I received word late Friday night that the Wyoming Department of Agriculture is attempting to prohibit cow and goat shares in Wyoming. They are attempting to add rules and regulations which have the effect of law unless we stop them.
A Weston A. Price Chapter Leader here in Wyoming discovered this proposed rule change and contacted an attorney at the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund on Friday. This attorney advised that the word “solely” in the proposed rule could have the effect of limiting the ownership to a single individual and effectively eliminate cow/goat shares by prohibiting more than one owner per animal.
The proposed rule change can be found at the Wyoming Department of Agriculture website. Chapter 3 (Food Care) Section 8 (i) “This subsection does not apply to individuals who obtain milk from animals solely owned by them, members of their family, or their employer and who furnish raw milk or products made from raw milk only to members of their family or nonpaying guests.”
The simple paragraph looks innocent enough but the addition of that one word “solely” could have a huge impact.
Effectively, this ruling takes private property from each of the owners of a cow or goat share without compensation for taking the property. The Wyoming State Constitution states in Article 1, Section 33 Compensation for property taken: “Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation.” Therefore, this proposed rule change in Chapter 3 Section 8, (i) violates the Wyoming Constitution.
And perhaps an even bigger issue, it is for our state legislators to create and/or change the laws—not the Department of Agriculture. Once again looking at the Wyoming State Constitution Article 3, Section 20 Laws to be passed by bill; alteration or amendment of bills: No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended on its passage through either house as to change its original purpose.
Continuing to read Article 3 Sections 21- 26 the Constitution is clear that all new law must be voted on and enacted by the Legislature. The LEGISLATURE. The Department of Agriculture is part of the legislature or one of Wyoming’s powers of government. Our three powers of government are legislative, executive and judicial. (Wyoming Constitution Article 2, Section 1). The Department of Agriculture is attempting to enact a new law which is clearly outside of the scope of their ‘power’.
What is the job of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture? “The Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) has the leadership role within the agriculture industry and provides knowledge and expertise to promote profitability and to protect the production, marketing, and delivery of consumer goods, thus ensuring honesty and integrity in the marketplace.” (Source: State of Wyoming) Nope, making new laws is not part of their job.
By sneaking in the word solely to the proposed ruling the WDA is attempting to enact a new law. Currently, the state of Wyoming does not have a law either for or against herd share arrangements. I know I sound like a broken record but it is not up to the WDA to enact new laws!
You may not live in Wyoming and are wondering how this concerns you.
Perhaps I am over reacting when I say this, but if our department of ag can do something so sneaky and underhanded (and get away with it) other states might get the idea they can follow suit. By making a big noise we can stop this and not only tell the Wyoming Department of Agriculture to stop attempting to make new laws but let other states know that citizens will not stand for these kind of unconstitutional over-reaches. This is not just about raw milk!
What can you do?
1. Submit comments. Must be in writing, (not email or fax). Must be received by next Wednesday (5/23). So that means for most of us, we will have to overnight letters to Cheyenne. Ask that the word soley be removed and/or the entire (i) section be removed Written comments or request for a public hearing may be addressed to: Wyoming Department of Agriculture, 2219 Carey Ave, Cheyenne, WY 82002.
2. Request a public hearing, again email or fax may be ignored, so will need an overnight letter with confirmation sent to the above address. A public hearing will be held if requested by 25 persons, a governmental subdivision or by an association having not less than 25 members. (Source)
3. Call, write, email the Governor’s office and state legislators – request that this administration stop making rules and regulations without being legislated upon. And that the proposed rule is not needed and is over-regulation. Contact Governor Mead here. Find a State Senator here. Find a State House Member here.
4. Write letters to editors of local Wyoming papers, call in to local radio shows, etc. Post and share on facebook and other social media sites, ask your friends, family, farms and ranches to get involved. Make a BIG noise.
We can not let the WDA quietly enact a new law! We need to let them know we will not stand for this blatant violation of our rights!
Update: As more information comes in we are discovering that other rules are being proposed including limiting access to salad greens at farmers markets and making farm fresh eggs unavailable in local stores. Please see (and sign) this petition for more information–Don’t Let the State Steal our Rights!
Wyoming Food Freedom Press Release. This is not just about raw milk!
Update May 26: Thank you all for your help in spreading the word! The requirements were met to hold hearings regarding these proposed rule changes. As soon as there is more information and the hearing schedule is announced ,I’ll provide more information and you can visit Wyoming Food Freedom to keep up-to-date.
This is about so much more than raw milk, salad greens and farm fresh eggs! Please continue to spread the word. Make it known that we will not accept the abuse of power that agencies like the Wyoming Department of Agriculture are attempting. Make it known that we can choose our foods for ourselves!