LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) — On July 3, the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) ordered the destruction of over $90,000 worth of raw dairy products from the Nourish Cooperative in Marcellus, Michigan. This action followed a May 28 raid where the cooperative was found selling raw dairy labeled as “pet food” under a feed license — a common practice in other jurisdictions but not permitted under Michigan’s feed licensing regulations, according to GetRawMilk.com.

Nourish Cooperative, founded in September 2023 by first-generation regenerative farmers, aims to provide high-quality, nutrient-dense foods such as low-PUFA eggs, raw milk, and grass-fed meats. The cooperative’s mission aligns with a broader movement towards sustainable and regenerative agriculture, which seeks to work harmoniously with nature to produce food for humans and animals. 

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 “By providing food rich in nutrients and low in harmful PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids), we empower families to make informed choices that support long-term well-being,” Nourish Cooperative said in a statement.

Despite Michigan being a herdshare state, where consumers must join private membership associations to acquire raw dairy products, the state issued a “cease and desist” order to the cooperative for regulatory violations. The unannounced raid by MDARD involved four state inspectors who scrutinized the cooperative’s facilities for four to five hours, as reported by Mercola.  

According to GetRawMilk.com, the destroyed food was produced to the same standards as it would have been for herdshare distribution, but the State of Michigan denied the co-op’s request to keep the food for themselves or restructure it under a private membership association.

During the destruction on July 3, two MDARD employees supervised as Nourish Cooperative staff were forced to dump the seized products.

Michigan, like many states, has a complex regulatory environment for raw dairy products. While raw cheese aged for 60 days is legal to sell and buy, other raw dairy products face stricter scrutiny (7 CFR § 58.439).

The sale of raw milk, for example, is strictly regulated. State laws prohibit the retail sale of unpasteurized milk due to concerns over foodborne illnesses that can be transmitted through such products. 

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According to the MDARD website, their “number one priority is assuring the food grown, transported and processed in the state is safe and wholesome.” Moreover, MDARD affirms both the FDA’s position and the American Medical Association’s claim that “‘All milk sold for human consumption should be required to be pasteurized.’”