2015 Bills

HB104: Property Rights for Raw Milk Drinkers

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Libertas Institute supports this bill.

The legislature, in 2007, enacted a law that changed how unpasteurized milk may be sold in Utah. Included in these changes was a ban on cow shares, which remains to this day.

A cow share is an arrangement whereby two or more parties share ownership of a single cow—much like people jointly own cars, homes, companies, or other assets. In Utah, such arrangements are illegal for purposes of milk, whereas they are permissible for using the cow’s meat, manure, or hide. But if you want to go in on a cow with a few neighbors and share in the milk, Utah law prohibits that.

There are two important points to be made here: this arrangement, though prohibited, is prevalent. Many people desire raw milk for taste or medical reasons, and may not live close enough to the handful of stores that sell it in Utah. “Black market” arrangements now operate in the shadows. In an October interim committee hearing, state officials recognized this and admitted that the government is unable to identify how prevalent it is, with one of the agency officials noting that he was “not sure if our charge is to really get into people’s business that far” in enforcing the law against those who were accessing raw milk from neighbors.

Second, the Utah Dairy Act is not applied to milk produced on the farm if consumed by the owner of the farm of the owner’s immediate family—meaning, that the outright owner of a cow and his family enjoy the freedom to drink the milk their cow makes.

Property rights do not exist only when a person completely owns something; joint ownership is common, and each person retains their right to use their portion of that property just as they would if they owned all of it. As such, the cow share prohibition violates property rights and should be repealed.

To repeal this violation, Representative Marc Roberts has introduced House Bill 104. This simple bill repeals the cow share prohibition—restoring property rights to those interested in jointly owning a cow—and exempts cow share program participants from the Utah Dairy Act.