The surprise interrogations took place after work in their private homes on the evening of March 19, just hours after Judge Tobias of the Hollister Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order against the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The state court ruling blocked enforcement of California‘s anti-raw milk AB 1735, which mandates unnecessarily stringent standards for beneficial coliform bacteria in raw milk. The temporary restraining order represents an important legal victory for raw milk producers and consumers in California and throughout the nation.
The FDA Interrogation
The federal agents threatened one employee with arrest if questions were not fully and truthfully answered about Organic Pastures‘ order fulfillment practices. Her answers reflected information that is readily available at the company‘s Web site, www.organicpastures.com.
The other employee was told FDA would "make it worth her while" to "wear a wire" and record conversations with Organic Pastures president Mark McAfee. The employee refused the offer. "We are like a family, I would never do that to a family member," she said, reflecting her close relationship with the McAfee family.
Both employees were served subpoenas to appear April 3 for a secret grand jury investigation. In 2003, Organic Pastures received a confirmation letter from Larry Childers of the FDA, which clearly stated that interstate sales of raw colostrum are not regulated because colostrum is not milk. The FDA Web site notes that "pet food" requires no pre-market approval and is unregulated by the FDA.
The Bronx Zoo in New York and other zoos regularly order raw colostrum and raw dairy products from Organic Pastures to save babies of endangered species and keep other animals healthy. Orders stipulate that the milk and colostrum must be raw because pasteurized versions make them ill. Many veterinarians recommend raw milk for cats and dogs.
"FDA has gone on the record as ‘hating raw milk‘ in any form," says Mark McAfee, founder and president of Organic Pastures. "The harassment of our employees and grand jury investigation is just the latest round in the government vendetta against nature‘s perfect food. If Organic Pastures is doing something illegal, all FDA needs to do is come and tell us and we will make the necessary changes to our labels and procedures."
Organic Pastures will be represented in this action by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Membership in the Fund helps support the defense of raw milk and direct farm-to-consumer sales. For further information visit www.ftcldf.org. First there was the “raid” in Kentucky where eight FDA agents, along with four Cincinnati police officers, stopped the truck of a Kentucky farmer and began confiscating bottles of raw milk.
The lawmen tried to force the farmer into a "confession," but the farmer merely stated what he offered to his shareholders and that the milk wasn't pasteurized.
Now the FDA is bullying employees of Organic Pastures as though they are trying to sell street drugs.
In one sense, it's laughable that FDA agents are suggesting the employees of an organic dairy “wear a wire” or take bribes to expose the workings of the farm. It is also so very sad that they are having to defend themselves to their own government for producing and selling a natural, health-promoting food.
This is a blatant example of inexcusable government intrusion on the freedom of choice of American consumers. You see, the word about raw milk, and the fact that it is not only safe but also healthy, is getting out. And this makes the FDA very nervous.
These heavy-handed attempts by the government to regulate this natural food source are ridiculous, but don’t expect them to stop anytime soon. In fact, I would expect them to get much worse before things get better.
New to the Raw Milk Camp?
For those of you who are just learning about raw milk, please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the reasons why pasteurized milk is far inferior to raw milk.
To summarize the issue briefly, pasteurized milk is damaged goods. It has been heated to the point where its once-beneficial properties have changed into compounds that promote allergies, digestive upset and even autism and diabetes.
On the contrary, raw, grass-fed milk is full of things that your body will thrive on: good bacteria, raw fat, cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and much more. It is not uncommon for people who drink raw milk to report that many health issues -- from allergies to digestive trouble to skin issues like eczema -- clear up.
But don’t just take my word for it. If you are still on the fence, talk to people in your area who drink raw milk and eat raw dairy products. I assure you there are more raw-milk drinkers around than you may think. You can locate a raw milk source near you at the Campaign for Real Milk Web site.
What Can You do to Help Freedom of Choice?
Mostly, you can help to spread the word, to your friends, family and entire social circle, that raw milk is being unfairly demonized. If you are in the United States, you can also share your opinion about raw milk with:
- Your Representatives
- Your Senators
- The President: email@example.com
- The Vice President: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel strongly about your right to purchase and drink raw milk, then please do get involved, and voice your opinion to as many of these groups as you can. Together we can make a difference!