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Is Your Raw Milk Priced For The Long Run?

Free training so you can be confident your raw milk is priced for profit:

Tune in to today’s video to hear my insights on pricing your raw milk sustainably so you can be in business for years to come.

But first – get my free pricing spreadsheets so you know strategically what you should be charging:

#009 How to Price Your Farm Products for Profit (Part 1)

Be sure to then listen to episode 10 & 11 – it’s a 3 part series all on pricing.

You’ll see my exact pricing plan on my farm that you can customize to where you live.

Unfortunately, in the 15 years I’ve been drinking raw milk, especially the last couple years as it becomes more popular, I see more and more producers go out of business leaving many families needing raw milk and unable to find it elsewhere.

In this video, I share some insights and tips that will hopefully help you join me in producing raw milk for the long run.

Now it’s your turn!  Join in the conversation here under the video.  Tell me what you learned and if you think your raw milk is priced sustainably and are you (or is your farmer) setting yourself up to be in business for many years to come?

I’m super excited – and so are others – to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Thank you for watching and being a part of our community!



{ 38 comments… add one }
  • kate July 10, 2013, 2:55 pm

    Well done. Agree with all you’ve brought up here. Appreciate your video. We are not selling milk yet but am aware of the importance of supporting the price other raw milk producers are charging and to not under cut other small farmers. Also appreciate seeing a food off a small farm getting the price that it deserves.

    • Charlotte Smith July 10, 2013, 3:10 pm

      Thanks, Kate, and I hope to see you on our farm soon!! Good luck with the cows and goats!

  • Shawna Bar July 10, 2013, 3:28 pm

    Thank you for taking on this topic!! We are in California but live very near the Oregon border, and people to drive into Southern Oregon to get raw milk farm direct. I have been shocked at the low prices…$5 a gallon! So I have wondered what in the world we are missing, and why our milk is so expensive. We the part we have that others don’t is sustainability. Yes, we price our milk for the long haul, and I appreciate so much that you characterized it that way.

    Our herdshare is just starting, and we are in the process of selling shares. We require every new share member to attend one of our farm tours, and this is a topic we cover with them…the true costs of producing raw milk on the small scale. As owners, they have a responsiblity to understand this.

    Plenty of people do not join when they hear the price. Some are offended that we are a money-gouging greedy you-know-what. But that’s OK.

    • Charlotte Smith July 10, 2013, 3:36 pm

      That’s wonderful to hear you have priced your milk for the long haul. Hope to visit you someday – your location sounds amazing 🙂

      I know exactly what you mean by the uneducated consumer thinking we are gouging people… if they only knew what we go through!! That’s where the tough-skin comes in handy.

    • Brie July 10, 2013, 4:29 pm

      Shawna, I live in Southern Oregon and have started a herdshare and cowshare program as well. I too have been dismayed at some of the low prices for milk in the area. However, I will say that my observations have been that most of the low-cost milk producers are either hobby farms with 1-2 goats and/or people that show dairy goats and just want to sell the milk as a secondary product. I would be scared to drink some of this milk, because the focus is not on producing high quality, safe food…but rather to unload the byproduct of a lifestyle choice.

      As a micro, raw milk producer who is working hard to produce safe, clean raw milk it scares me that these “backyard” raw milk sellers are lumped in the same category as those of us that are focusing on producing safe food (i.e. attending raw milk conferences, submitting monthly milk tests, focusing on milk parlor cleanliness, ect.). Unfortunately in the eyes of consumers and more importantly policy makers we’re all the same.

      • Charlotte Smith July 10, 2013, 4:44 pm

        Brie, very good point that we are all lumped in – – consistently low plate counts and coliform counts from at least monthly testing will show if the backyard sellers are focused on food safety, too. some of them are producing a high quality product – consumers demanding test results will raise the bar for all of us.

    • cyndi June 16, 2014, 12:08 am

      Where are you at? We are 7miles in Oregon from the CA/OR line on the coast and we don’t know where to get Raw Milk. In Crescent City at the Health Food Store it is 16.00 a gallon or 8.69 a Qt and they don’t offer 1/2 Gallons. I know most farms have a waiting list a mile long and I thought could only have a few cows but I guess the Herd Share thing works. Near Grants Pass 2 hrs. inland I heard there is someone but again there is a waiting list. I get raw cheese through Azure Standard but I don’t like the sodium of 125 MG and I don’t like the taste of cheese very well.


      • cyndi June 16, 2014, 12:12 am

        I forgot to mention that my sister in law in KS has 3 jerseys and she sells it for 6.00 a gallon.
        2 hrs south of us it is against the County law in Humboldt Cty. to sell raw milk in the stores but in Del Norte County up north they can. Humboldt Creamery is a BIG Creamery and does a lot of non organic and organic.

  • mark mcAfee July 10, 2013, 3:38 pm

    Producing low risk healing delicious raw milk is not anything like produceing Raw Milk that is intended for Pasteurization. I could not agree more with your very compelling argument. A micro producer must be SUSTAINABLE! This is a safety issue and supply issue. If you can not buy good feed and keep your cow in good body condition, you are causing a set of conditions that are unsafe. A weak cow has a weak immune system and that means trouble for pathogens and low milk production. This is serious.

    Feed costs are at an all time high.Feed does not magically arrive at the farm….it costs big money. Good well trained labor is also costly….but when a micro dairy has high employee “turn over” the milk quality and practices suffer. This is a human factor and can be huge contributing factor to unsafe raw milk.

    In CA…tens of thousands of people per week buy retail raw milk at about $18-20 per gallon. Conventional Claravale all natural raw milk costs $24 per gallon ( comes in quart ) in glass bottles!! Organic is cheaper from OPDC…at $18 per gallon. It always sells out!! Raw milk is a nutricudical…a super immune food. It is not just cereal lubricant! Inspections, testing, cold chain, cleaning, towels, chemicals etc….all money!

    If you are really frustrated with the apparent high cost of quality raw milk…try the cost of immune depression and illness. Then….try the cost of buying your own cow, and milking her 365 x 7 days x 2 per day and see how blessed you are to buy super high quality raw milk.

    When these things are considered….$18-20 per gallon is a bargain….

    Consider this as well….it is always cheaper when you steal something. CA lost 105 dairies last year. For the last 4 years cost of production has been $4 higher than the farm gate market price for pasteurized milk. Suicides and bankruptcies for conventional pasteurized dairy farmers. This is crazy….Raw milk is not part of this madness!!

    Mark McAfee

    • Shawna Bar July 10, 2013, 4:20 pm

      I bought an iced latte from Starbucks a few days ago. (A rare and desperate treat after a late run to the airport!) My 12 ounce cup, about 1/3 of which was ice, made with dead commercial milk and very mediocre coffee, costs $3.20. That is $.26 an ounce, or $34 a gallon!!

      Bad coffee is $34 a gallon, and people don’t bat an eye.

      • Charlotte Smith July 11, 2013, 7:37 pm

        Great analogy. That starbucks stop is an everyday occurrence for many.

      • Toni Brock July 14, 2013, 9:54 pm

        Oh my gosh! Great point!
        I am so glad I am fortunate enough to partake in Champoeg Creamery raw milk.

    • Danielle Hughes November 6, 2015, 5:18 pm

      Mark, you hit on so much! Agree on everything. Raw milk is a conscious life change. Change can and does scare many people.

  • David Gumpert July 10, 2013, 4:11 pm

    At its heart, what Charlotte is talking about is what I refer to as “economic emancipation” for dairy farmers. They have been enslaved for years by predatory commodity pricing controlled by the huge processing corporations. Now that they have the opportunity to sell a premium product directly to consumers, they also have the opportunity to make farming sustainable, and profitable, so they can live a truly free life, and be part of a community of producers of nutrient-dense food.

    • Charlotte Smith July 10, 2013, 4:45 pm

      Very eloquently put, David. Thank you for commenting!

  • Dusty July 10, 2013, 9:34 pm

    well, you certainly have me thinking. we are a bit different in that we have been milking dairy cows for 35 years, on and off. This was for us, no one else, so i do know what is involved. Shawna Barr actually got us thinking about supplying for others, very risky in our area. We came up with a farm share idea; Mark and Shawna have both been out and met some of our co-owners. This works for us; and perhaps will work for others?
    We have 21 families in oru group, we are moving to a non-profit food club, actually voted it in last year. The group owns the cows, owns the equipment and rents the farm building and pasture. we all pay a bi-annual fee to board and feed the cows, equipment and replacement costs. In the end, our milk costs us about $2.35 a gallon.
    Now now, I hear your blood rushing to your head but before you scream, these 21 families all come otu and milk the cows, so i only milk once or twice a week; all i need for my family. We are in this as a ministry; not to make a profit. The idea is to train others to learn what to do; and then they can take it back to their community to start their own.

    All that said, I do understand what you are speaking of. Many things you mention I can see and understand what you are speaking on and why it is necessary to be sustainable; in fact i had never thought it that way through. Shawna tried to tell me 🙂 Being on the other end of the equation, having severe health issues that require raw milk; I can tell you from that stand point i could not sustain $12 a gallon milk! well, i would have to drink a LOT less of it!

    Thank you so much for this forum; I know i am the “odd man out” but thought perhaps it would help to see from all corners.

    • Charlotte Smith July 10, 2013, 9:57 pm

      Hi Dusty, I am glad you shared your model and opinion! It sounds like it works for you. The big thing you addressed is you have to milk once or twice a week – makes the schedule more family-friendly.

      It also works because it is a closed group – you all share the work and share the product and everyone appreciates the costs.

      I see your model working on a small scale really well… scattered communities like this.

      I also offer trade for farm chores in exchange for milk if someone absolutely needs it and can’t afford it. I’ve had people hoe tansy and blackberries out of pastures, unload 10 ton of hay in 90 deg. heat, etc. for milk. So there can be alternatives if it’s cost prohibitive.

      Thanks for sharing!

      • dusty July 15, 2013, 9:54 am

        Thanks and I totally agree, it works for us because we are a closed food club that work toward a goal. I have shared your video with our club members to get them thinking about the long haul. It also got me thinking about how much I do personally and will the group be able to survive without me. Hitting pencil to paper so I can give them an informed piece on pricing. We were also blown away by your udder preparation; and while skeptical at first as I get a reaction to iodine; almost all have switched to that.

  • Tom Ramler July 11, 2013, 1:30 am

    God Bless my wife. She tends to know more intuitively than I do after reading as much as I can about any given topic.

    Having been a home birth midwife for over 30 years, one of the best bits of business knowledge that she has shared with me is to deliver the best services available and then price your them accordingly. Typically this means that she is the most expensive midwife in the area.

    Many people that interview with her choose not to use her. Some that she interviews are not good candidates for a home birth so she provides them with information about other options. Those that do choose to work with her often have to make difficult financial choices but in doing so they are making an “all in” committment to a home birth.

    Home birth is not a right, its a choice.

    As a dairyman, I have the right to set the price. The consumer has the right to purchase, or not.

    • Charlotte Smith July 11, 2013, 1:57 am

      Well said, Tom. I look forward to meeting you in September – I see you’re going to be out for our event.

      • Tom Ramler July 11, 2013, 5:34 pm

        Brenda has two colorado babies due in late August and a Florida baby due mid September. It’s doubtful if she will make this trip but….babies know best when it’s time to make their appearance.

  • FoxDogFarm July 11, 2013, 5:13 am

    Charlotte, Thanks for this! We are thinking about doing raw goat milk (and/or cheese). Right now we run a vegetable CSA. We’d switch the one for the other if we did the milk/cheese. I’d like to point out that the same pricing problem occurs with the CSA vegetables. It’s a constant struggle to get the price equitable for the farmer and the consumer. And some consumers just never can cope. We have apprentices who do farm chores for food, and that works just great if people can’t pay. We’ve partly decided that in order to live the life we want, do the work we want, we just have to accept that we’ll be making less money. That is not a problem when young and fit, but now, approaching our 50s, we are wondering. What about health insurance? What about retirement? We’ve squirreled a bit away, but not enough. So basically we are depending upon the legacy of our parents to support us in our old age. Don’t know if that’s realistic for most people or not. Anyway, this is just another reason to pay attention to your pricing!

    • Charlotte Smith July 11, 2013, 7:42 pm

      Thank you for sharing. You’re right about it CSA’s having the same struggles – I have several friends whose CSA’s went out of business for similar reasons.

      You made a good point, too, that it’s not a sustainable lifestyle if you don’t have health insurance and retirement. Farmers have just as much a right to price their products to afford these necessities. As well as send their kids to college, take a vacation once in awhile, drive a car that’s younger than 20 years old…

      As the public is educated then as David Gumpert says above, we “also have the opportunity to make farming sustainable, and profitable, so they can live a truly free life, and be part of a community of producers of nutrient-dense food.”

      Best of luck on the goat milk biz!!

  • Kristin August 26, 2013, 4:51 pm

    Great content. I’ve run the numbers and I cannot support a herd share here in East Tennessee at the price I need to make ends meet. So I produce for my own family. When others in the area sell theirs for $4-5/gallon, it is hard to get & keep customers.

  • Rebekah August 26, 2013, 10:18 pm

    Thanks for the video. It validates our thinking too. Where we live, selling raw milk is illegal but we were lucky enough to find an underground market and bought raw milk for a year. We never knew who the farmer was or where he lived, for his protection. We paid $10/gallon and bought 2 gallons a week. We loved the milk so much, we spent our savings on a jersey cow last year (we rent a small acreage). Last fall, we were selling milk to friends for $8/gallon to help cover costs, but it was temporary since she was due to calve february and we dried her up in december. When she calved, we had a cow share program set up and sold a few shares. That’s been working fairly well for us. We didn’t sell enough to cover all our costs, and found we put in about the same amount of money per month as we spent buying 8 gallons of raw milk before, only we got WAY more milk for us! Now we drink at least a gallon a day between the 4 of us (plus cream for ice cream and butter). Again, this is a temporary solution because we’re moving out of town next year and buying back all our shares before we go (a share worked out to $56 one-time, with monthly boarding costs at $40/share, giving them just over a gallon/week on average). But it’s given us some great experience and provided a way for us to afford owning a cow and having all the good milk we can drink. As long as it’s illegal here, we’ll have to do the share thing (not illegal to drink milk from your own cow), but I think in the future we’ll charge even more for “boarding” so we can build up a savings account and maybe even make some money after expenses! We don’t ever plan on having a larger dairy than one or two cows though. Enough to keep us in milk and hopefully pay their expenses so our milk is free. Now we just have to find a new market when we move and start over. I don’t think we’ll have much competition, but getting people to pay that much can be tricky sometimes. Thanks for your site!

  • Jill August 31, 2013, 9:36 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much Charlotte for this great video! It was a shareholder of mine who passed it along. I am going to have to close my cowshare and move (will be restarting in new community, not to worry.) but, am trying very hard to encourage 2 or 3 to start up upon my exit. I have share members who have land and are keen and don’t want to be without the goodstuff! This video will be great for them. I am hoping to be able to train and foster them into fruition. There is demand, people are tired of paying money for dead milk which just makes them ill.
    I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Mark McAfee in Vancouver and was able to bring a few of my shareholders with me. Mark, if you are reading this, you are one of my heros! The information you presented was incredible.
    Thank you Charlotte for putting to video the concerns and financial obstacles that a small producer faces. It’s not easy. Our organic grain is $30 a bag here and rising. And I am not convinced of the quality as my cows hate it. They actually stopped eating it altogether so I had to go back to conventional grain which I’m not happy about but really have no choice.
    Upon restarting my cowshare in the new location, I will have to raise the cost to be sustainable. Thanks for giving me the assurance I am right in this conclusion.
    Thank you!

    • Charlotte Smith September 3, 2013, 4:49 pm

      Thanks so much for commenting, Jill. You bring up several struggles of raw milk producers. Keep up the hard, good work and don’t sell yourself short. Too many producers are going out of business because their afraid to increase their price to cover their costs/labor.

      Maybe I’ll meet you soon!!


  • Lori dairygirl October 30, 2014, 2:22 am

    Charlotte you are right on in everything you bring up here. It is not cheap having dairy cows! I put so much into our dairy cows and it is a must to have an emergency fund incase you do need to replace a cow(which I had to do a few years back). Just the cost of AI that I am dealing with right now to get my 6 year old Guernsey bred to a certain bull is crazy! 🙂 Anyway thanks for all you do to make raw milk look better! Lori dairygirl

  • Brian Harville February 21, 2015, 10:31 am

    Hi Charlotte,

    I just signed on and was floored by your video on raw milk pricing. You are sooo right. I am a raw milk dairyman in middle Tennessee and have been in business for over 5 years. Business is good and growing well. I do understand completely about your comments on consumers complaining about milk prices and frequently see new farmers advertising raw milk at unbelievable low prices. It almost has become a price war it a lot of ways and some of the consumers are picking up on it. Most all the raw milk producers have the same talking points for example No hormones, No antibiotics, 100% grass fed (which is a hard one for me) and so on, but NO ONE is touting milk test for SPC and coliform count but me. I am on a mission in this state to show that raw milk can be produced safely and consistently for everyone who chooses raw milk for themselves and their family. It is not about who can do it the cheapest but unfortunately we will always have that about us. I am always looking to educate some one out of the pasteurized dark into the raw milk light. I continue to try to educate myself on all the information I can find for being a responsible raw milk producer, not for just my family but certainly for all the families we help nourish. Thank you for all you do and keep up the good info. I certainly will be reading and listening.

    Thanks again
    Brian Harville
    KNB Jersey Farm
    Lebanon, TN

    • Charlotte Smith February 25, 2015, 7:38 pm

      Brian, thanks so much for writing. Sounds like you’re doing great work!!! Ya we have a hard job when we sell direct to consumer and have to educate everyone. Best of luck in Tennessee!!


  • Ralph Willmarth August 27, 2015, 7:50 pm

    We started a raw milk dairy 8 years ago with 2 Jersey cow’s. (in Colorado we do milk share},and are share was $3 a gallon we did not make it worth are time at that price, we kept the price from the farm we took it over from. The next few years we have ben increasing it, know we are at $35 a month boarding fee per share, {that comes out to $8 a gallon}, with al the farm cost we are still just getting by.

    We have 75 share go out every week, We have Jersey and holstein cow’s and I am milk 5 at this time. Good job on your videos, It is hard to get good help that will follow all your cleaning procedures, I get my milk tested every month and have great result.

    Willmarth Family Farm

  • Heidi Thieman September 29, 2015, 6:08 am

    Great bit of wisdom there. It’s true! We should price our farm products fairly for consumers but also fairly for us!

  • Kasey September 1, 2017, 2:18 am

    Hello, thanks for the advice. I did start out selling my goat milk too low, just enough to cover costs, not even enough to pay myself anything. Over the last couple of years I have increased my price incrementally until it was at a point that was no longer a drain. I talked to my customers about it before hand and they all appreciated that I was taking it up in bits, instead of all at once, to give them they ability to adjust thier budgets for it. I’m fairly young and just starting out in the grand scale. I have seven dairy goats and this year we are expanding into cows as well. I’m having a hard time figuring out how much to charge for the milk. The goats was easy enough, there are several others in my relative area that sell goat milk as well, but no one I can find in nearly 100 miles of myself sells farm fresh cow’s milk.

    Any advice?

    • Charlotte September 5, 2017, 9:39 pm

      Hi Kasey – yes, I do have help for you. Right on this website is a free course to help you with pricing, including a pricing template.

      Here’s the link to that course:

      Let me know how it goes and thanks for writing!!


  • Diane Orr June 15, 2018, 7:39 am

    Thank you for your video. We are reaping the results of not pricing out shares high enough. The stress this has caused us cannot be expressed. Need help pricing!! We already raised our prices once. Our dairy has officially been open since February 2016. Can you help?

  • Karise Lewin March 4, 2019, 11:00 am

    Hello, As a customer, this is the info I was looking for. I am a massage therapist & pricing for me goes along ther same lines. If I’m going to be able to massage long term, I also have to take care of myself and be able to afford paying my therapist what they’re worth.
    Thank you,

    • Charlotte March 4, 2019, 1:44 pm

      Hi, Karise – I’m so glad the message connected with you for your massage business, too!! You’re so right – take care of you so you can take care of others 🙂

      Thank you for being here!


  • Julius October 8, 2020, 11:40 am

    I pay $15 a gallon for raw milk and I’m not going to lie i always felt like i was being ripped off by the government. After watching the video about how much responsibilities are involved i am going to continue paying for my raw milk because it makes my 60 yr body feel good and my partner will contest to that.:)

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