As recently noted, we’re looking to hire some part-time help in 2010 to allow the continued expansion of the farm, and intend to pay in farm products rather than cash. We had hoped to offer compensation not only in produce, but in cheese or yogurt as well, as another way to turn our small dairying work into useful results, since we’re forbidden from selling any of it.
I put in a call to the Missouri State Milk Board last week, with several intentions. I wanted to clarify once and for all that I couldn’t make any kind of sales of our cheese or yogurt without having a full-scale commercial facility, and I wanted to ask whether we were allowed to compensate farm employees with those products. Sure enough, the answer was quite clear that we’re criminals if we sell our cheese to anyone, and the fellow I talked to implied that it was even illegal for us to give it away in many cases, especially if the gift reached the general public. For example, I can give it to our neighbors for home use, but if I give it to them to take to a church potluck, that’s distribution and we’re in trouble. For the same reason, we can’t give it to our employees as compensation, because it’s not an otherwise saleable product. We can give it to them as friends, out of the goodness of our hearts, but not as employers, in thanks for a job well done. Even if they helped take care of the animals and saw how the cheese was produced? Nope, came the answer, it’s dangerous.
By the way, if you want a quick headache, go read through the stacks of regulations and guidelines for dairying. Then never complain about the price of milk, cheese, cream, or butter again, from any source.
So in conclusion, by direct communication with those in charge, we can pay our employees in raw milk, but not in cheese. What an absurd system.