Agent wielding handgun in California milk-shop raid in image from Los Angeles Times video
The developing dispute over the sale of raw milk in the United States has seen a farmer fined $4,000, a predawn raid prompted by the “dangers” of the product and even a comment from a government official that, “You have cows. You produce food for human consumption” as a reason for an inspection of private property.
Now supplies of raw milk and other products have been confiscated from a farm and a distribution point in California for alleged violations of a long list of various government rules, such as permit requirements.
But the ultimate solution to the enforcement of a patchwork of permits, licenses and regulations across the nation probably will be a court ruling in a case brought by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, according to a spokesman.
The case argues, contrary to allegations by the FDA, that everyone has the right to travel across state lines with raw dairy products in their possession, that everyone has the right to consume the foods of their choice, that parents have the right to feed their children the foods of their choice and that all have the right to be responsible for their own health.
“We believe we are breaking new ground in this case,” Gary Cox, the fund’s general counsel, told WND earlier. “Yet in a way, we are really asking the court to expressly recognize what our Founding Fathers implied in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.”
The organization brought the lawsuit earlier this year to overturn the federal ban that prohibits raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce. The lawsuit alleges the federal rules on the issue are unconstitutional and outside the FDA’s statutory authority as applied to members of the group.
The government responded by asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit out of hand, and the case at this point awaits the judge’s decision on the motion.
In one of the latest battles, investigators entered Rawsome Foods in Venice, Calif., to track down jugs of raw milk in a walk-in cooler. Also taken at the same time – while a raid also was going on at a nearby farm, one of Rawsome’s suppliers – were blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese, according to published reports.
Kennedy told WND the latest raids highlight the need for a resolution in the challenge his organization is raising to the laws, rules and regulations with which producers and consumers must cope.
According to a Los Angeles Times report on the Venice case, California and 10 other states allow “licensed” dairies to sell raw milk, and another 20 states let people buy such products from farms or participate in a cooperative program.
The newspaper’s video showed officers entering what appears to be a supply room with their guns drawn.
Other states have other varying rules.
“There are just so many rules and regulations, and [they are] so overbroad,” Kennedy told WND. “The bureaucracy claims they cover these private contractual arrangements. We need some court rulings.”
He said one recent case – although it was in Canada – found the government should not interfere with private transactions between a farmer and a consumer. But recent raids in Minnesota and in Venice prove that such feelings, if they exist in the U.S., still haven’t the weight of regulations.
“The only victims really are people who lose their health [if they lose access to natural foods],” he said.
Farm-to-Consumer officials earlier told WND a decision in their lawsuit “will either ensure that people have fundamental rights endowed to them by their Creator, or that the people have no rights except those that are conferred upon them by government.”
“Our research shows that this nation has a long history of consuming raw dairy products and that FDA’s prohibition against taking raw dairy for human consumption across state lines runs counter to that national history,” Kennedy added.
One plaintiff in that case is Georgia resident Eric Wagoner, who was ordered by an FDA employee in a confrontation just months ago to dump out milk obtained in South Carolina and brought to him in Georgia.
More than 100 gallons of milk soaked into the Georgia dirt:
More of the episode was caught here:
In the Venice case, publicized by the Times, government agents entered the store with a search warrant and took products they considered suspect.
“I still can’t believe they took our yogurt,” Rawsome volunteer Sea J. Jones told the newspaper. “There’s a medical-marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they’re raiding us because we’re selling raw dairy products?”
The essence of the conflict is between regulators who say they have a responsibility to “protect” the public from dangerous complications possible from using raw milk and consumers who find their health better when they use unpasteurized products instead of those run through heat or chemical treatments.
In the Rawsome case, while it is legal for licensed dairies in California to sell raw milk, regulators said the organization failed to have proper permits and licenses. Agents from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others confiscated 17 coolers with honey, milk, cane syrup and other products.
According to a report on the Axis of Logic, a volunteer-run news and opinion site, the Rawsome raid was accompanied by one involving 20 agents at Sharon Palmer’s farm in Ventura County.
But the report noted the raids “appear to be happening ever more frequently.”
It noted early in June, Minnesota enforcers shut down a “traditional foods” warehouse in the state.
Wisconsin also has launched three raids over the past few weeks, and there was one case in which a farmer was prosecuted for refusing to give authorities information about his customers.
In response to the raw-milk lawsuit, the government’s motion to dismiss claimed Americans have no fundamental right to choose what food they can have.
“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds,” stated the document signed by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose, assistant Martha Fagg and Roger Gural, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish,” the government has argued.
The lawsuit focuses on a set of FDA regulations that largely bans consumers from buying raw milk and taking it across state lines, even for their own consumption, and the decision is expected to set a precedent for further evaluations of the process.
WND has reported several times on fed crackdowns on producers of raw milk for friends and neighbors, including the recent case in which agents arrived to inspect a private property belonging to Dan Allgyer in Pennsylvania at 5 a.m.
The incident was followed by a report a few days later of a proposal in Congress that critics say would do for the nation’s food supply what the new health-care-reform law has done for health-care resources.
“S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the U.S.,” asserted Steve Green on the Food Freedom blog. “It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.”
The plan is sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who explains the legislation “is a critical step toward equipping the FDA with the authorities and funding it needs to regulate what is now a global marketplace for food, drugs, devices and cosmetics.”
His website explains, “The legislation requires foreign and domestic food facilities to have safety plans in place to prevent food hazards before they occur, increases the frequency of inspections. Additionally, it provides strong, flexible enforcement tools, including mandatory recall.”
The proposal cleared the U.S. House last year but has been languishing in the Senate because of a full calendar of legislation. It creates a long list of new requirements for food-producing entities to meet the demands of the secretary of agriculture.