State law permits people to obtain unpasteurized milk from unlicensed dairy farms that have three or fewer cows, according to the Tribune. Such small dairy farms do not have to be licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, but they are not supposed to advertise or sell milk to anyone who does not physically pick it up.
Washington law allows the sale of raw milk if the dairy farm is licensed and the milk is labeled as potentially dangerous.
Other states also have restrictions against the sale of raw milk, but advocates have found ways to get around the laws pertaining to the sale of unpasteurized milk.
Selling the raw milk as a pet product which can then be sold is one method. A consumer buy the “for pets” product and consumes it themselves.
Another method is “cow-sharing,” where people buy “shares” of a cow rather than the milk itself. In this method, people drink the milk provided by their “pet” for free, because they “own” the cow.
Dee Creek Farm, the source of the current E.coli outbreak, practiced such “cow-sharing”. They were unlicensed to sell raw milk to the public, but feel that people are free to consume the milk of a cow they “own”.
Officials are trying to determine the legality of the practice. Oregon Department of Agriculture officials have asked the Oregon Department of Justice whether state laws and department rules permit “cow-sharing”.