RALEIGH – Government laws and regulations effect our lives, and livelihoods, in more ways than one can count. While some regulation is obviously necessary, too often the they regulate too much, to the detriment of economic liberty. Hence the term, ‘Big Government.’
Big Government many times works hand-in-hand with Big Business to advance regulations designed to weed out competition in the name of health and safety. It’s cronyism, and it seems to be afoot in North Carolina when it comes Big Ag and their push to ban herd-sharing (again).
Under herd-share agreements, consumers pay a farmer a fee for a “share” in either an individual animal, or a herd of cows or goats. In return, the owner of the share can obtain, but does not purchase, raw milk.
The N.C. General Assembly legalized herd-share practices, allowing North Carolinians to enter into herd-share agreements and obtain raw milk for human consumption, in the Farm Act of 2018. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the act, but was overridden.
Now the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Farm Bureau, and the state’s dairy industry (Big Ag) are working to repeal the law legalizing the distribution of raw milk through herd-share agreements. The raw milk opponents are trying to end the herd-share law in the name of food safety, of course, before the law even has a chance to get off the ground. Moreover, there are reports that state government labs that test pasteurized milk for safety are refusing to test raw milk produced by herd-share farmers.
It may seem like a small issue, but it’s yet another example of Big Government heeding the beck and call of Big Business to stamp out competition and infringe on individual liberty in the process.
One should be able to secure food and agricultural products from local farms unhindered. Those farmers should be able to make a living and leverage herd-share agreements to augment their operations in order to bolster their bottom line. Banning the herd-share/raw milk practice violates these principles.
Proponents of raw milk point out that the product has a good overall safety record, and if the N.C. Department of Agriculture was so concerned with the safety they should help to insure state labs actually accept it for testing.
Opponents may flag safety concerns as motivation, but is clear that their interests are really in limiting herd-share farmers ability to compete with their product. This is not the proper role of government, and it’s antithetical to the principles our country and state were founded upon.
North Carolina is known as the ‘First in Freedom‘ state. It’s motto is ‘Esse Quam Videri,’ or, ‘To be, rather than to seem.’ Lawmakers should resist the push to reinstate a ban on herd-sharing agreements if we are to be about freedom, instead of merely seeming like it while working against its very foundation on behalf of those with powerful lobbies.