Brian Doherty | April 29, 2011
Warning: Aggravating bullshit ahead, as reported in the Washington Times:
A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.
The product in question: unpasteurized milk….
Why? Why Why Why? The Food and Drug Administration has some very strong feelings on the matter:
“It is the FDA’s position that raw milk should never be consumed,” said Tamara N. Ward, spokeswoman for the FDA, whose investigators have been looking into Rainbow Acres for months, and who finally last week filed a 10-page complaint in federal court in Pennsylvania seeking an order to stop the farm from shipping across state lines any more raw milk or dairy products made from it.
The farm’s owner, Dan Allgyer, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment, but his customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland were furious at what they said was government overreach…..
Raw-milk devotees say pasteurization, the process of heating food to kill harmful organisms, eliminates good bacteria as well, and changes the taste and health benefits of the milk. Many raw-milk drinkers say they feel much healthier after changing over to it, and insist they should have the freedom of choice regarding their food.
One defense group says there are as many as 10 million raw-milk consumers in the country. Sales are perfectly legal in 10 states but illegal in 11 states and the District, with the other states having varying restrictions on purchase or consumption…..
The Obama administration is totally and completely serious about budget sense in these trying times. Believe it! But here is where your tax dollars that they need so many more of are going:
According to the complaint the FDA filed in court, the agency began to look into Mr. Allgyer’s farm in late 2009, when an investigator in their Baltimore office used aliases to sign up for a Yahoo user group for Rainbow Acres’ customers, and began to place orders under the assumed names for unpasteurized milk.
The orders were delivered to private residences in Maryland, where the investigator, whose name was not disclosed in the documents, would pick them up. By crossing state lines the milk became part of interstate commerce, thus subject to the FDA’s ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The court papers note that the jugs of milk were not labeled – another violation of FDA regulations.
Armed with that information, investigators visited the farm in February 2010, but Mr. Allgyer turned them away. They returned two months later with a warrant, U.S. marshals and a state police trooper, arriving at 5 a.m. for what Mr. Allgyer’s backers called a “raid,” but the FDA said was a lawful inspection.
The investigators said they saw coolers labeled with Maryland town names, and the coolers appeared to contain dairy products. The inspection led to an April 20, 2010, letter from FDA telling Mr. Allgyer to stop selling across state lines.
He instead formed a club and had customers sign an agreement stating they supported his operation, weren’t trying to entrap the owners, and that they would be shareholders in the farm’s produce, paying only for the farmer’s labor.
Customers hoped that would get around the FDA’s definition of “commerce,” putting the exchange outside of the federal government’s purview.
The FDA investigators continued to take shipments, though, and last week went to court to stop the operation.
Nothing is outside their purview, alas, those damn dairy racket-busters. Reason magazine has lamented the death of the Commerce Clause in the past, and I guess we’ll have to keep doing that.
Baylen Linnekin fights for food freedom.