Santa Cruz area raw-milk proponents are tired of the government getting up in their dairy.
In response to "cease and desist" letters from the Santa Clara County DA's office sent to small, herd-share businesses that contract out milk from a goat or cow, the Santa Cruz Food Rights Coalition formed and is hoping to rally support for a "right to eat" cause -- with animal guests.
Next Wednesday, Sept. 7, the coalition will hold a "milk-in" where local farmers will bring goats downtown to milk them publicly and distribute the raw milk as a calcium-rich protest.
This comes on the heels of a SWAT-like crackdown on a health-food market in Venice, Calif.
Those who support an individual's right to contract with a herd share for raw milk -- sidestepping food regulations designed to keep down the risks associated with dairy -- say that the government shouldn't interfere with an individual's private right to contract and consume.
"The CDFA wants control over every drop of milk in the state," said Kimberly Hartke, a publicist for the Campaign for Real Milk.
Because entering the milk-distribution market with licenses and inspection fees can be pricey and cost-prohibitive, small farmers often "herd-share" their dairy animals, collecting fees from those who want to have access to the animal's milk, often for consumption without pasteurization. They maintain it's a private contract and not an unlicensed public retailer.
"Consumers want this," Hartke added.
And with demand for locally sourced, raw foods only growing, the raw-milk issue is unlikely to stop getting tugged.