Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Graduating from Cow-Share College and Goat-Share University!

Learning to sell shares can bring you more profits.

Are you thinking about selling shares of your cows or goats in order to supply folks with raw milk?  Economically, this could make a lot of sense for you.  Check out this chart to see why:

We highly recommend getting yourself educated before you begin.  It is not as simple as you might think.
Michael Schmidt (Cowshare Canada) and Tim Wightman (Cowshare USA) have founded cowshare colleges to educate farmers about how to start and maintain a cowshare/goatshare operation.


Michael Schmidt, the well known Canadian farmer who won his lengthy court battle in January, taught his first course May 1st at his own Glencolton Farm in Durham, Ontario.  There were 22 participants and they all received certificates of completion at the end of the day.  According to an article in The Bovine, these were the topics they covered:

Safe Raw Milk Production
Farm Management
Cow breeding
Animal Husbandry

Biology of Milk
Safe Handling of Raw Milk
cleaning procedures
testing procedures

Cow Share: a co-operative structure
current legislation
Kowarsky cow share ruling
social responsibility

Cow Share member relations
how to connect
how to maintain
how to develop reliable partnerships
how to manage expectations

Accreditation Process
completion of courses
baseline testing
testing requirements of cows
inspection by independent dairy inspector
Final accreditation

As you can see, consumers who buy their shares from accredited farmers have reason to feel good about the arrangement they have.  According to Michael Schmidt's website, plans are already underway for another Cowshare College in Ontario in October, a more advanced session in November, and even Cowshare College sessions in other provinces.  To register, contact Danielle at or call 416-652-7867 ext. 250.


Here in the US, classes began in Fall, 2008, sponsored by the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation.   This year, classes started in April in the form of "teleseminars" which you can take in the comfort of your home.  There will be classes available in October on Thursday afternoons and evenings.

 The following information comes directly from the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation website:
PRICE: Each teleseminar is $35.
DISCOUNT: Buy three for $95 or all four for $125
AUDIENCE: For farmers at all levels of cow/goat-share experience, and consumers who want to learn more about the topic.
METHOD: When it’s time for the teleseminar, just pick up the phone and dial the long distance number and password you’ll get after you register.  You’ll need long distance access and a touch tone phone to participate. During lectures, all callers will be placed on mute, to decrease background noise distractions. Participant interaction is encouraged during the Question and Answer sessions and the entire 104 session, which is totally devoted to interactive activity.
LONG DISTANCE CHARGES: Tuition does not include any applicable charges for your long distance call. Many of our participants use cell phones with free long distance. Another alternative is using a discount long distance service from a discounter like OneSuite.
CLASS SIZE: Teleseminars will have a minimum of 5 and maximum of 25 participants.

101 - Legal Basis for Share Operations - Pete Kennedy, Esq.
102 - NEW! Goat-Share Operations  - Sharon Wilson
103 - Cow-Share Operations - Tim Wightman
104 - Legal and Operations Forum - Pete Kennedy, Esq, Sharon Wilson and Tim Wightman

Pete Kennedy, Esq. presents a legal overview of share operations and a discussion of the differences between the various types (cow/goat, herd or farm-shares).
(1 hour lecture and 30 minutes questions and answers)
102 – OPERATIONS (Goat-Shares)
Past attendees with goat-shares asked for their own class focusing on goats. Beginners and experienced goat-share operators will benefit from Sharon Wilson’s advice, including important aspects to consider before starting, solutions to common problems and sure-fire ways to improve both quality and profitability.
(1 hour lecture and 30 minutes questions and answers)
103 – OPERATIONS (Cow-Shares)
Beginners and experienced cow-share operators will benefit from Tim Wightman’s advice, including important aspects to consider before starting, solutions to common problems and sure-fire ways to improve both quality and profitability.
(1 hour lecture and 30 minutes questions and answers)
104 – LEGAL AND OPERATIONS FORUM (Cow and Goat-Shares)
A favorite of past attendees - A lively forum hosted by Tim Wightman, Sharon Wilson and Pete Kennedy, Esq. for getting your most important legal and operations questions answered.
(1 hour and 30 minutes open question and answer forum)

Pete Kennedy, Esq. is an attorney and President, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and VP, Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. He works on dairy issues, particularly, the right of farmers to distribute raw milk and raw milk products direct to consumers. Each week, he helps farmer members of the Fund with cow or goat-share operation start-ups. He compiled the state raw milk laws and state raw milk summaries posted a He is currently working with others to challenge the federal ban on the interstate shipment of raw milk for human consumption.
Tim Wightman is President, Farm-to-Consumer Foundation and founding board member for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. He has pioneered CSAs, organic cooperatives, farmers’ markets, the cow-share program and the farm-share program while living in Northern Wisconsin. Tim consults worldwide with dairy farmers on cow-shares, raw milk safety and direct marketing and is the author of the “Raw Milk Production Handbook”.
Sharon Wilson is a charter member and currently Treasurer, Raw Milk Association of Colorado (RMAC).  She is the owner, operator of Natural Choice Dairy, LLC a goat herd-share in Colorado.  As a Board member of RMAC, she has been helping to create test standards for goats along with product standards and recommended process standards. Sharon has been consulting other potential goat share operations in and out of state for the last five years.

Register online or call 703-208-FARM (3276) Monday- Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern.

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