Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Chill Over Milk

HARDWICK -  Their passion is raw milk, but Raymond and Pamela Robinson along with two dozen other certified raw milk producers see a move by the state to put a stranglehold on "raw milk buying clubs" as a raw deal.

The bottom line for the Robinsons is that more than half their income from daily production of 20 to 25 gallons of unpasteurized milk comes from agents who buy milk at the farm to deliver to those who can't or don't want to make the trip themselves to the Jackson Road organic farm.

"More than 50 percent of our customers either share a ride to the farm or pay someone to pick up the milk for them," Mrs. Robinson said.

The Hardwick couple is not alone in depending on a network of "raw milk clubs" to distribute their product. Many other certified raw milk producers rely on sales to individuals who pick up milk to deliver to others, and tightened regulation of that network worries both producers and consumers.

Winton Pitcoff, coordinator of the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts chapter Raw Milk Network, said the impassioned testimony from the 80 or so at the state Department of Agricultural Resources hearing at the Saltonstall building was not just about raw milk rights, but preserving food freedom.

Mr. Pitcoff said one individual told Commissioner Scott J. Soares that a person on their death bed in a hospital could ask a friend or relative to pick up a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store, a prescription for OxyContin at a pharmacy, a pint of vodka at a package store, and a gallon of raw milk at a state-certified farm, and the courier could only be arrested for transporting the milk to a third party.