Cow Boarding—A CSA for Dairy Farmers
An Opinion Editorial by Kimberly Hartke
With all of the hullabaloo about raw dairy in the news, there is something that is being overlooked. Michael Schmidt, the Canadian dairy farmer facing criminal charges has hundreds of shareholders. By standing up for his rights, he is also standing up for theirs.
Michael and many other raw dairy farmers in Canada and the U.S., who are battling the bureaucracy for the right to ply their trade, are actually standing up for the rights of the consumers to choose the food of their choice. The Bovine, a blog that follows the Michael Schmidt case, opined that what is missing from the news reports is the fact that hundreds of thousands of consumers are supporting these farmers, and believe in their product, enough to invest in their enterprises.
Cow-boarding programs are nothing more than community supported dairy farms.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s) came about as a means of health-conscious consumers supporting locally owned and operated fruit and vegetable farms. Increasingly, families are concerned about the quality of their food, and the long distances food is traveling from farm to table. This led to a desire to promote local farms that employ true organic farming practices, such as the use of compost and manure, instead of petro-chemical fertilizers and pesticide sprays.
Through CSA’s, families become benevolent benefactors. A CSA member commits a portion of their food budget to support a specific farm. They subscribe to a weekly share of the seasons harvest in advance. These payments at the start of the growing season enable small scale, perfectionist farmers to employ traditional farming methods that have fallen into disuse thanks to industrial agriculture and government subsidies.
Recognizing that artisan produce farming is a labor of love, and takes money, communities are now patrons of their local farmers who want to be artists, instead of cogs in the industrial wheel. A renaissance of natural farming is the result, and a new, dynamic farm economy is emerging.
The realm of dairying is no different. Traditionally, cows were raised in the sunshine, on pasture, eating green grass, the way nature intended. With the price of real estate, combined with the low prices paid to dairymen by milk processors, the only economy of scale that works is factory farming of huge herds. A small family farm can’t survive.
The forced consolidation of the dairy industry began with poor animal husbandry that necessitated an expensive pathogen killing industry. Milk processors, milk transporters, add several layers of middlemen between the farm and the end consumer. Government subsidies, hidden from view, are the only reason this system is sustainable.
The mandatory pasteurization laws that currently hinder traditional dairymen from competing in the marketplace were necessitated by this trend toward industrial dairying.
Yet, farmers are not prohibited from consuming their raw product, only from selling it.
Enter The Campaign for Real Milk, realmilk.com, a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). The foundation’s namesake was born and raised on an Ontario farm. He became a prominent dentist in Cleveland, Ohio and author of the 1930’s health classic, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price’s book recommends grass-fed raw dairy products because of their nutritional value. Price has two nutrition non-profits named after him; the second is Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. His pioneering research on primitive cultures and their food traditions is part of the curriculum in many nutrition schools, and also inspired a modern cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, which has sold over 300,000 copies. WAPF members promote cow-boarding programs, where ownership of the pastured dairy cow is transferred to the consumer, thereby securing the consumers’ access to a natural, humanely raised product.
The 11,000 members of WAPF are an educated cadre of farmers, holistic health practitioners, and families with quality nutrition as a priority. Through the study of Weston Price’s research, they have become converts to whole foods, among them raw milk from grass-fed, traditional dairy farms.
These are the benefactors of raw dairymen, and the patrons of their agriculture artistry.
A loss of the right to carry on traditional dairying would be not only be a huge blow to agriculture but an unthinkable infringement of the rights of citizens.
Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, WestonAPrice.org, a nutrition education non-profit with 400 chapters and 11,000 members worldwide. There are 22 WAPF chapters in Canada; eight of them are in Ontario. Visit her blog, HartkeisOnline.com.