We need your help… Private Property Legislation in Utah

After a long winter layoff, it’s back to work.

First order of business is… wait for it… asking you to help us get a piece of legislation passed.

Bet you weren’t expecting that. After all, farmers aren’t politicians. No, but we’re passionate individuals who can easily tell right from wrong, justice from injustice, and the over reach of government on a regular basis.

So here goes.

We (a group of Utah small farmers), are asking you to help us get “cow sharing” made legal again in Utah.

What’s “cow sharing”?

Simply put it’s when you share physical ownership of a cow with a few other people, and choose to have that cow boarded, fed, and milked by a third party, and to pay that individual for their work. It applies equally to other hooved animals, including goats, sheep, and camelids.

Why isn’t it legal?

Prior to 2007, this process was legal, until a rather wealthy individual went to his legislator with a proposal to sell “raw milk” retail… that is, in a store. When it was all said and done, a law was passed to allow the retail sale of fresh unprocessed milk in a retail store as long as the store owner also held at least 51% ownership of the both the herd and the dairy. The law also outlawed the custom of “cow sharing”.

Now, wouldn’t you know it, there was only one individual, who could qualify… you guessed it. The guy who as for the new law!

Why is the “cow sharing” custom important to you or anyone else?

No matter where you stand on what someone should or should not drink, this bill is completely about private property rights. It’s about the right to jointly own an animal with others, and board it elsewhere for convenience, or as a matter of necessity. It’s also about the right to enjoy the “fruits of that animal” and to pay the keeper for his/her costs.

Already legal in Utah is the right to jointly own an animal, board it elsewhere, and pay the farmer. Think boarding of horses, purchasing calves and having the farmer raise them until time to process them for your freezer. Same thing with hogs, sheep, and goats.

What are we asking you to do?

If you live in Utah, we’re asking you to contact the House Agriculture Committee, and to express your support on our behalf. Also, if possible, we’re asking your to attended this committee meeting on Friday,  February 6. While it’s not yet listed on the Committee calendar, our people have been assured the bill will be taken up in committee that day.

Here is a link to the actual bill, HB 104.

Here are the unlinked email addresses of the committee members.  All you have to do is copy/paste each of the addresses into your email program.


Here is a copy of the letter I sent. Notice, it’s personal to my situation and interest. Please make your letter personal, also.

Dear Rep Noel,

I urge you to favorably consider HB 104 as a bill about private property rights.

For example,

I have a friend who travels for business.  However she would like to keep a dairy goat. At this time,  I have room for her goat, and am willing to care for her goat, feed it, and even milk it, in exchange for  payment for my time and  costs. She would like to have some, if not all the milk back for the rest of her family.

Should I choose to enter into this arrangement, both of us would become criminals, running afoul of the Utah Dairy Act regarding  Cow Shares.

It really seems unfair, and even totally unreasonable to me. She’s making an effort to keep her family somewhat “connected” to the land, and yet, Utah, a state which prides itself in protection of private property, makes this arrangement totally illegal.

**I fully understand you may feel very conflicted, as a member of the Utah Farm Bureau. Please, this is all about the rights of individuals to enjoy their animals, and the fruits thereof, no matter the location, or the arrangement agreed upon with the farmer.

Please, I urge you to pass this out of committee, so the bill can get a full and robust debate.

Shari Thomas
Beryl, Utah

** Included only for the three Farm Bureau members, Reps Noel, Chew, and Sandall.

Can you attend the meeting? If you live in Southern Utah (Cedar City/St George, etc) and want to carpool to Salt Lake City, leave me a comment with a way to get a hold of you. I will put you in touch with drivers.

Please, remember…This is not about the milk. It’s all about private property rights.


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5 comments on “We need your help… Private Property Legislation in Utah
  1. Symbria says:

    Thank You for spending time to move this forward as we are small in numbers and opposed by the Farm Bureau, UDA, and the Dairy Association!

  2. camille says:

    I appreciate the concern . Thank you for your actions . I support this cause and concern as vital and critical for the rights of the people.Keep me posted and let me know how I can help . I am descendant of family who brought the first cow to Utah . Harriet Page Wheeler Decker Young ( Brigham Young Company 1847 ). I grew up on cattle ranch in Wyoming ( Pinedale ). Grandfather had quest ranch at headwaters of Green River. WE always had fresh milk, butter , cheese and cream . Keep up good work.

    • therealshari says:

      Thanks Camille.

      If you can make it to the meeting in SLC Friday, that would be awesome. Right now, the meeting is scheduled for 2 pm. In the meantime, if you’ve not yet contacted the legislators listed, please either call or email them with your request that they pass this bill out of committee and to the House floor for a full and robust debate. Thanks for your support.

  3. Janice Davison says:

    I believe that the private property owners should have the right to cow sharing.

  4. Esther olschewski says:

    Here is a portion of my email:

    I feel strongly that city farmers, such as my husband and myself need to be allowed the freedom to use their land and resources in ways that benefit our families. My husband and I intentionally bought our half acre of land, which is agriculturally zoned, because we feel that our children will eat better, be healthier- but also be better stewards of the land and more compassionate individuals, if they have the opportunity to care for animals.

    Milk products are essential in our plans, but our hands are tied, because of the existing laws. Our small family can not possibly use all the milk produced by one cow. And just as with our extra eggs and fruit, we would like to share these healthy foods with others, while offsetting our costs.

    Please consider how unfair, and prejudiced the existing law is-in that it does not let families choose to be a part of a healthy community of like-minded small farmers.

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