A herdshare is a means by which consumers can obtain farm-fresh unprocessed milk without the farmer violating the Milk Industry Act ban on raw milk sales. In a herdshare, consumers purchase ownership shares in a herd of dairy livestock, and thus obtain milk from animals that they own. They thus become “livestock co-owners,” holding legal title to the livestock. They pay a monthly “agistment fee” to a farmer to care for and milk their livestock, and this arrangement is formalized in a contract agreement, either between the farmer (agister) and the consumer or livestock owner group and consumer.
Herdsharing is not the same as a private buying club where the farmer still owns the livestock and the consumer pays to belong to the club and access the milk. Private buying clubs still violate the ban on selling raw milk.
Members of a herdshare often organize into livestock owner groups (LOGs) in order to make decisions about care and control of their dairy animals and distribution of the resulting products (e.g. milk, meat, manure, and offspring).
Eleven U.S. states have legalized herdsharing without legalizing raw milk sales. The BC Herdshare Association is lobbying to see herdshares legalized and regulated in British Columbia. See our proposal for the Minister of Health to amend the Health Hazards Regulation under the Public Health Act and for the Minister of Agriculture to issue a new Artisan Dairy Herdshares Regulation under the Milk Industry Act.