Under current Illinois law, farmers can sell an unlimited amount of raw milk on the farm without a permit. Legislators and health officials were working hard to completely banish farm-to-consumer agreements in some sneaky ways. This was not lost on Illinois' thriving raw milk market. Now, a proposed bill in Illinois banning the sale and distribution of natural or “raw” milk, has come to a screeching halt this session after legislators heard from thousands of natural milk supporters.
Fresh raw milk is currently the only food banned in interstate commerce. And while the constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, the current ban in place was not put there by an act of Congress, but by the FDA, preventing states where the sale of raw milk is legal from being able to transport and sell that milk in other states (where it is also legal). This action by the FDA is usually cloaked in the deception that it is for the sake of public health, however statistics clearly show that raw milk is no more dangerous than any other raw food, and in most cases is probably safer when sold by organic grass-fed small-scale operations. The sale of raw milk in the United States is first and foremost an economical issue, and deals with the rights of dairy farmers to be able to sell their products directly to consumers, bypassing the milk pools of Big Dairy, who enjoy tremendous political favor via farm subsidies. The ban on interstate commerce of raw milk and raw milk products is simply an attempt by Big Dairy to prevent consumers from having a choice between their highly processed commodity dairy products and fresh wholesome products produced by small-scale farmers. Congressman Massie (R–KY), Chellie Pingree (D–ME) and a bipartisan coalition of 18 other lawmakers have introduced legislation to improve consumer food choices and to protect local farmers from federal interference. The two bills – the “Milk Freedom of Act of 2014” and the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014” – are the first in a series of “food freedom” bills that Rep. Massie plans to introduce this year. These bills would make it easier for families to buy wholesome milk directly from farmers by reversing the criminalization of dairy farmers who offer raw milk. Encourage your representatives to support this bipartisan legislation!
The Oregon Department of Agriculture today agreed to stop enforcing that state’s ban on the advertisement of raw—or unpasteurized—milk. This comes in response to a Nov. 2013 federal lawsuit filed by Christine Anderson, owner of Cast Iron Farms in McMinnville, Ore. Until today, it was illegal for farmers like Christine to advertise that they sell raw milk, a perfectly legal product. This meant that Christine was banned from posting flyers at local stores, advertising sales online or via email, or displaying a roadside sign at the farm saying “WE SELL RAW MILK.” Christine was even ordered in 2012 to take down prices for her milk from the Cast Iron Farm website. If she did advertise her raw milk, she faced $6,250 in fines and civil penalties as high as $10,000—plus a year in jail.
This Country Has America Beat When It Comes to Handling Raw Milk - Illegal in many states, unpasteurized dairy is sold out of vending machines in Slovenia.
300 people turned out for a board of health hearing in Foxboro to support the Lawton Family Raw Milk farm which was being threatened with new regulations that would have put them out of business. Their farm spans 11 generations back to the 1700s, and town support for them was strong. In the end, the board of health backed down. One board member complained they had received: “Horrible emails, mean-spirited. Some very negative voice mails were left. It was uncalled for. We have been referred to as Gestapo. That being said, if you want to drink raw milk, have at it. If you want to sky dive, go ahead.”
Support for Lawton’s Raw Milk Family Farm Forces Delay in Board of Health Public Hearing to Shut Them Down
The town of Foxborough Massachusetts is proposing new stricter raw milk regulations which would put The Lawtons Family Farm out of business. The farm has spanned 11 generations dating back to the 1700s. But at a Board of Health public hearing, so many people turned out to support the Lawtons, that the hearing had to be postponed until they could find a larger venue. The regular meeting room only holds 80 people, and more than 140 showed up, most of them to show support for the raw milk farmers.
An Oregon raw milk farmer is fighting back against Big Dairy and the state of Oregon for limiting her free speech. The state of Oregon allows limited sales of raw milk from the farm. Based on a law passed in 1999, if a farmer has 3 or less dairy cows, with no more than two lactating, they can sell raw milk directly to the public. Yet, in spite of these tight restrictions, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association pushed for even more restrictions last year. So while it is still currently legal to sell raw milk from a 2-cow dairy farm, it is a criminal offense if you advertise your product. If a raw milk dairy farm even publishes the cost of their product online, they can face a year in jail and $6,250 in fines. All Oregon farmers who sell milk on the farm directly to consumers are prohibited from advertising the milk online, in fliers, via email or on signs. Being faced with the possibility of going out of business, Christina decided to fight back, with the help of the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm based out of Alrington Virginia. This week they filed a suit against the Oregon Department of Agriculture in U.S. District Court in Portland, claiming farmers' Constitutional rights to free speech are being violated.
In this N.Y. Times opinion piece, dairy farm life and the consumption of raw dairy milk is clearly shown to be associated with reduced allergies. But raw milk consumption is discouraged nevertheless, and people are encouraged instead to wait for new drugs which will mimic the same effect.
Based on their vehement warnings to the public, as well as their raids on small farms, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) want you to believe that raw milk is unsafe. And if you listen to them, you would come away believing that raw milk is a filthy, disease-causing beverage that is virtually guaranteed to make you and your family sick… Yet, this very same ingredient – raw milk – is used to make some of the world’s finest cheeses, from the Italian Parmigiano Reggiano to the famous French-made Camembert. The traditional cheese-making process has been crafted over centuries in many cases, and is truly an art form, with each cheese carefully aged and ripened to develop a complex taste and texture that mass-produced cheeses cannot replicate – thanks, in large part, to their raw milk content.
When the United States was founded in the 1700s, about 90% of the U.S. population was employed in agriculture. By the time of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln served as President of the United States, about 50% of the population was employed in agriculture. Today, less than 1% of our population is employed in agriculture, and most of the food sold in the U.S., and even around the world, is controlled by just a handful of companies. Who controls the food supply in the U.S. today, and how did they come to be so powerful? Unfortunately, we are blaming everyone and everything for the poor quality of our food today, except for the ones who have actually caused this to happen. Unless we understand the true cause of the problem, and the real solutions, nothing will change.