Fort Worth targets raw milk from Hill County

There is an ongoing battle in Fort Worth over who is allowed to sell unpasteurized milk. Todd Unger has the story.

HILL COUNTY — Life and work on Rosey Ridge Farm is pretty simple. That is how operator Eldon Hooley likes it.

"We run a very clean, raw milk operation," he said. "People are really wanting to get back to real food again."

But Hooley's selling practices have come under suspicion from the City of Fort Worth, nearly 40 miles to the north.

He is facing more than $3,000 in fines on charges he distributed "unfit" food, and operated an illegal food establishment.

"I never delivered anything to Fort Worth," he said. "When it leaves the farm, it's bought and paid for, and in the hands of the consumer."

Some of those consumers have taken Hooley's product and funneled it into food co-ops in Fort Worth.

For years, he said the procedure didn't raise much concern because a co-op isn't a restaurant or a retail business, and therefore wasn't subject to the same regulations.

But in June, an updated ordinance was passed by the City Council which moved "to clarify that it is the distribution of raw milk and raw milk products which is prohibited, regardless of retail status."

LINK: Fort Worth unpasteurized milk ordinance

Hoolely is licensed to sell raw dairy products out of Rosey Ridge Farm, but says he is now being targeted as if he were selling or operating an establishment within Fort Worth itself.

"I'm looking at getting a lawyer, and have had lots of support," he said. "I live two counties away."

As reported in the Fort Worth Weekly, a growing Facebook group called Real Milk Texas is trying to raise awareness about raw dairy products.

While the movement is growing, there are also increased health concerns with raw milk, according to the federal government.

City documents state they proposed the change in law because of "citizen-initiated complaints."

An e-mail and phone call to the Fort Worth Consumer Health Department hasn't yet been returned.


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