Maine is one of the 43 U.S. states which provide consumers with legal access to raw milk. Unlike in B.C., raw milk farmers and consumers in Maine live without fear of penalties of up to three million dollars or three years’ incarceration (B.C.’s Public Health Act, section108, the penalty for “causing a health hazard”).
In the State of Maine, raw milk farms are licensed and raw milk is regulated. Raw milk is readily available to consumers from farms, at farmers markets, and in grocery stores. Farms openly advertise (examples: Tide Mill Organic Farm and Winter Hill Farm). They can produce value-added products such as raw milk cheese, butter, and yogurt. In Maine, raw milk is not a “hot button” topic that governments will not go near. In fact, the government of Maine provides a PowerPoint presentation advising farmers on how to get licensed and helpful guidelines for licensed raw milk farmers.
Maine has an estimated population in 2017 of 1,350,200 and currently has 74 licensed raw milk farms. There were only 10 licensed farms in 2003 – and this chart shows how consumer demand for raw milk has grown in the state (and similarly in the U.S. in general):
If British Columbia (2022 popl. 5.24M) had a proportional number of raw milk farms to population, it would have 287 licensed raw milk farms. The Lower Mainland itself (2022 popl. 3.05M) would have 167.
Despite steady requests by the public for legalization, currently B.C. has no licensed farms, and the law details severe penalties for raw milk distribution. (Note that this is not stopping the many herdshares currently flourishing in B.C. Because government refuses to provide the public with legal access to raw milk, herdshares have no alternative but to operate in violation of the current law.)
There is always some concern in places where raw milk is illegal, that legalization will put farms out of business. This leads some farmers to believe that they are better off in a “black market,” living with the risk of prosecution. However, Maine shows that farms can flourish under a regulatory system which legalizes raw milk. It also provides an example to government that raw milk can be legalized.