the herd shall test negative for the diseases within the previous thirty days before introduction into the herd; and

(2) Milk-producing animals producing bloody, stringy or abnormal milk, but with only slight inflammation of the udder, shall be excluded from the milking herd until reexamination shows that the milk has become normal. Milk-producing animals showing chronic mastitis, whether producing abnormal milk or not, shall be permanently excluded from the milking herd.

(d) Parties to a shared animal ownership agreement and physicians who become aware of an illness directly related to consuming raw milk shall report the illness to the local health department and the Commissioner of Agriculture.  Upon receipt of such a report, the Commissioner of Agriculture or his or her designee shall contact and warn other parties consuming raw milk from the same herd seller.

(e) The Commissioner of Agriculture may impose an administrative penalty not to exceed $100 for a person who violates the provisions of this section.  Any penalty imposed under this subsection may be contested by the person against whom it is imposed pursuant to article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.

(f) The Commissioner of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Resources, may propose rules for promulgation in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code in compliance with raw milk dairy industry standards.



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