What are They?
Cowshare programs have begun to evolve around our country in response to the general public’s desire to eat more naturally and the government’s sanctions against such behavior. In most states it is illegal to sell raw milk as a food item. This is the case in the State of Kentucky as well as in its neighboring states of Ohio and Indiana (To learn more about the health benefits of real milk, click here).
Concerned families that desired to drink pure unadulterated milk were then faced with a dilemma as to how to obtain it for their families. Many were unable to maintain their own cow because of constraints in their own housing situation or work requirements. It was the movement of these families – not aggressive marketing by farmers – that brought about the evolution of cowshare programs.
In such an arrangement, families come together and share in the ownership interest of the dairy cow(s). They contract with a farmer to board their cows. The farmer in most cases is responsible for the housing, feeding, veterinary needs, and milking of the cows. A formal contract is signed by both parties agreeing to the boarding requirements. The families that have contracted are then permitted to consume the milk from their cow(s) in a proportion equal to that of their ownership interest. This is in full compliance of the Kentucky State Statutes that outlined that an owner of an animal is entitled to all the rights and privileges of that animal.
Isn’t It Simply Then Just a Smokescreen for the Sale of Raw Milk?
The answer to this question at the Double O Farms is “No”.
The owners in our program are integral in working with the farmer in making decisions about the care of the cows, their diet, and hygiene practices. An Annual Owners Inspection Open House is conducted that allows the owners to visit the farm and make recommendations for future enhancements and changes. These changes and recommendations are then put out to a general shareholders vote. It was through this mechanism that the program initiated our glass bottle program. In addition, capital campaigns were initiated by the owners to fund the construction costs and other expenses related to moving the farm.
At the Double O Farms, our owners are an extension of our family. We have worked side by side with them in bottling milk, conducting work projects on the farm, and battling legal obstacles to insure their future access to the milk from their cows. The cowshare program is definitely not just a smokescreen for the sale of raw milk.
How do I Get Involved?
In order to be an owner in the cowshare program, an individual would contact the farm by phone or email. We would then arrange for you to receive a copy of the boarding agreement for you to review and a complimentary gallon of milk to try and share with your family.
If you are completely satisfied with the quality and taste of the milk and are comfortable with the terms of the boarding agreement, you would then return the signed agreement along with the initial investment amount based on the shares purchased. This initial investment is your purchase price into the dairy herd. You now have ownership interest in the cows.
The ongoing costs of the program are the flat rate boarding fees that are paid at the beginning of each month. This is the remuneration to the farmer for his services in taking care of your cow. Because it is a boarding fee and not payment for milk, it is not dependent upon your picking up your milk nor can it be adjusted if you should choose not to get milk for any reason. The agreed upon quantity of milk based on your ownership in the dairy herd will be made available to you each week by the farmer.