Raw milk sales for human consumption are illegal. The state Department of Agriculture has interpreted “sale” to even cover giving away raw milk and raw milk products. In 2003, a state representative introduced a bill to legalize raw milk, but the Tennessee Senate Agricultural Committee voted the bill down and it never reached the floor of the legislature.
Raw milk and raw milk product sales for pet consumption are legal, even though the state animal feed laws contain no specific provision about raw dairy products. Producers and sellers must obtain a commercial feed license from the state.
- Update, Spring 2011: House Bill 898 seeks to clarify Tennessee’s “cowshare” law. The bill simply states that no law “shall be construed as prohibiting the independent or partial owner of any hooved animal from using the milk from the animal or a dairy product made from such milk for the owner’s personal consumption or other personal use.” Current law provides that the milk from the animal can be used for the owner’s personal use but does not mention the right to have that milk processed into other dairy products.
- Update, Summer 2009–VICTORY IN TENNESSEE: A bill formally legalizing cowshares has been passed by both the State House of Representatives and the Senate and signed into law by Governor Phil Bredesen on May 21. The bill simply states that nothing in the law “shall be construed as prohibiting the independent or partial owner of any hoofed mammal from using the milk from such animal for the owner’s personal consumption or other use.” The House sponsor of the bill was Frank Nicely (R-Knoxville, District 17); the Senate sponsor was Mike Faulk (R-Kingsport, District 4). Congratulations to Brentwood WAPF Chapter Leader Shawn Dady and Tennesseans for Raw Milk (www.tennesseansforrawmilk.com) for their persistent efforts—-spanning several years-—in getting this legislation passed. Details: Raw milk sales are illegal except as pet food. For a period, state authorities harassed dairy farmers selling raw milk and milk products labeled as pet food but this seems to have died down. There are a number of cowshare programs in the state and a committee working on changing the law to allow on-farm sales. Read an update from Jenny Drake of Peaceful Pastures and more about the effort to legalize raw milk sales in Tennessee. Find out more at www.tennesseansforrawmilk.com.
- Update, Spring 2009: The Dairy Farmers Prosperity Act (HB 1360 and SB 1899) would allow the unlicensed direct sale from producer to consumer at the farm as long as the farmer does not advertise and the consumers bring their own containers. HB 1360 is now before the House Committee on Agriculture; SB1899 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Agriculture.
- Update, Fall 2005: Sally Fallon and Frank Sanders testified before a House agriculture committee in favor of a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk on September 14, after the committee heard from microbiologists and industry representatives who opposed the bill. Representative Frank Nicely, a sponsor of the bill, explained how the current law was passed specifically to put one successful raw milk farmer out of business. Tennessee once had almost 10,000 small dairy farms and now has less than 1000. The landscape is littered with defunct farms and dilapidated dairy barns. Sanders specifically addressed the benefits that raw milk sales can bring to the local economy. Shawn Dady has spearheaded the effort to reinstate the sale of raw milk and put together an excellent bill that can be a model for other states.
- Update, Winter 2004: Spurred on by the efforts of chapter leader Shawn Dady, a bill to legalize sales of raw milk from small herds is being prepared for the Tennessee House Agriculture Committee. A big supporter of the bill is pop and country music superstar Lee Ann Rimes, which should help gain favorable publicity for the bill.
- Update, Fall 2004: Shawn Dady, our Brentwood chapter leader, continues to work with a state representative and state senator to present a bill legalizing raw milk sales. She is also working on a raw milk commercial that could be used in any state.
- Update, Spring 2003: Shawn Dady is working with legislatures to make raw milk legal in the state. At a recent meeting, the health departemnt brought in an “expert” from the University of Tennessee who described the diseases that could be carried in raw milk. As a fall back position, the committee is now looking into the legality of cowshare programs—which are already being set up inTennessee. For further information contact Shawn at 615-661-7699 or visitwww.tennesseansforrawmilk.com.
- Update, Fall 2002: To date, we have two state representatives working to introduce new legislation this session to change the law in Tennessee to allow farmers to sell their own produce directly to the public. We are going to have a “listening session” in November to educate all farmer-friendly legislators on the raw milk issue and farmer’s rights issues in general. Jenny Drake of Peaceful Pastures will be there to share her expertise on the issue and a couple of veterinarians who are knowledgeable on the issue and who support raw dairy sales will be there to speak as well. Our legislators plan to invite other representatives to the session, including house members, senators, and committee chairmen, in an effort to gain support for the measure. Hopefully this will get the ball rolling in a big way. What you can do to help: If you live in Tennessee, contact the legislators for your district, both house and senate members, and tell them you support the small farmer’s right to sell the products of his own farm directly to the public. Let them know that you want to be able to purchase produce, all produce including dairy, poultry, and beef directly from the farmer. You could call or fax them. Believe me, they listen to you. For a listing of your representatives, click www.legislature.state.tn.us. This will take you to the Tennessee General Assembly web site where you can choose Senate or House, and then choose “Members” and then choose the “Clickable Image Map.” Once you do that, you can click on your district to see who is your representative. THANKS! We need everyone to do all that they can to get this measure passed.
- Action Alert, Sept. 30, 2002: Peaceful Pastures in Tennessee Needs Your Help