Colorado Public Health Officials Go On the Warpath–A Farm Store Shut Down, Milk Producers Receive Cease-and-Desist Orders, Customers “In Tears” Over Food Losses

For 18 years, Phil Haynes has been selling his ranch’s buffalo meat through a store at the ranch, Rocky Plains Quality Meats, outside the northern Colorado town of Dacono.

Over the years, he opened a second store in nearby Loveland and added pork and chicken from other area producers, along with locally-produced fish. And a little over three years ago, he added raw goat’s and cow’s milk, produced by a nearby farm under Colorado’s cowshare law implemented five years ago.

Everything was going fine, until early December, when a feature article appeared in a local paper, profiling the raw milk supplier, Jon Erickson, owner of R Patch O’Heaven Dairy. The article quoted Erickson as saying that raw milk isn’t necessarily for everyone, and noted that demand for Erickson’s milk has been growing. The article also mentioned that Erickson’s milk was available at Haynes’ farm store.

“It was a beautiful article,” says Haynes.

A beautiful article, except that it appears to have unleashed the wrath of local and state officials on both Haynes and Erickson.

Within days of the article, and with no hint of illnesses, both of Haynes’ stores were visited by county health department regulators. They noticed that in addition to milk, Haynes offered yogurt, kefir, and cream cheese from Erickson’s dairy. That led to an investigation by the county planning board.

Within a couple weeks of the article, Haynes’ Dacono store was shut down for allegedly selling non-USDA-inspected meat and for operating a retail store in an area zoned for agriculture. He was also ordered, in the Loveland store, to move the milk out of the public area of the store, to a back area. A cease-and-desist letter threatens him with criminal charges if he doesn’t resolve all the problems within thirty days.

As for Erickson, he received a cease-and-desist order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, demanding he discontinue making raw milk products like yogurt, butter, cream cheese, and kefir; only raw milk was allowed under Colorado’s cow share law passed in 2005, the letter indicated.

Moreover, it seems at least two other Colorado dairies have been served with similar cease-and-desist orders in the last few months.

I spoke with an official of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, who said the actions against Haynes and Erickson don’t represent a new campaign against raw milk and other nutrient-dense food. Patti Klocker, assistant director for the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability for the Colorado DPHE, told me, “A number of things were going wrong here (at Haynes’ stores), so we did collaborate on this” with county public health authorities in going after Haynes. 

As for Erickson’s raw dairy, she said Colorado’s law allowing cow share operations only sanctions fluid milk. “It does not allow access to raw milk products.” She said three dairies have been asked  to “please discontinue this practice” of making other raw dairy products available to their shareholders. She said her department has “always intepreted the law in that fashion” and goes after dairies in violation “when it’s brought to our attention”–whether from county health officials or newspaper articles.

As for the requirement that Haynes, in the Loveland store that is still open, place raw milk in an area of the store out of view of shoppers, Klocker said that is necessary so it “is not getting mixed up with pasteurized products.”

She suggested that Colorado public health officials have become more watchful of raw milk producers in light of two  outbreaks of illness attributed to raw milk in the last two years.

Haynes says he has inquired in past years about any possible zoning problems for his Dacono farm store, and been told he was in compliance. He also says the health inspector got the facts wrong on his meat, that it is from a USDA-inspected facility, and packaging stamped as such. He thinks that’s all beside the point, in any event.

“This is a small piece of what’s going on in the U.S.,” he told me. “I can no longer buy a product that is good for me…The biggest thing they are taking away is my rights. I no longer have the right to purchase what I want to. It’s not about zoning. It’s not about raw milk. It’s about freedom.”

His customers are quite upset, he added. “We have almost 200 families picking up their milk here. Raw milk products are fixing their children’s illnesses. We have people on chemo therapy using it to re-build their immune systems.”

Some of his customers say they can’t tolerate commercial meat, as well. His store’s closure “is frightening to them,” and a few have been “in tears…I had a woman last week who started crying when I told her she couldn’t get meat here. And another one wondered about the yogurt. I said the yogurt is gone, it’s not coming back.”

Erickson is a member of the board of the Raw Milk Association of Colorado, and argues that because the law on cow shares doesn’t prohibit raw dairy products besides milk, they must be allowed.

Neither Haynes nor Erickson wanted to discuss what steps they’ll take to deal with the clampdown by Colorado officials.

There are obviously a number of things occurring here. Public health officials, who are highly suspicious of raw milk under any circumstances, are putting producers under heightened surveillance, and tightly enforcing their view of the existing law. But the word also seems to be going out to local public health and planning/zoning officials to get in on the act, much as they did in Minnesota with the shutdown of a farm store and Minneapolis buying club in light of illnesses attributed to the Hartmann Farm.

What are producers and distributors to do? Trying to fight regulators intent on putting you out of business can be a losing battle, since there’s always another regulation or requirement to fulfill. ?That is the question for these and a growing number of other producers and sellers of nutrient-dense food.


A commentary on the times: One of my articles on Grist last year, about the increasing number of farm raids, was ranked among the ten most popular for the year (actually, #7).

Leave a Reply

35 Comments on "Colorado Public Health Officials Go On the Warpath–A Farm Store Shut Down, Milk Producers Receive Cease-and-Desist Orders, Customers “In Tears” Over Food Losses"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
lola granola
January 6, 2011 2:31 am

Does anyone have the statute that legalized cow shares in Colorado (and any CO Dept. of Ag. Acts regarding this statute)?

Discussing who's in the right and who's in the wrong is a moot point until we see the legislation that regulates these activities.

January 6, 2011 3:02 am

He was giving it to chemo patients? Thank goodness he wasn't smart enough to obey the law. Shut. Down.

Janeen Covlin
January 6, 2011 4:26 am

John Doe… Isn't that TERRIBLE- I bet he held him down and "tubed" him! That evil dairy farmer…

January 6, 2011 4:33 am

He was giving it to chemo patients? Thank goodness he wasn't smart enough to obey the law."

Absolute nonsense. What would you have chemo patients drink… Ensure?

My 81-yo mother underwent chemo for lymphoma four years ago, and drank raw goatmilk before, during and ever since. Sometimes it was the ONLY thing that she could keep down while in chemo, and she rebounded faster than she would have had she sucked down that disgusting and literally sickening Ensure during those times as her doctor recommended. She has been drinking raw goat milk every day for the last eight years, ever… Read more »

Truly Concerned
January 6, 2011 5:21 am

I believe John Doe is actually Dr. Josef Mengele returned from the dead.

The Complete Patient
January 6, 2011 5:34 am

lola granola,
Here is one interpretation of the Colorado legislation, passed in 2005, that allows cow shares.

From that assessment: "Farmers running cowshare programs can only distribute unpasteurized 'fluid milk products' legally. Under state regulatory definitions, this would include milk, cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese. This would not include butter and cheese. State regulations define butter and cheese as manufactured milk and dairy products. The state code prohibits any cowshare programs involving manufactured milk and dairy products."

Clearly, the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment interprets the provisions differently.

So part of the problem is… Read more »

lola granola
January 6, 2011 7:31 am

Part of the problem is that we depend on someone else's "interpretation" of the statutes instead of going to the statues directly, ourselves.

Here's the statute I was looking for:

SECTION 1. Part 1 of article 5.5 of title 25, Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read:

25-5.5-117. Raw milk. (1) The acquisition of raw milk from cows or goats by a consumer for use or consumption by the consumer shall not constitute the sale of raw milk and shall not be prohibited if all of the following conditions are met:

… Read more »

Mark McAfee
January 6, 2011 8:41 am

Colorado has just graduated….Congrats!!!

Six years ago when I spoke at the hearings to legalize the Colorado Cow Share system we knew this day would come. In fact, it appears to be right on time. Six years is about right.

These were the anticipated growing pains and reflect the growing need and public sentiments about their farmers and whole foods including raw milk. In the last six years the public has become accustomed to raw milk and its availability has grown. Compliments to RMAC and its producers, consumers and leadership….good job!!

Now the next steps. It is time to legalize raw… Read more »

Bill Anderson
January 6, 2011 11:04 am

Once again, this just demonstrates that the so-called "food safety" establishment has nothing to do with food safety and everything to do with enforcing corporate-state control of everything.

Anyone who understands food science understands that lowering the pH of a dairy product through promoting beneficial cultures inherintly creates protective properties against pathogens, when compared to a high-pH high-moisture product such as fluid drinking milk.

In the case of a product like yogurt or kefir the very low pH (often below 4.0) will cause undesirables to perish. In the case of butter, pH is not the determining factor, but that nearly… Read more »

Bill Anderson
January 6, 2011 11:12 am

"Applications of bio-technology in traditional fermented foods"

Gordon Watson
January 6, 2011 11:24 am

no, John Doe is a little troll … one of those people spoken of in the Bible, who don't go to bed happy unless they've done some evil for the day … sent to wear out the saints

G. Edward Griffin had cancer back in about the 70s. He says something like – paraphrase – 'until the person with cancer gives up faith in mainstream medicine, he cannot begin to heal himself'
I tell people to make sure they do NOT say "raw milk cures cancer" Dr Joanna Budwig was half a century ahead of the herd, with… Read more »

Carol Peterson
January 6, 2011 7:06 pm

"He was giving it to chemo patients?"

I'm pretty sure he wasn't 'giving' it to them but they were coming for it on their own, which means it was probably helping them. But of course we are no longer allowed to think for ourselves, we are expected all to be dumbed down to take in all the govt propaganda on what is 'good' for us. Heaven help us.

I took medicine for 13 years for a problem that didn't go away. Nearly 6 years ago I started drinking raw milk and I was cured. Thank goodness that… Read more »

Smy Opin
January 6, 2011 8:51 pm

I drank raw goat milk while on chemo.
I was under the care of both a conventional oncologist and a naturopathic doctor at the same time. They collaborated on my care.

A patient on chemo is not in a constant state of very low immunity. It fluctuates and steadily goes down the longer you take the drugs. Your immune system is constantly monitored.
We decided I would continue raw milk until the time that my immune system dropped to X. I would hold off until it came back up to Y.

But my immune system did not drop… Read more »

lola granola
January 6, 2011 9:50 pm

A good article, if anyone's interested.

"Cancer Is A Fungus…And It Is Curable":

lola granola
January 6, 2011 10:21 pm

Is anyone else alarmed that what these people in Colorado were doing was blatantly illegal?

I'm starting to see a pattern…Michael Hartmann could legally sell raw milk under the MN Constitution, but instead broke the law and sold items that came from off-farm sources. And now these people in Colorado could legally sell raw milk through their cow share laws, but broke the law and not only sold value-added products, but also sold it off-farm and in a retail setting.

As I always say…I don't care if you break the law, just be aware that you're doing so. And… Read more »

Ken Conrad
January 7, 2011 12:17 am


You would probably find this book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot very interesting.

Ken Conrad

January 7, 2011 12:46 am

Thanks for the link on cancer, Lola.

I read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" several months ago… fascinating. Highly recommended.

Mark McAfee
January 7, 2011 12:58 am

When a law is passed in the USA and that law was passed as a favor and with the seduction and payment delivered by Monsanto CAFO PMO Corporate prostitutes, and that law does not serve people but only the needs of the GMO dead food fascists trying to stay in power…is that a true law??? How can the needs of people be served by laws that sicken the people.

Martin Luther King said this about laws:

"One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to… Read more »

Blair McMorran
January 7, 2011 12:43 pm

Lola wrote:
"Is anyone else alarmed that what these people in Colorado were doing was blatantly illegal?"

I challenge this perception – You posted the statute, so tell me what is blatantly illegal about what they were doing?

Statute says "A person who is the owner of a cow share or goat share in a cow, goat, or dairy herd may receive raw milk on behalf of another owner of the same cow, goat, or dairy herd."

The store owners were shareholders of the dairy, who are allowed to pick up / hold milk for other shareholders of the same dairy. … Read more »

Mark McAfee
January 7, 2011 2:26 pm

Go Blaire!!! You make an excellent argument

Lead your people out of the desert!!!


Shana Milkie
January 7, 2011 11:29 pm

Blair, your points are excellent and well-stated.

lola granola
January 7, 2011 11:46 pm

You're right, Blair, it is allowed under statute for one shareholder of a dairy to pick up and hold milk of another shareholder of the same dairy. Is this what was done?

The owners of the store may have been shareholders, but as soon as it was put into their retail store, it was the store – an LLP – who was holding the milk, not the store owners. Was the LLP also a shareholder in the dairy?

Is it allowed under Colorado law to hold food items that are not for retail sale in a retail food establishment?… Read more »

Mark McAfee
January 8, 2011 3:56 am

My gut says that the politics of the legal CO Cow Share arrangements got stretched to the breaking point when the manufactured products come into play. All is ok with just the raw milk….but creams, and yogurts etc….that is over the edge.

We must all remember that each of these products have a Standard of Identity under the PMO and under CO State Law. There is jealous market protection and legal enforcement about these products and their strict legal definitions. Innocent customer serving farmers can not approach these issues niavely. If a farmer wants to do things outside of… Read more »

Michael Bortnick
January 8, 2011 7:17 am

At the Uncheese Party Blog:

Missouri farmstead cheese plant, Morningland Dairy is going to be in Howell County Circuit Court at 9am Central time on Tuesday, January 11th. The Missouri Attorney Generals Office is charging Morningland with 3 criminal charges and has also filed a Preliminary Injunction in hopes of getting a court order to destroy Morningland Dairys cheese.

Read about it:

Bill Anderson
January 8, 2011 8:19 am
Bill Anderson
January 8, 2011 8:22 am

re: Standards of Identity, we need to estalish standards of identity of for raw milk and raw milk products.

Already, big industry is trying to co-opt our market with heat-treated fake "raw milk" cheese, and ultra-filtration is sure to follow for drinking milk (and possibly other cultured fluid milk products).

The best way to combat this is to establish a standard of identity for REAL raw milk and cultured products (including cheese and butter made from REAL raw milk.)

However, this requires that we break outside the narrow ideological ultra-libertarian confines that have such a strangle hold on the raw milk movement.… Read more »

Milky Way
January 8, 2011 9:24 am


Gov. Walker, "I'll Sign Raw Milk Bill With Safeguards"


Bill Anderson
January 8, 2011 10:10 am


Jim Doyle (outgoing governor) said the same thing.

Then he changed his mind at the last minute (literally — under 24 hours before the bill had to be vetoed or would automatically pass into law) under extreme pressure from the WI dairy processing lobby.

I couldn't help but notice that Farm Bureau is still opposed to the bill, although it seems some of the other corporate agri-business interest will stand on the sidelines this time because of all the public embarassment it caused them last time around.

I say we start organizing mass boycotts of every cheesemaker who opposes… Read more »

Bill Anderson
January 8, 2011 10:17 am

Violet, I couldn't help but notice this comment on the above link to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal article. The commenter's screen name is "jimtherepublican"

"You know I'm so tired of this fight. It's clear the twigs & berries crowd is bound and determined to do this. It's sooooo stupid. I'm the grandson of a dairy farmer. My grandfather didn't buy a single item that wasn't needed. In the 30's & 40's money was very tight. Before the home had running water, he purchased a Sears & Roebuck home pasteurizer. No matter how "healthy" a farmer may think his animals are,… Read more »

Violet Willis
January 8, 2011 12:14 pm

Bill . . . .

We have all been consuming raw milk for the last five years . . . .

My daughter, Brynne who just turned three is now beginning to read and has never been on antibiotics or had an ear infection in her life. She is the picture of health. My son . . . . well he is now 11 and is happy and healthy and very, very intelligent. We were told he would have severe problems after his birth trauma put him in the hospital as an infant for 8 weeks.… Read more »

Violet Willis
January 8, 2011 12:31 pm

Okay . . . . So I am going to be a cheesemaker like Bill Anderson . . . .

I really want to make a fantastic cheddar. I am currently looking for a milk source.

This is what I look for . . .

A farmer who loves what they do.

Great herd of healthy Jersey cows.

No stink in the barn. Good eyes, alert ears, grass/hay only. Low coliform count monthly.

Milk that is silky with fat and slightly grassy in flavor.

Cheese that I make is great . . . .

No regulation . . . I determine… Read more »

January 8, 2011 2:18 pm

Sounds great, Violet. Seems likely no regulators will ever care or bother you, unless you mess-up and customers get sick. Then, like all food producers, you might be subject to an investigation through the county/state health department. But, given your care to details and hygiene, that probably will never happen. The commonality of raw milk farms subjected to the so-called "warpath" have had multiple positive pathogen tests and/or documented hygiene problems. There are numerous farms that in the same states that don't have these problems. What are they, like you, doing right?

Bill Marler
January 9, 2011 9:55 am

Say group, does anyone have the documents submitted by the raw milk supporters to Humboldt County?

Also, Mark, if you (or anyone on this site) have specific concerns about mistakes on, please send them along.

Mark McAfee
January 9, 2011 12:48 pm

Bill Marler,

You are not a fascist. I did not call you a fascist. My comment was regarding a culture of fascism that permiates the regulatory control over our food in America. You are being used as a tool in that fascist and oppressive operation.

What I find biased and wrong about the Marler Real Milk Facts website is this:

There is literally no balance. No posting of the benefits of raw milk. No voice of the tens of thousands of passionate "normal people" that consume raw milk. Not one word of the benefits. Not one word.

Your website… Read more »

Violet Willis
January 10, 2011 11:36 am

Lykke . . . . Oh you just wish I would mess up don't you:)

Not going to happen because I have a liscened and inspected store and our poultry are inspected by the state and if we choose to sell individual cuts of our lamb . . . . a USDA processing plant will be processing our meats:) As hard as it is for us farmers with all the regs . . . . we still do things by the book . . . .

As a regulator . . . I would hope… Read more »