Farmer Faces Six Years for Sale of Raw Milk

Santa Paula, California farmer Sharon Palmer is scheduled to be arraigned this week for unlicensed sale of raw goat milk and other raw dairy products. Palmer’s arrest and arraignment is the result of a yearlong investigation of her Healthy Family Farms in Ventura County.

Palmer is being charged with a series of milk violations, some going back several years. In 2008, she was charged with 16 misdemeanor charges, stemming from her illegal and unlicensed sale of unpasteurized milk.  The most recent charges are the result of a yearlong investigation that claims to have linked her farm with the illegal sale of unpasteurized milk at a local farmers market. Overall, Palmer faces up to six years if convicted of all charges.

The case has reignited debates over the pasteurization of dairy products and the safety of consuming unpasteurized milk products. Palmer and her supporters, the sale and production of raw milk is relatively safe. Palmer’s lawyer went as far as to compare his client’s charges with an administrative violation.

Others, however, claim that the consumption of raw milk can be a major health danger. Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, stated that while the sale of unpasteurized milk is legal in California, it is strictly regulated and requires state inspections ad licensure. Palmer, he claims, knew these requirements and chose to ignore them, exposing California consumers to a series of health dangers.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer