raw milk in a jar

The Laws in BC

What is the current legal situation in BC surrounding farm-fresh, unprocessed milk?  In a nutshell, tightly regulated.

The current situation is, that like all other provinces, all food products in BC are controlled and regulated from harvest to plate under the Natural Products Marketing Act (other provinces have similar legislation, just with different names).  The B.C. Milk Marketing Board Regulation under this  Natural Products Marketing Act gives the BCMMB complete control over all milk produced in the province, even milk produced by a family cow!  The BCMMB however, has granted a “personal use exemption” for dairy animal owners:

” You can start up to 200 chickens or 50 turkeys every year, or keep any number of milking cows, as long as none of the milk is sold.” – (Farm Industry Review Board “Review of Specialty Production and New Entrant Programs Improving Access to the Supply Management System,” page 1).

Unpasteurized milk is regulated under several other laws as well, including section 6 of the Milk Industry Act and section B.08.002.2 (1)1 of the federal Food and Drug Regulation, both of which prohibit the sale of raw milk.

As in the rest of Canada, laws in BC prohibit the sale or distribution of raw milk to any destination other than to the milk marketing board, and only then if you have purchased quota.

British Columbia, of all provinces and states, is unique in that under BC law (specifically section 2(a) of the Health Hazard Regulation under the Public Health Act), unpasteurized milk is defined as being a “health hazard,” and to cause a health hazard is punishable by a maximum of a $3M fine or 3 years in jail.  This, for a product which can be purchased in grocery stores and direct from farms in Washington State and California.  An FOI request this June (see PDF at this link) revealed that the BC government has no evidence or documentation supporting the original passage of this law in 1988.  One would expect correspondence, studies, consultations with stakeholders, reports, meeting minutes, and other records for such a important law which has had such devastating consequences for farmers — but none exist.

This current legal situation has created a “black market,” creating a climate of fear and putting both farmers and consumers at risk. Canada was founded by fresh-milk farmers, and yet this product, part of our history and heritage, is now illegal.

The B.C. Herdshare Association exists because we believe that, as in other nations, our farm-fresh unprocessed milk deserves to be legally available, farm to consumer, without the risks of a “black market.”   We have a large and growing herdshare community in the province.   From our surveys an interviews, we estimate that there are close to 100 herdshares across the province, as well as other farms producing fresh, unprocessed milk..  Eighty-nine percent of commercial Canadian dairy farmers drink their own farm-fresh milk, according to a 2010 study, so we know it is safe.

We are working toward dialogue with government, with the goal of trying to modernize our laws here in BC.  Change will not happen overnight, but forming this organization and reaching out to those who write the laws are first two steps.

rawmi kpu talk 2

Mark McAfee at KPU Richmond September 11th 2014

rawmi kpu talk 2

For the Love of Farm-Fresh Milk!
with Mark McAfee of the Raw Milk Institute

Location: Melville Centre Conference Room, KPU Richmond, 8771 Lansdowne Road
Date & Time: Thursday, Sept. 11th, 2014 8pm-9:30pm. Doors at 7:30pm
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/793500317369380/

Free public presentation with Mark McAfee, spokesperson for the Raw Milk Institute in California. RAWMI is committed to being the most-trusted source of information for and about the raw dairy industry.

Whether you’re a dairy farmer looking for help in producing the highest quality product, a consumer trying to make an informed decision about this important source of nutrients, or a legislator or regulator building your knowledge of the raw milk industry … you’ve come to the right place.

The talk will include:

– Current legal issues surrounding raw milk in BC
– Raw milk best practices on the farm
– Testing systems, protocols, and results
– How to simplify raw milk safety to a very reliable and consistent science – with data to prove it
– History of raw milk
– Nutrition of raw milk
– What RAWMI can do for farmers
– Changes that occur in pasteurization and processing
– What American and European raw milk systems and practices show us
– and, plenty of Q&A with Mark

Speaker Biography:
Mark McAfee, spokesperson for the Raw Milk Institute(RAWMI) in California, is the founder and CEO of Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, California, which is on their 4th generation family farm and distributes raw dairy products in over 600 stores in California. Mark is internationally recognized as an expert in raw milk safety and production, having headed a team which developed and published the first international raw milk production and safety standards. He has spoken at Rutgers and Stanford University Medical Schools and has been an expert witness in legislative and judicial proceedings across America.

Sponsored by BC Herdshare Association, Young Agrarians, and KPU Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems



Mark McAfee of RAWMI visits BC and Ontario!

We have exciting news!   Mark McAfee, spokesperson for the Raw Milk Institute, will be visiting British Columbia and Ontario this September.

Updated schedule:  Mark will be giving a public talk in Victoria on the 9th (Update: Watch the video of his talk), meeting with farmers in Duncan the 10th,  speaking in Richmond on the 11th, likely heading to Kamloops on the 12th (events still being planned), touring a farm in Chilliwack on the 13th, and then he will fly on to Ontario for the 14th and 15th (details to come).

Full details yet to come.  If you would like to host a free public talk, a private meeting of local farmers, or have Mark out to visit your farm, please get in touch!  Important:  Farmers in the Okanagan and Interior of BC:  Please contact us for information about events being organized in Kamloops. Email contact@bcherdshare.org.

Some of the topics which Mark will be speaking on are:

  • “Grass to Glass”  milk best practices on the farm
  • Testing systems, protocols, and results
  • How to simplify fresh milk safety to a very reliable and consistent science – with data to prove it
  • History of farm-fresh milk
  • Nutrition of farm-fresh milk
  • What RAWMI can do for farmers
  • Changes that occur in pasteurization and processing
  • What American and European farm-fresh milk systems and practices show us
  • and, answering all your questions.

About Mark McAfee, CEO and Founder of Organic Pastures Dairy and Spokesperson for the Raw Milk Institute: 
Founder of Organic Pastures Dairy, Mark is internationally recognized as an expert in raw milk safety and production. He has spoken in more than 25 states and three countries on the subject. In 2000, Mark brought together the team and systems that founded OPDC and then in the last 14 years grew the CA based company to include 65 employees, 24 delivery trucks, more than 600 retail stores, 15 farmers markets and 30 buyers clubs. Mark founded the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI) in 2011, to teach, research and create low risk raw milk production systems and practices for the humanitarian benefit of the emerging raw milk markets. In addition, he taught paramedic medicine at a local County Health Department and worked for sixteen years as an EMS paramedic responding to more than 15,000 calls. Mark served on a STAR rescue team and airborne EMS services, while also serving as marketing director and operations manager for a $30 million dollar EMS company. He is pre-med trained, and is an experienced medical educator. Mark started flying at 15 and is an active clinic mission pilot for LIGA, “the flying doctors”. Mark flies all over California and the western USA meeting raw milk customers for much requested free “Share the Secret” presentations.


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Interested in Volunteering?

Do you support local, sustainable agriculture; food sovereignty and food security; direct farm-to-consumer commerce; and farm-fresh, unprocessed milk?  Do you believe in the vision of a province-wide organization to serve the herdshare community of B.C.?  Please consider volunteering with the BCHA.

We have incorporated, but that is just the first small step in our journey toward effectively serving the herdshare community.  Are you interested in joining our team of volunteers?  Even if you can only lend a bit of time, that would be great.  We have a page of possible volunteer positions here – but certainly if there’s something else you’d like to offer to contribute, please suggest!


We’re incorporated!

The B.C. Herdshare Association is now incorporated as a nonprofit society in the Province of British Columbia, one more step in our journey to build an organization to serve the herdshare community of our province.  Incorporation means that a group legally exists and can have such basic tools as a bank account – vital to being able to provide services which may require a phone-line, fund-raising, etc.

With incorporation, the temporary Steering Committee’s tasks are finished, and direction of the organization has been passed along to a new Board of Directors.

Are you interested in volunteering? Board and other positions are available – see here for more information.

The mandate of this organization comes from the community, the organization is accountable to the community, and it is only with the community giving BCHA its mandate, vision, and purpose that it exists.

Incorporation is necessary, but it is only a first step in the journey to building an organization which can fully serve this community, so please check back as this organization builds and grows in the coming months.

Moving Toward the Future

The steering committee met on Saturday April 18th and made a lot of progress toward bringing this organization into being.  At our meeting, we took all results from the community survey and farmer interviews, and looked at them in detail for common themes of what the herdshare community across B.C. would like this organization to be and do.  The three main themes which emerged were advocacy, support, and education.   Based on these results, the “Purposes” that will form the “Constitution” of this organization for our incorporation will be:

  • To advocate on behalf of the herdshare community and its members to the general public, to governments and their agencies, and to any other body that may be appropriate.
  • To support, advance, and promote the interests of the herdshare community of British Columbia.
  • To promote knowledge sharing by education and mentorship programs and to serve as a resource for providing information regarding herdshare best practices.

Our Mission Statement is simple and to the point:   To serve and support the herdshare community of British Columbia”

Work is still necessary to plan the specific services which BCHA will offer to the community, but information about these will be published on this website as various programs are developed.

Volunteers wanted:   Are you interested in volunteering with the BCHA?  Do you have time and skills to offer?  We’ll be posting information about specific volunteer opportunities soon, including Board of Directors positions, but you can drop us a line at bcherdshare@gmail.com if you’d like to offer in advance.  Please include a bit of information about yourself, and preferably a resume or CV detailing your experience.

Also, please join our Mailing List to receive news and announcements.

Our Herdshare Community – Where Do You Live?

Two hundred completed survey results have now arrived and we thank everyone who has participated.  There is still another few days left to respond to the survey, and we hope to get more responses from all across British Columbia.  Below are the responses so far of where survey respondents live.  If you live in an area outside of Southwest B.C. and have not filled in the survey yet, we would especially love to hear from you, as we have very few responses compared to the number of herdshares we know are outside of Southwest B.C.

“Survey Question 2:   Where do you currently live?”

Answer Count Percentage
Greater Vancouver 112 56.00%
Fraser Valley 20 10.00%
Vancouver Island or Gulf Islands 57 28.50%
Powell River / Sunshine Coast 1 0.50%
Thompson / Okanagan 4 2.00%
Prince George / Cariboo / Chilcotin / Peace River 4 2.00%
Skeena / North Coast / Stikine / Haida Gwaii 1 0.50%
Rockies / Kootenays 1 0.50%
Outside of B.C. 0 0.00%

(Update of May 1, 2014:  The survey is now closed.  We thank everyone who participated!)

News About the Survey

Many thanks to all who have filled in the community survey – we now have 194 completed responses from herdshare members and supporters across British Columbia.  We know though that there are hundreds if not thousands of herdshare members in this province – along with other consumers and supporters of farm-fresh unprocessed artisan milk – so we hope to get many more responses before closing the survey.

Your responses are important – they will form the mission statement, goals, and services of this organization.  If you live in BC and belong to a herdshare, have belonged to one, know someone who does, or just support herdshares, please take a few minutes to fill in our survey!

(Update of May 1, 2014:  The survey is now closed.  We thank everyone who participated!)


Welcome to the British Columbia Herdshare Association! There is a vibrant herdshare community in British Columbia, and we are forming a nonprofit association to serve and support herdshare farmers and consumers – agister and shareholders – across the province.

What would you like to see your new organization be and do? What should it’s goals be? What services should it provide? Please fill in our survey and let us know – your feedback will be used by the steering committee in developing the strategic plan for the organization, its mission, goals, and the services it will provide to the community.

(Update of May 1, 2014:  The survey is now closed.  We thank everyone who participated!)