A proposed Maryland bill would restore the right of the states' citizens to participate in cow shares, or cow boarding, to obtain raw milk.  Maryland citizens lost the right to raw milk via cow shares in 2006, when the appointed director of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene redefined the word "sale" to include agistments.  A hearing on the bill is scheduled for January 28 at 1:00pm at the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis.

Cow shares or cow boarding refers to a practice in which people buy shares in individual animals for a portion of the milk they produce.  These people may not own the land or have the skill or time necessary to own a cow (and since cows produce far too much milk for a single family to consume selling shares even makes sense for people who are able to own a cow or two), but the farmer is paid to care for the animals and distribute the milk to the cows' owners.  It is a very popular way of getting around raw milk bans nationwide.

Since the undemocratically passed ban on cow shares in Maryland criminalized this practice, the state's residents have been forced to look elsewhere for their milk (participating in cow shares across state lines, as the sale of milk across state lines is illegal on the federal level), while hundreds of Maryland raw and natural dairy farms have closed down.

House Bill 3 was filed by Annapolis Delegates James Hubbard (D-23A) and Nic Kipke (R-31).  Hubbard and Kipke point to a variety of reasons for proposing the legislation.  They say it will help local farmers, create more economic opportunities, and would help keep agriculture local.  In keeping sales of agricultural products local, the bill could help more money stay in the state and in individual communities, prompting Hubbard to call the bill a "win-win-win."

A hearing on the issue will take place in Annapolis's Lowe House Office Building on January 28 at 1:00pm.  In addition to the environmental, economic and tax benefits, the bill has obvious freedom implications.  It would re-open and renew a whole new, increasingly popular market.  Raw milk advocates say that unpasteurized dairy has significant health benefits, including increased protein, vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

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