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The Raw Power of Milk

Imagine owning a cow. You have done all the research, read all of the data, and have made the choice to move your family to a raw milk diet. However, you live in the city and do not have the space to house a dairy cow on your property. So, you join forces with another individual who can offer lodging and responsible caretaking for your new cow. You make the arrangements, feeling confident this is the best decision for your family. Once a week, you agree to pick up the raw milk and other raw dairy products only to realize the farm is located too far for you to make it regularly. A local farmer agrees to deliver the products to your house, including your raw milk. Because of where you live, the moment he attempts to make the first delivery, you learn both he, and you are in violation of federal law, according to the Department of Agriculture, or your own state’s regulations.

Although it may seem like the beginnings of a far-fetched alternate reality story, this is a very real problem faced by a multitude of individuals in a number of states across America. People just like you are making the decision to take care of their families in the healthiest way they know how, which includes using raw milk. However, health regulations prohibit the transportation of raw milk from a primary source. In many states, current policy requires the consumer to physically go and pick up the milk themselves.

This is one of many dilemmas Peter Kennedy is currently battling as President of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). His organization’s mission is to protect the rights of family farms trying to deliver process and unprocessed foods to consumers and he, along with other individuals, is valiantly fighting a Goliath of an enemy: government agencies, their lobbyists, and their additional outside supporters.

History Of Raw Milk Regulation

The interstate shipment of raw milk and raw milk products was banned in 1987 when the FDA mandated pasteurization of these products. Exceptions were allowed for cheese as long as it had been aged for sixty days and was labeled unpasteurized. Intrastate consumption and delivery became another issue. Each state has the right to determine their own regulations on the sale, consumption, and delivery of raw milk and raw dairy products within the confines of their own state. Guidelines vary from state to state, ranging from the authority to legally sell and deliver raw milk and its products to having no ability whatsoever to do that. Currently, there are 21 states with some sort of regulation, court decision, or policy in place that limit an individual’s ability to sell or transport raw milk or raw dairy products.

Click here to listen to Bill’s radio interview with Peter Kennedy, the president of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Current Legal Concerns

A variety of legal cases centering on this topic have been filed over the past several years. These cases, both at the federal and state levels are sparking attention to the cause of transportation and consumption of raw milk and raw milk products. In many instances, these are cases that have been brought against plaintiffs who have chosen to deliver or sell raw milk. In other situations, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund has filed suit on behalf of local organizations to protect their right to choose the type of milk they sell, transport, and deliver. Recently, the FTCLDF filed suit against the FDA for constitutional violations in banning the transportation of raw milk and raw dairy products at an interstate level.

Raw milk debates often move beyond the arena of simple commerce law and into personal realms as well though. Approximately six years ago, in the midst of a divorce case in Florida, with custody of children at stake, raw milk played a key role. Although both parents ended up with joint custody, their judge informed the father she would revoke his custody if she learned he was giving the children raw milk.

Just as with other legal topics, the reality is that future case law and precedent are established every time the court confers a decision on a case. In this instance of raw milk consumption and transportation, these precedents may extend beyond the realm of simple regulations and into the arena of personal rights, responsibilities, and choices.

Proposed Federal Legislation

Originally introduced as HR778 in a prior session of congress, a new resolution, HR 1830, was recently re-introduced by Congressman Ron Paul. This bill, which would in effect do away with any interstate ban on raw milk for human consumption, was sponsored by five other Representatives before it died in its current committee. Two outside organizations, Weston A. Price and Farm to Consumer Legal defense Fund currently support the legislation while a larger number of other organizations are one record as opposing it.

Future Education And Opportunities

Learning all facts and facets of the details surrounding the raw milk transportation regulations is critical. Cow Share College and Goat Share University offer educational tele-seminars several times a year that can help with this. Not only do these seminars provide excellent information for consumers, but they serve as opportunities to allow farms to raise capital by selling ownership in their dairy animals as well as gather significant secondary income by the boarding of their animals.

In their most recent FDA approved safety modernization act, The Food and Drug Administration now has taken increasingly larger amounts of power when it comes to regulating commerce within a state. They are taking over more control of what was once state autonomy in the name of public safety. Along with this power comes a loss of personal right to choose foods and resources you feel may be best for your family. If you want to make a difference in this process, help focus on your local communities food sources. Investigate the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund website for more information on your state regulations and other ways you can support this process.



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