WI Dairy Owners Get an Insurer's Raw Milk Rejection Notice; Ventura County Food Police on the Prowl
Wisconsin raw milk producers, who have long faced opposition from regulators, judges, and the factory milk establishment, now have another opponent: Rural Mutual Insurance Co., which is owned by Farm Bureau.
The insurer recently sent out a letter to its Wisconsin farm policy holders "to clarify that your farm policy does not provide coverage for the sale and/or distribution for offsite consumption of unpasteurized (commonly called raw) milk from cows, sheep and goats for human consumption. The Liability and Medical Expense Coverage...is amended to clarify this exclusion.
"Also, if you have Farm Umbrella Liability coverage on your policy a new endorsement...Raw Milk Exclusion - is attached. The Farm Umbrella Liability endorsement does not apply to personal injury resulting from the sale, or distribution for off-site consumption of unpasteurized (commonly called raw) milk from cows, sheep and goats for human consumption."
Off-site consumption isn't prohibited in Wisconsin, but Rural Mutual Insurance Co. isn't leaving room for even a sip of raw milk. The elimination of raw milk from policies crops up from time to time in various states. For the most part, dairies have been able to replace one company's ban with a policy from another company. The best tactic by unaffected farmers: If you're doing business with Rural Mutual, send the company a message, and switch your providers.
The food police are after another food club. Mark McAfee reports that the Ventura County Health Department has threatened to interfere with a private food club in that area just north of Los Angeles that distributes Organic Pastures milk. The health department officials first said to a food club volunteer manager that there was concern about whether the milk was going to be stored. When that turned out to be a non-issue, since the milk is nearly immediately distributed to members, the "concern" suddenly shifted to whether the club needs to be registered as a retailer.
In an email to officials of both the Ventura County Health Department and the California Department of Public Health, McAfee stated: "According to the Ventura County Health Department, OPDC cannot drop off products (legal retail approved products) to a private buyers’ club for further distribution to its members. The club we are speaking of is a group of moms that want raw milk dropped, by the OPDC farm delivery truck, to a location near their homes at a discounted price. According to the Ventura Health officials, the buyers club is a store and must be regulated as a store. In our opinion, the buyers club is not a store at all and is not open to the public and furthermore all orders are made direct to the dairy and the location is a pick up point and not a resale point."
Maybe the Ventura County public health officials are emboldened by their pursuit of three Rawesome Food Club individuals in the last few months. Or maybe Wisconsin legal thinking on food clubs is making its way to California, as in, let's figure out new ways to harass these families.