Feds' Armed Raids on Milk Farmers Prompt States to Fight Back

P. Gardner Goldsmith | June 2, 2016

It sounds like an action movie.

Armed police and federal agents bust into a criminal hideout, weapons drawn, bellowing commands; bad guys scramble like eggs.

Trouble is, this scenario isn’t the stuff of movies or television. It is a case of the federal government invading private property in order to crush the voluntary sale and purchase of raw milk and food.

Since the swearing-in of President Obama, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been involved with at least sixteen raids on private raw milk/food farmers and sellers, and many critics of this repeated aggression could only post their evidence on sites such as YouTube.

But, on May 31, the Massachusetts State Senate Ways and Means Committee passed a bill that would free farm stand owners to sell raw milk, and allow more raw milk producers to sell to retailers and consumers via contractual arrangements. It is a big step for traditionally statist Massachusetts politicians, and marks another in a growing line of state legislatures that are pushing back against this stunning federal overreach.

The Obama Administration is not the first to send federal agents to harass raw milk and food sellers, but its intensely aggressive and malicious approach appears to reflect a heightened animosity towards cooperative gardens, small, non-corporate farms, alternative approaches to nutrition, and voluntary contract between consenting adults.

Three of the most mind-boggling examples of the FDA under Obama come in what could be viewed as the most unlikely places: California "hippies," Amish farmers, and a single mom raising goats.

In July of 2010, and again in 2011, the FDA and four other government agencies invaded Rawsome Foods, a private membership market in Venice, California. The crime? Was Rawsome stealing from people? Threatening to kidnap people if they did not pay them protection money on April 15th each year? Nope. Those kinds of crimes are conducted every day by other entities. Rawsome was engaged in the sinister, coercive, unpardonable practice of selling whole, unpasteurized milk products and organic foods such as honey to willing buyers.

Their reward from the bureaucrats and their armed knights? A violent invasion with weapons drawn, the arrest of the owner, the destruction and/or seizure of thousands of dollars worth of good food, thousands in legal bills, and time wasted on highly productive court appearances.

On the same day as the 2011 raid on Rawsome, over fifty federal, county and state agents stormed Health Family Farms, a Santa Paula, CA, farm run by Sharon Palmer and her three kids. As she said in an interview for Reason.TV, she had been raided twice before, once handcuffed in front of her children and customers and hauled off to the Ventura County Jail. This time, the agents entered her house as she prepared her children to go to school, “tore the house apart”, took records, and intimidated her volunteer help.

The experiences of both the Rawesome staff and Ms. Palmer are well documented, and very revealing:



But they are just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2010, Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer was arrested for selling raw milk over state lines. Two years later, he closed his business. He could no longer afford to fight the courts after US District Judge Lawrence Stengel sided with the FDA and US Justice Department, agreeing with the Justice Department that:

“Instead of ceasing his illegal operations, Mr. Allgyer attempted to evade federal regulations that prohibit the interstate sale of raw milk by creating a private membership organization that he used to enter into cow-sharing agreements with his customers.”

Ye Gods! How dare someone offer people the opportunity to get milk from a cow? The next thing we know, folks might prepare their own food, and who can predict the havoc that would result from that?

On a practical level, Dr. Joseph Mercola notes that many countries in Europe actually sport raw milk vending machines, which are climate-controlled and very clean. How is it that the US government has become more restrictive than nations across the Atlantic Ocean?

Could it be that many politicians and their appointed judges have not paid attention to the United States Constitution, which does not give the federal government the power to ban or even “regulate” food or drink?

Once upon a time, when busybodies wanted to stop people from drinking something, they passed the Twenty-First Amendment. But that process seems unimportant to the herds of bureaucrats and politicians who seem intent on not only telling us what to do, but also on receiving election cash from big corporations to stifle smaller business competition.

How can a peaceful person find legal redress from an attack by unconstitutional federal agents when many of the judges who rule on their cases are appointed by the politicians who wrote the unconstitutional laws in the first place?

And how can federal politicians and bureaucrats act as if they stand on the moral high ground when they are the ones initiating threats against peaceful people?

Earlier this year in Indiana, Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers shed light on this immoral activity by blocking federal agents from raiding and extending their harassment of raw milk producer David Hochstetler.

And with this move by the Massachusetts State Senate Ways and Means Committee, the “Commonwealth of Mass” looks to follow the footsteps of governments such as that of Arkansas, North Dakota, and Michigan, to name a few.

It is a shame that such legislative action is necessary, because the feds aren’t supposed to be involved in telling us what to eat or drink. But this new movement is a sign that, perhaps, local and state politicians are finally responding to their neighbors, and pushing back against this federal overreach.