Perspectives: The cow sharing crime syndicate next door

OPINION –  It came as a huge surprise when I recently learned that just a few years ago my family had been rubbing shoulders with a criminal organization. Honestly, they seemed like such nice people.

It started with a knock on our door from a neighbor we’ll call Brother Clyde. He and his wife Sister Bonnie were standing on our doorstep with a couple of gallon glass jars of raw milk. They explained that they had a surplus of fresh milk and didn’t want it to go to waste.

Knowing how quickly our kids could go through a gallon of milk we thanked them for their generosity and gratefully accepted.

A few days later our phone rang. It was our neighbor Mrs. Capone. She told us that she had an extra gallon of fresh milk and wanted to know if we would take it off her hands.

During the next week, yet another neighbor named Mr. Dillinger dropped by with two more gallons of milk to share with us.

By now we had learned that several of the families in our neighborhood had joined together and purchased a milk cow. They pooled their time, money, and manpower to keep their dairy cow fed, milked, and housed in a barn over on Horse Alley.

They worked out a milking rotation where each family was responsible for the morning and evening milking on a specific day and then enjoyed a couple of days off before it was their turn again.

With their cow producing an average of 5 gallons of milk each day, it became common for these families to generously share the excess with many of their neighbors at no charge. Their families simply couldn’t drink the amount of milk their cow was producing.

Typically, there would be an inch or more of pure cream at the top of each jar of milk. We lovingly scooped the cream off and turned it into homemade ice cream, butter, cheese, and other treats.

At the time, none of us had any idea that there was a state law on the books that strictly prohibited this type of neighborly arrangement.

But the awful truth was revealed when I learned about a bill that was heard last week by the Agriculture Committee of the Utah legislature. HB 104 seeks to amend the Utah Dairy Act to reinstate the right to join with others in the acquisition and use of a dairy animal and its products.

Back in 2007, the Utah legislature added language to the Dairy Act that made it illegal for any person to “own, operate, or otherwise participate in a cow sharing program” in Utah. Under the current law, only one person may use the milk from a dairy animal which is their private property.

Why this was enacted in the first place is not entirely clear. What is clear is that the Utah Dairy Association and other commercial producers of milk benefit from this law while private parties wishing to simply keep a dairy animal for personal use do not.

HB 104 would correct this unwarranted infringement of property rights and restore legal participation in cow sharing.

Remember, we’re not talking about people starting a business to market raw milk. This is about private property owners sharing the expense and responsibilities for a dairy animal that is producing milk for their personal use.

It promotes self-sufficiency and a degree of abundance. It is about responsible stewardship over one’s private property. When the state is allowed to claim regulatory power restricting someone from doing something that in no way influences an unwilling second party it is an affront to property rights.

Property rights are inextricably tied to our basic human rights. The proper role of government is to protect those rights, not to manipulate them for the benefit of whomever has the best lobbyists.

It’s issues like this that separate legislators who truly support property rights from the ones who are merely giving lip service. Any person who utters the words, “I support property rights but…”, is either being dishonest or does not understand property rights.

Of course, there are those who oppose cow share programs on the grounds of safety.

Anytime the words “raw milk” are mentioned, the safety cultists are sure to chime in with how this type of needless regulation is saving us from ourselves. We can only wonder how earlier eras of humanity flourished without their permission.

Safety cultists often pose as noble benefactors of mankind. Behind the supposedly altruistic perspective is a thinly veiled control freak wishing to forcefully impose his collectivist notions of “the greater good” upon others.

Waiting until someone actually causes harm and then holding them personally accountable isn’t enough. We’re expected to hold others legally accountable for a presumptive harm that hasn’t actually occurred.

Personally, I’d rather take my chances with the neighborhood outlaws. They at least give me the option of saying, “No, thanks.”

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • sagemoon February 9, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Cow sharing is a great idea. Now I’m craving ice cream. Mmmm…

    • Mesaizacd February 9, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Dang milk tweekers

      • mesaman February 9, 2015 at 7:05 pm

        Holy Moo Milk! Brian you will bring every city-dude in Southwest Utah to raise up in righteous indignation. After all, some of them may have actually seen a cow since them moved here.

  • NotSoFast February 9, 2015 at 9:44 am

    You have just been moved up the latter Bryan with your libertarian views. One more step and you’ll be on the politician’s (‘Watch this guy, he’s out to expose us all’) target range. The IRS has you labeled this day, as one who might welcome the freedom of the barter system.

  • native born new mexican February 9, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Once again a good article Bryan. In my childhood I drank more raw milk than I care to remember. I don’t recall a day of sickness from it. The worst harm done was when the cow got in the weeds. The milk tasted horrible but my dad made me drink it anyway. I also had to learn to like the taste of goat milk- leche de cabra as we called it. Poor, country people don’t get to pick and chose what they eat. They eat what there is and are grateful for it. When it is all said and done people are going to do what it takes to live; laws or no laws. It is interesting the clever, resourceful ways people figure out to get around stupid, restrictive laws. law makers need to remember that when they are dreaming up all their new problem causing laws.

    • Roy J February 9, 2015 at 10:29 am

      Yep, I am going to agree with you on that one, Bryan and Native Born. We have similar laws in Washington State regarding supermarkets giving nonsaleable food products to food banks. There were problems with legislation that prohibited supermarkets from giving past-date or damaged consumables to soup kitchens and the like. Basically the laws were amended to allow for consent on the part of those who chose to eat food from donated past due or damaged goods to waive their right to sue if they got sick, etc, etc. So far as I am aware, the number of people getting sick (let alone dying) from eating these products is so minimal in the greater Seattle area that the figure might as well be nil. Same should go for raw milk and other home grown food products here in Utah, far as I’m concerned.

  • anybody home February 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

    This is hilarious…Only in Utah. Can’t wait to send it to friends around the country who ask me what it’s like to live here.

    My only suggestion, BH, is to give up the name calling: “Safety cultists”? If you take the time to read about raw milk, you’ll know that for some people it’s the greatest thing ever, but for others it can cause serious medical problems. Just take the time to acknowledge individual differences (you seem to be all about individuality) in matters of health.

    Otherwise, a great laugh this morning.

  • LunchboxHero February 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

    LOL at “safety cultists”. That darn Louis Pasteur!

    “Perspectives” has become the journalistic equivalent of armpit fart noises. This is hands down the most ridiculous ongoing series of articles I think I’ve ever read. At this point it just amuses me because it’s become an ongoing joke in our household. I like to read it aloud to my husband and shake my fist like Hitler once the article, which sometimes starts off benign and pleasant, takes its inevitable dark turn (see: “safety cultists”).

    So, if nothing else, thanks for a good belly laugh every few days. It’s *almost* as good as the Sunday funnies, but they have the edge since they’re actually TRYING to be funny 🙂

    • Roy J February 9, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Hahaha, LunchBox, I laughed out loud at the safety cultists, too!:)

    • mesaman February 9, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      AHA! You are a “lunchbox heroine”, and a rather opinionated and strongly skewed to the left at that. By the way, I like the term he confabulated, it fits.

      • LunchboxHero February 10, 2015 at 8:20 am

        Haha! And *I* like your term “confabulated”. That is the PERFECT word to describe most of Perspectives Guy’s babble! Very good call…

  • Brian February 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

    The law against cow sharing in Utah ranks up their in stupidity and evilness with the law that you can’t collect rainwater that falls on the property. Who do these people think they are?!? God sends me rain, directly to my property, and they think 100% of it belongs to the state? That is the height of arrogance.

  • BIG GUY February 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I fully support anyone’s right to own a cow jointly with friends and neighbors. Judgment is required before imposing laws and regulations for the “greater good.”

    Another example of effective lobbying with questionable improvement in the greater good is the dramatic increase in the number of professions requiring government licenses. Some professions obviously require appropriate training and licensing: physicians come to mind. But other professions don’t, however industry lobbyists have erected barriers to competition in the form of licensing requirements. I don’t know whether Utah is one of them, but some states require government-approved training and a license to become a florist! Give me a break.

    • anybody home February 9, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      Big Guy, you’re stretching a point about licensing. I’m a florist and there’s no government-approved training to become a florist. Louisiana did begin requiring a professional license for this work in 2011. Please don’t resort to distorted information like this to support your anti-government point of view. Utah definitely does not have a requirement to license florists, although every state requires businesses of all kinds to have a state business license. Not the same as a professional license.
      You can stop worrying about getting a florist’s license, Big Guy, should you decide to become one. But you might look good in a florist’s apron.

      • BIG GUY February 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        ANYBODY HOME has overreacted to my post. Please note my statement that “judgment is required before imposing laws and regulations.” I don’t oppose most laws and regulations but I do oppose some that reflect poor judgment, just as you do. We’ll differ on which ones those are, reflecting our differing world views. But I suspect we’d agree on over 95% of them.

        I said “some states” require professional florists licenses; you say Louisiana does. Thanks for your help in making my point. Since you highlighted this fact, should I assume you are in favor of professional licensing for florists? Perhaps you are one of Bryan’s “safety cultists” who sees a need to protect flowers from injury and disfigurement. If you’re not, then we’re agreed that Louisiana has exercised poor judgment.

        • anybody home February 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm

          BG Louisiana is the ONLY state that has set this up. But ONE state is not the same as SOME states…important point. To answer your question, I’m not in favor of professional licensing for florists although I’ve seen some pretty bad arrangements in my day by florists who use old or ratty flowers and have no artistic sense…maybe they do need a license (that’s a joke, BG). In the floral business there are designers with artistic talent and there are hacks who stuff things in a vase and call it good. But it’s not a licensing matter.
          Can you give me another example of a profession that requires licensing that you don’t agree with? And the places where this is required – more than one state, perhaps?
          P.S. Be careful where you buy your Valentine flowers – make sure they’re from an artistic designer and not a hack. 😉

          • anybody home February 9, 2015 at 6:33 pm

            Big Guy – I forgot to mention that one of the top questions for the florist’s exam in Louisiana would probably be, “What’s the best temperature for keeping the Heineken’s cold in the flower cooler?” Or maybe that was just our shop in Massachusetts…

          • BIG GUY February 9, 2015 at 8:18 pm

            A quick check of one web site shows the following “professions” require state licenses in multiple states, many with outrageous training requirements and licensing fees:

            Make-up artists, security guards, auctioneers, residential painting contractors, funeral attendants, interior designers, travel agents, shampooers, and home entertainment installers.

            Tennessee has the most onerous requirements for funeral attendants whose only responsibilities are to move caskets into viewing rooms, place flowers and direct mourners: 70 days of training, two exams and $140 in fees. Would you feel better if Utah required professional training and a license for shampooers? I’m sure I could find more but that’s hardly needed to make my point.

            I fully appreciate your point that some florists are artists while others stuff flowers in vases. Their are good ones and poor ones in every job listed above, but licensing would do very little to weed out the poor ones. Instead, these are examples of effective lobbying by vocational schools to extract tuition and by industry groups to limit the number of those seeking their jobs and to enhance their image with “credentials”.

  • Mesaizacd February 9, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Next week.. Wife sharing syndicate next door LOL.!

  • NotSoFast February 9, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    At ease Anybody. Big Guy was just using flower sniffers as an example. There’s all types of lobbyist trying to get politicans to do their ‘behind the door’ work for them. Unions are a good example.
    Where I grew up in California, I use to fix up cars and resell them. The DMV came down on me because I sold more than 5 vehicles last year and that was illegal because I wasn’t a licensed dealer. Asked how I can become one? Well, $50 grand up front, then a yearly fee after that and I have to join the local dealers club. I would think Utah has a similar ‘good old boy’ policy for the protection of the folks.
    Enjoy your ORGANIC ( approved)milk.

    • Bender February 9, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Always hard to balance consumer protection against not clogging up the works. For reasons in favor of licensing car dealers see any number of articles in the Spectrum and St George News over the past 5 years about criminal car dealers stealing and defrauding the public here in town.

      • BIG GUY February 10, 2015 at 5:27 am

        I am quick to agree that consumer protection requires balanced judgment. But BENDER, all those criminal car dealers you mention were licensed! Licensing will not weed out the dishonest in any field. And in a number of fields including those I mention above, it will not weed out the incompetent.

        Nonetheless, licensing does make sense where public health and safety are (hopefully) afforded by required training and testing. I support it and I suspect Bryan would, too. But in a number of cases, unnecessary training and licensing have been imposed in response to lobbying by vocational schools and by those already doing the work. See my post above.

  • KarenS February 9, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Ah, the good old days! I, too, drank raw milk as a child but I would not do it now with all of the bacteria, chemicals, etc in random pieces of ground. You don’t know where the grass comes from that your neighbor’s cow eats. Perhaps one of your neighbors uses the grass from his cut lawn for feed because it is more convenient. No chemicals there, I’m sure. Maybe the feed comes from some foreign country where inspections are different and the feed is not registered for cow consumption. But then you won’t know that, would you?

    As for raw milk in general, there are a number of good reasons why people are cautioned to be careful. Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization, raw milk was a common source of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other foodborne illnesses. These illnesses killed many people each year, especially young children. In the 1900s many mothers recognized this risk and would boil milk (bringing it to a temperature of 212°F) before giving it to their infants and young children. That information comes from the CDC.

    Hooray for Louis Pasteur!

  • laytonian February 9, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    THAT guy, again. Always with just a sappy one-sided story.

    Then there’s this:
    “Utah Reports 45 Campylobacter Illnesses Linked to Raw Milk Dairy
    BY NEWS DESK | AUGUST 27, 2014
    Utah is investigating a cluster of 45 cases of Campylobacter infections associated with the consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk from Weber County.

    According to public health officials, those reporting illnesses were people who said they drank raw milk before getting sick. Reports include cases from Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties, along with two cases involving out-of-state residents from California and Idaho. Onset dates range from May 9, 2014, to July 21, 2014. Those who reported becoming ill range in age from two to 74 years.

    • BIG GUY February 10, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Health wasn’t Bryan’s point, foolish and unnecessary regulation was. Do you support the current law prohibiting two or more families sharing one cow? Should Utah pass a law prohibiting every citizen from drinking raw milk? How would you enforce it? Or are you just looking to find fault with one phrase because you don’t share Bryan’s libertarian politics?

  • NotSoFast February 9, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Hum, I’m still wondering why a florist needs to be licensed. Now, if they specialized in selling pot for any reason, that sounds appropriate.
    (Then again the drug cartel’s don’t need no stinking license).
    When St. George News ask for your bank acct. # when you sign to make a comment you’ll know the politicians need more revenues and know where to get it (Internet).
    And shouldn’t Bryan Hyde be required to be politically licensed to be a ‘Fair & Balanced’ typist of thought?

  • anybody home February 9, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I agree that many of these required licenses seem over-reaching at worst and frivolous at best. As for the milk-sharing situation, it’s hard for me to imagine any kind of policing on who drinks whose milk, but I have an image of a guy in a big overcoat pulling a neighbor aside with a Psst and opening the coat to show half a dozen quarts of raw milk…I mean, really. If you have a cow, how is anybody going to know if you hand off a couple of quarts to the people next door? I say all this because I can’t imagine how such a law came to be in the first place unless it’s related to some arcane Utah milk-sharing ritual. But as for the matter of raw milk – I’ll take pasteurized, thanks and be grateful for Louis P’s work. If others want to drink raw milk, that’s up to them. Got milk?

    • BIG GUY February 10, 2015 at 4:52 am

      And after ANYBODY HOME’s variety of posts on this article, she ends up agreeing with Bryan. Like her, I will only drink pasteurized milk but that wasn’t Bryan’s point. Utah’s dairy industry lobbied for restricting the supply of home-grown milk and got a foolish bill passed. Same holds true for a number of other businesses in various states (see my post above).

      As government inserts itself into many more facets of our lives, business success increasingly depends on influencing legislation (lobbying) and less on providing products and services wanted by the public. Crony capitalism, from the defense industry to renewable energy, is becoming the rule of the day. You and I have little choice but to buy products and services proposed by lobbyists and approved by politicians.

      • sagemoon February 10, 2015 at 8:28 am

        Agreed! I’m tired of being treated like an idiot by the government.

      • anybody home February 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

        Yeah, Big, I kind of had that creepy feeling that I was agreeing with Bryan on the cow-sharing matter. But mostly I’m still puzzled about how the law came about in the first place. I mean, who knew that people were sharing cows? Bryan and I part coming quickly, though, when he mentions the safety cultists and here’s where Bryan’s opinions go in the ditch all the time. He conflates some fairly reasonable opinion with one of his paranoid conspiracy fears and sucks the air out of his own argument.
        Gotta run and study for my florist’s exam…ciao, bg.

        • BIG GUY February 10, 2015 at 8:53 am

          Our loss is Louisiana’s gain. Ciao.

          • anybody home February 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm


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