Full list: Milk News
By Randy Shore
VANCOUVER — Raw milk activist Gordon Watson has filed a civil lawsuit against the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities and their officers, alleging they exceeded their power by acting to shut down the Home on the Range dairy in Chilliwack, B.C.
“The main thing is to make civil servants accountable,” said Watson, a founder of the dairy, now operating as Our Cows.
He alleges in the suit filed this week that the health authorities acted against the dairy with no evidence that it was a threat to public health, destroyed his property (the milk) and acted beyond their authority.
In Canada, it is illegal to market, sell, distribute or deliver unpasteurized milk, cream or cheese. But it is legal for farmers and their immediate families to consume it.
Watson maintains that because the products of the dairy are not offered for sale to the public, public health statutes do not apply.
The raw milk dairy is a co-operative farm that produces unpasteurized milk and dairy products for the families that own shares in the cow herd. Watson argues that cow-share members are the owners of the herd and can legally use the products.
Roy Thorpe-Dorward said Fraser Health served the dairy’s operators with a cease-and-desist order, ordering it to stop producing and distributing raw milk products and alleging the operators were violating health-hazard regulations of the provincial health act.
By Kevin Miller
BLUE HILL, Maine — Small-scale farmers and Mainers who buy directly from them held a boisterous rally Friday to support a Hancock County man sparring with agriculture officials over his right to sell “raw milk” and other products from his farm without a license.
Farmer Dan Brown admitted to the crowd of 150-plus people gathered outside Blue Hill’s Town Hall Friday that he has become a reluctant spokesman for his side in the potential legal fight emerging over Maine’s vibrant “local foods” movement.
“I would like to be nowhere else than on my farm,” said Brown, clearly uncomfortable in front of a large group and a microphone.
But Brown has, indeed, become the public face in a court case that could test the legality of a “local food” ordinance that seeks to exempt him and other farmers from state or federal inspections and licensing.
“Who is Farmer Brown?” shouted one rally attendee.
“We are all Farmer Brown,” came the response from the crowd.
Brown, who runs Gravelwood Farm in Blue Hill, received notice earlier this month that the Maine Department of Agriculture has filed a lawsuit to stop him from selling raw or unpasteurized milk without a license.
State agriculture officials maintain that licensing of raw milk distributors is necessary to protect the public, given the potential for harmful bacteria in unpasteurized milk. A sample of milk from Brown’s farm tested by the state was found to have bacteria levels well above the legal limit.
To those gathered in Blue Hill on Friday, however, the lawsuit filed against Brown by Whitcomb’s department is an attack on consumers’ rights and on the towns that have adopted “food sovereignty” ordinances.
“We have asserted the right to choose what food we eat and feed our families,” said Heather Retberg, a Penobscot farmer who sells raw milk.
Retberg said she and other farmers are simply serving friends and neighbors who would rather purchase their milk, produce or meat from a farm down the road owned by a person they trust.
Five Maine towns — Blue Hill, Penobscot, Sedgwick, Trenton and Hope — have adopted ordinances declaring that farmers who sell to consumers directly for home consumption are not subject to inspection or licensing by state or federal regulators.
Maine agriculture officials disagree, saying the state and federal health safety laws preempt local ordinances. During an interview on Wednesday, Whitcomb said the lawsuit against Brown was not intended to test those towns’ policies, although he acknowledged the issues are one and the same among some who support the local ordinances.
Blue Hill’s Board of Selectmen met Friday during the rally and voted to send Whitcomb a letter asking the department to drop the charges against Brown and to respect the town’s local food ordinance.
Brown has 20 days from the time he was served with the lawsuit to file a written response. He said this week he was waiting to hear whether organizations involved in local control issues in the agriculture industry would help with his defense.
November 4, 2011
By Brandon Cooper
Capital News Service
SILVER SPRING—A group of Maryland moms served raw milk and cookies in front of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters on Tuesday, urging the agency to drop its longstanding ban on selling unpasteurized milk across state lines.
The group of about 15 mothers and other supporters—calling themselves the “Raw Milk Freedom Riders”—purchased raw milk from a Pennsylvania farm and caravanned to Silver Spring to protest the ban.
The mothers were protesting a 1987 regulation issued by the FDA that prohibits the transportation of raw milk across state lines in order to sell it.
But raw milk tastes better than pasteurized milk and has health benefits for children, said Liz Reitzig, a mother and co-founder of the Farm Food Freedom Coalition, which sponsored the protest.
“The [FDA] is undermining our authority as parents,” she said.
While the interstate sale of raw milk is illegal, the sale of it within each state varies. According to the FDA, 20 states prohibit raw milk sales, while 30 allow it in some form. The sale of raw milk is legal in Pennsylvania, but not in Maryland.
At FDA headquarters on Tuesday, protesters welcomed the caravan with chants like “Hey, hey, FDA! Raw milk is here to stay!”
As police looked on, protesters maintained that transporting milk from Pennsylvania to Maryland and serving it for free was illegal. They held signs that said, “I drink raw milk. Arrest me!”
An FDA spokesperson said the agency defines “interstate commerce” to include both the sale of raw milk and giving it away for free. But there were no arrests made Tuesday.
The protesters gathered around Sally Fallon Morell, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition organization, who spoke about the importance of raw milk was to children’s health.
“Our children need this milk,” Fallon Morell said. “We can’t go on with another generation eating industrial foods.”
Joel Salatin, a leading advocate of sustainable farming and the owner of Virginia’s Polyface Farms, told protesters that individuals—not the government—should be able to choose to drink raw milk.
By Maria Godoy
Food fresh from the farm is undeniably appealing. Raw milk enthusiasts take it one step further: They like their milk fresh from the cow — skipping pasteurization.
But it’s illegal to sell raw milk in stores in most U.S. states, and fans have been known to go to great lengths to buy dairy in its purest form. Last year, we told you about one Maryland mom who regularly drives almost two hours to a farm in Pennsylvania to buy unpasteurized milk for her family — paying $5 to $7 per gallon.
In a handful of states that ban raw dairy sales for human consumption, however, it seems some aficionados are taking advantage of a legal loophole: It’s perfectly legit to buy it as pet food.
That appears to be the case in Florida, where about a dozen new farmssigned up to sell raw milk as “commercial feed” in the past year, bringing the total number of registered farms to 46, according to the Sun Sentinel. Of course, it’s impossible to know how much of this “pet milk” is getting slurped up by Fido or by his masters. But “state officials acknowledge that there’s an underground supply chain” for human consumption, the paper reports.
In fact, labeling raw milk as pet food is one of several known “moo-nshine” strategies employed by farmers looking to circumvent state and federal legal bans. “FDA is aware of reports like those in the Florida Sun Sentinel,” FDA spokesperson Stephanie Yao tells The Salt.
Such subterfuge is necessary in a “dysfunctional” legal landscape, argues Pete Kennedy, the president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which represents some 2,000 individual farmers across the U.S. who sell raw milk, and some 3,000 members of raw milk-buying clubs.
“The consumption of raw milk is legal in every state in the country,” Kennedy says. “But you have 20 states where the sale is illegal. So you have this right with some people unable to exercise it.”
But advocates for raw milk say it’s worth the risk. It has a creamier, more complex flavor than the pasteurized variety. They say pasteurization — in which milk is heated to 161 degrees Fahrenheit to kill microbes — also kills vital nutrients, a claim the FDA dismisses.
It’s up to individual states to decide how raw milk is sold within their boundaries, and 30 of them allow it in some form, according to a recent survey by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
A GROUP of artisan foodmakers are at odds with the government’s food safety body over plans to ban the sale of unpasteurised ‘raw’ milk – rejecting claims that the ban is a logical move to reduce health risks.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has recommended that the government restore an outright ban on the sale of such milk, which had been originally introduced in the mid 1990s but overturned by a European directive in 2007.
Opponents of the proposed ban – including some of Ireland’s best-known restaurateurs - believe there is no reason for the ban, arguing that the government should instead try to educate people on how to avoid some of the potential health risks posed.
“The primary reason why we don’t think the ban should go ahead involves choice,” said Elisabeth Ryan, of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in Co Meath, who is leading a campaign urging the government not to ban the sale of raw milk.
“We think people are educated enough and clever enough to be able to read – we’re not saving raw milk should be sold from every single farmer around Ireland! Our suggestion is that small dairy farmers, who have regulations on them, be allowed to sell raw milk – and people be allowed to buy it.”
Ryan explained that the largest consumers of raw milk are farming families who drink the produce of their own dairy herds – and that statistics from the time the original ban was introduced showed suggested that as many as 100,000 Irish families drank raw milk.
By Gosia Wozniacka
PANOCHE VALLEY, Calif. — On a stretch of California grassland, workers milk 70 Jersey cows and bottle several hundred gallons of milk into quart glass bottles topped with bright yellow caps — without heating the milk to pasteurize it.
Claravale Farm, two hours west of Fresno, has been producing milk with minimal interference between the udder and the customer for about 80 years. It’s one of two licensed raw milk dairies in California, which allows the retail sale of milk that has not been heated to 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds.
But even as consumers line up at farmers markets and specialty stores to buy raw milk, pressure on the producers has intensified in California and around the country.
“People have been drinking raw milk for thousands of years around the world,” Claravale’s co-owner, Ron Garthwaite, said. “But recently, raw milk has become a biohazard.”
Five other states — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Vermont and South Dakota — have adopted stricter standards to regulate the amount of bacteria in unprocessed milk in the past three years, according to the Raw Milk Survey released last month by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
And states have cracked down on small unlicensed farmers selling raw milk to friends and neighbors. Three people were arrested in California last week for allegedly producing and selling raw milk without a license. They ran a herd share, in which several people split ownership because an animal’s owner can legally drink its raw milk without state inspections.
Federal law prohibits the sale of raw milk from state to state but allows states to regulate its sale within their borders. Arkansas and Mississippi allow the sale of raw goat milk directly on the farm where the milk is produced; Tennessee does not permit any sales of raw milk.
Thirty states allow some sort of raw milk sales: 13 restrict sales to the farm, 12 allow for retail sales and the other five have a combination of regulations.
Raw milk enthusiasts say pasteurization — the process of heating milk to kill disease-causing bacteria — kills bacteria beneficial to human health and argue that unprocessed milk is fresher, full of nutrients and tastier.
The Associated Press
08/04/2011 07:08:37 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES—A raid on a health food store and its raw dairy products sparked a protest outside a Los Angeles courthouse Thursday where the market’s owner was arraigned on charges of selling unlicensed, unpasteurized milk.
His arraignment came a day after he, along with Ventura County farmer Sharon Palmer and her employee Eugenie Bloch, were arrested on charges of producing unlicensed, unpasteurized goat milk products.
Volunteers at Stewart’s Rawesome market in Venice said investigators also raided the store, dumping all dairy products and seizing cash from the register.
Prosecutors said Rawesome has been selling food to the public for six years without permits. Supporters said the market is really a members-only club specializing in raw foods and they accuse the government of an unjustified crackdown on raw milk.
At the protest, they held signs that said “Um Hello?! It’s Milk!” and yelled, “Hey, hey, FDA, don’t take our milk away.”
Unpasteurized milk is legal in California but it’s regulated to meet health standards.
Raw Milk Risk Extremely Small Compared to Risk of Other Foods
WASHINGTON, DC June 22, 2011: Data gleaned from U.S. government websites and government-sanctioned reports on foodborne illnesses show that the risk of contracting foodborne illness by consuming raw milk is much smaller than the risk of becoming ill from other foods, according to research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, appearing in the Summer, 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis, says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.
The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity. For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.
In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness
attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010. During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year.
Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk, says Fallon Morell. And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further. It is irresponsible for senior national government officials to oppose raw milk, claiming that it is inherently hazardous, says Dr. Beals. There is no justification for opposing the sale of raw milk or warning against its inclusion in the diets of children and adults.
According to Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, FDA has an agenda that has nothing to do with protecting the public health. The agency wants to deny freedom of choice and impose its views on what foods the people should and should not be consuming.
Every time there is a possible connection between illness and raw milk, government officials issue dire press releases and call for bans on raw milk sales, says Fallon Morell. However these numbers make a laughing stock of government opposition and prove what weve known all along, that raw milk is a safe and healthy food.
Sally Fallon Morell debates Bill Marler on the safety of raw milk with Kojo Nnamdi. Listen here!