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A Full Harvest Season Since The Food Freedom Act Passed

Melodie Edwards
Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming farmers have now experienced a full farmer’s market season since the Food Freedom Act was passed, last legislative session. The Act allows Wyoming farmers to sell many goods they couldn’t in the past, such as raw milk, eggs, and fermented foods. Wyoming Farmer’s Market Association board member Bren Lieske says she was able to expand her business into making bread and fermented tea called kombucha and plans to sell raw goat’s milk in the future.

But, she says, with more business came more risk.

“It’s tough because it’s really hard to find insurance. I had to call a lot of different agents. There are some things online that you can join that help the farmer but there’s nothing real active in Wyoming yet. And so with the Food Freedom Act, it just opens up the avenue to where we’re aware that we really need to find insurance.”

She says many farmers have been selling raw milk and cheese, but some dairies are being cautious and not taking advantage of the new law. Instead, they're sticking with the old method of offering raw milk by selling shares of their cows directly to customers. 

“Because that way they know their consumer personally. And that is so vital because we’re a landmark state. We’re the only state that has this law that we can sell practically anything. We don’t want the producers to find out that one of their customers is sick.”

Lieske says, Wyoming producers have the opportunity to model to other states that less regulation of locally-produced foods can be safe and good for local economies.

She says her organization will evaluate whether farmer’s markets have done more business because of the Food Freedom Act when they look at the numbers next spring.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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