raw milk

Melodie Edwards

The Wyoming legislature passed two bills this session to expand the Food Freedom Act. The act was first passed in 2015 to allow local food producers to more easily sell otherwise home grown foods, like raw milk and poultry, directly to consumers.

The act is a unique piece of legislation in the U.S., and Sundance Representative Tyler Lindholm said many states have started to model bills after it.

Baylen J. Linnekin

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, giving the state’s farmers and ranchers the most flexible food rules in the nation...making it possible for them sell things direct to consumers that are illegal elsewhere, like unpasteurized milk, poultry, jams, and other foods. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked with the author of the new book Biting the Hands That Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, about Wyoming’s Food Freedom Act, and just how common this level of deregulation is in other states.

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, allowing the state’s food producers to sell an unprecedented number of products often illegal in other states, like unpasteurized milk and poultry, direct to consumers.

But on September 21, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors required a vendor at the Gillette farmer’s market to dump all of his containers of chicken chili. State Representative Tyler Lindholm worked closely with the USDA to get the law passed and said he’s trying to figure out what happened so the state’s producers can be in compliance going forward.

Irina Zhorov

Wyoming farmers have now experienced a full farmer’s market season since the Food Freedom Act was passed, last legislative session. The Act allows Wyoming farmers to sell many goods they couldn’t in the past, such as raw milk, eggs, and fermented foods. Wyoming Farmer’s Market Association board member Bren Lieske says she was able to expand her business into making bread and fermented tea called kombucha and plans to sell raw goat’s milk in the future.

But, she says, with more business came more risk.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Many consumers are interested in the benefits of so-called ‘good bacteria’ in curing foods and gardening. That’s why this year’s LocalFest in Lander is offering a film festival, gala dinner and workshops celebrating microbes. LocalFest organizer Stefani Smith says the highlight will be a hands-on composting workshop with author Jeff Lowenfels.

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming lawmakers may not have agreed on much this legislative session but there is one issue they did vote together on: de-regulating the state's locally produced foods. The new Food Freedom Act now allows consumers to buy processed produce, poultry, eggs and unpasteurized milk direct from the cook or farmer, something that was illegal just a few months ago. And it's that last item—raw milk—that's so controversial nationwide.

The 4th annual Local Fest is moving from Pinedale to Lander this year. The festival is a celebration of Wyoming foods. It starts today with a free film festival at the Lander Public Library and runs through this weekend. 

Steve Doyle is a Riverton farmer who helped organize the event. He says this year’s event will be longer and more intensive than in the past. He says there are lots of success stories around the state.

Food Freedom Act passes

Jan 24, 2013
Irina Zhorov

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that would de-regulate the sale of homemade foods at farmers markets and between producers and consumers.  Republican Sue Wallis of Recluse says it would allow the sale of meat and unpasteurized, raw milk.  Lawmakers considered removing meat from the bill, but the amendment was defeated.  Wallis says if consumers buy locally, that money will get spread throughout communities.    

Irina Zhorov

Revisions to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s proposed food safety rules could make it easier to obtain raw milk. Raw milk is unprocessed, unpasteurized milk. The originally proposed food safety rules said that raw milk could only be used by the sole owners of a milk cow and their families or guests.

Manager of Consumer Health Services, Dean Finkenbinder, says the word ‘sole’ was removed after about 130 people spoke out at public meetings and a public hearing.