Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., dropped a potential bomb into the ongoing battle between local food producers and federal bureaucrats who want to regulate all food transactions.
Paul introduced an amendment that would disarm Food and Drug Administration bureaucrats and accomplish several other goals.
"I'm troubled by images of armed agents raiding Amish farms and preventing them selling milk directly from the cow," he said in a Senate floor statement posted online. "I think we have bigger problems in our country than sending armed FDA agents into peaceful farmers' land and telling them they can't sell milk directly from the cow."
The amendment, he said, "would disarm the FDA and make the agency stop using guns against the American people; it would halt the FDA's armed raids on raw milk farmers; it would also stop the FDA's outrageous and longstanding censorship of truthful health claims of dietary supplements and medicinal herbs."
"This is a big deal," he said. "While it may not pass … the very fact that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has introduced such an amendment is proof positive that Rand Paul is exactly the kind of leader that can help take our nation out of the age of government tyranny and censorship and into a new era of transparency, accountability and liberty."
In fact, the amendment hours later was defeated 78-15.
The core of the conflict stems from the federal government's desire to regulate the food industry from start to finish. Local growers and producers who would like to sell their products often face enforcement actions for not having a proper packaging facility or following some other regulation. A major dispute has developed over the sale of unpasteurized milk, which many people consider more healthy. Thirty states allow it but 20 don't, and the federal government forbids it in interstate commerce.
Paul's amendment addresses those concerns.
The senator said the first provision would halt the "overzealous regulation of vitamins, food and supplements by codifying the First Amendment prohibition on prior restraint."
"The First Amendment says you can't prevent speech, even commercial speech, in advance of the speech. You can't tell Cheerios that they can't say there's a health benefit to their Cheerios. Under our current FDA laws, FDA says if you want to market prune juice, you can't say that it cures constipation," he said.
"Despite four court orders condemning the practice as a violation of the First Amendment, the FDA continues to suppress consumers' rights to be informed and to make informed choices."
See his statement to members of the Senate:
Regarding his effort to disarm the FDA, Paul said, "Historically the criminal law was intended to punish only the most horrible offenses that everyone agreed were inherently wrong or evil, offenses like rape, murder, theft, arson – but now we've basically federalized thousands of activities and called them crimes."
He continued, "If bureaucrats need to involve the police, let's have them use the FBI, but I see no reason to have the FDA carrying weapons."
He noted the Constitution cites four federal crimes, but today "it's estimated there are over 4,000, but no one has an exact number."
Paul explained the last part of his proposal would make it a requirement that defendants know and intend to break a law to obtain a conviction.
"It can't be an honest mistake where a businessman or woman has broken a regulation and didn't intend to harm someone," he said.
"We've gone too far, and we've abrogated the First Amendment, and what we need to do is tell the FDA that the courts have ruled that the First Amendment does apply to commercial speech, and the FDA has been overstepping their bounds," he said.
WND reported Monday that a business in California said government health officials have begun tracking down the names and addresses of natural-foods customers and showing up at their homes, demanding to confiscate any raw milk they might have.
The latest report is at NaturalNews.com, which interviewed Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures.
The report said Los Angeles County health department officials have "unleashed door-to-door raw milk confiscation teams to threaten and intimidate raw dairy customers into surrendering raw milk products they legally purchased and own."
"According to Mark McAfee, both L.A. County and San Diego County have attempted to acquire customer names and addresses from Organic Pastures for the sole purpose of sending 'food confiscation teams' to customers' homes to remove the raw milk from customers' refrigerators."
NaturalNews.com quoted from one of McAfee's reports:
I received a phone call yesterday morning from a wonderful young gal, a 36-year-old mom out of LA County. She's one of our UPS customers that we deliver overnight raw milk to her house. When the CDFA was in here the other day on our recall, they demanded to have all our delivery addresses for overnight UPS delivery. We screwed up and [inadvertently] gave it to them, they got it from one of our secretaries here. The LA County health department started calling her, six or seven times, demanding that she give up her raw milk from her own home to the health department.
She refused, then they showed up at her house and demanded that she give her raw milk to them. She was getting ready to call 911 for the sheriff's department and have them removed from her front doorstep, and she was threatening to use her camera to take a picture of them and post it on Facebook for harassing her over her raw milk... The investigators left after she told them she was not going to give them the raw milk and to get the hell off her property.
This is what's going on, it's like food Nazis, it's incredible what these people are doing, trying to collect food from people's houses, that have not made them ill!
Then the San Diego health department called me up and said oh we want a list of all your buyer's club members, and I said no... and they said we want all their addresses and their names, because we want to go to their homes. I said it ain't happening, we aren't going to give it to you.
Just one week earlier, mothers in Minnesota staged a protest at the trial of the manager of a farm buying club, according to the Farm Food Freedom Coalition.
The Farm Food Freedom Coalition protested the Minneapolis trial of Alvin Schlangen, a farm buying club manager. The group said that mothers in the state who act as hosts for "drop sites" for farm buying club members now have been threatened with criminal charges.
Another supporting organization, the Raw Milk Freedom Riders, said Schlangen founded the Freedom Farms Co-op, which simply connects people with the foods of their choice from local producers.
Over the past two years the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has raided Schlangen's operations several times.
Pete Kennedy of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, who tracks such issues nationally, said, "Nowhere in the country at this time is state action against food freedom and consumer choice more oppressive than in the state of Minnesota."
The FDA said there have been reports of illnesses from raw milk, but a report from the Weston A. Price Foundation revealed that from 1980 to 2005 there were 10 times more illnesses from pasteurized milk than from raw milk.
In California, three people are facing trial following an investigation of the Rawesome buying club. In that case, one of the defense lawyers was stunned by the militancy of the prosecutor, declaring, "She doesn't want raw milk. … She wants blood."
The federal government has a long history of cracking down on producers of raw milk who make it available to consumers – even when the consumers are the ones who own the cows and milk.
In the recent case in Wisconsin, a judge ruled that Americans do not have a right to choose their food, not even when they own the cows and the milk.
"As more consumers seek greater access to local farm fresh milk to feed their families, our federal government is working overtime to curtail freedom to feed your family the way you deem necessary. Since most seek raw dairy for health reasons, this is a serious concern," she said.
A ruling from Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Fiedler in Wisconsin said the families who reported they were boarding their cows for a fee and then getting the milk instead were running a "dairy farm."
"It's always a surprise when a judge says you don't have the fundamental right to consume the foods of your choice," said Kennedy.
Fiedler's decision said: "Plaintiffs argue that they have a fundamental right to possess, use and enjoy their property and therefore have a fundamental right to own a cow, or a heard (sic) of cows, and to use their cow(s) in a manner that does not cause harm to third parties. They argue that they have a fundamental right to privacy to consume the food of their choice for themselves and their families and therefore have a fundamental right to consume unpasteurized milk from their cows," the judge wrote.
Nonsense, he said.
"They do not simply own a cow that they board at a farm. Instead, plaintiffs operate a dairy farm. If plaintiffs want to continue to operate their dairy farm then they must do so in a way that complies with the laws of Wisconsin."
He continued, "The court denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, which means the following:
"(1) no, plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a diary (sic) herd;
"(2) no, plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;
"(3) no, plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;
"(4) no, the Zinniker plaintiffs' private contract does not fall outside the scope of the state's police power;
"(5) no, plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice; and
"(6) no, the DATCP did not act in an ultra vires manner because it had jurisdiction to regulate the Zinniker plaintiffs' conduct."
In proposing the plan, Paul said there were 40 different federal agencies that have armed officers, and he was recognizing an issue on which WND has reported in the past. In fact, some 15 years ago, WND documented how a commando-style raid by "20 heavily armed federal agents and local sheriff's deputies" involved employees of the National Park Service.
Even then, there were an estimated 60,000 federal agents trained and authorized to enforce thousands of laws, and that was long before the development of the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Secuirty.
The report said among the agencies with armed employees are the Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, Ag Department's U.S. Forest Service, the Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service Staff Office for Law Enforcement, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, State Department, Treasury Department, EPA, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, General Services Administration, NASA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, and others.