"If we are not even free anymore to decide something as basic as what we wish to eat or drink, how much freedom do we really have left?"
Paul was talking about the FDA ban on the interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption — milk that has not been pasteurized. The ban began in 1987, but the FDA didn't really begin enforcing it seriously until 2006 -- when the government began sting operations and armed raids of dairy farmers and their willing customers.
The New American reports:
"Even if the FDA were correct in its assertions about the dangers of raw milk, its prohibition on interstate raw milk sales would still be, as Paul termed it, 'an unconstitutional misapplication of the commerce clause for legislative ends' ...
Saying he is 'outraged' by the FDA's raids on peaceful dairy farmers and their customers, Paul has introduced legislation ... 'to allow the shipment and distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption across state lines,' in effect reversing the FDA's unconstitutional ban on such sales."
The "Food Safety Modernization Act" that was enacted earlier this year gives the FDA almost unlimited authority to decide if food is harmful, even without credible evidence. But farmers who have been persecuted by the FDA for selling raw milk, like Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer, are not backing down. Allgyer's case is going to court.
Citizens are irate that the FDA allows damaging junk food, but prevents people from making an educated, informed food choice in purchasing raw grass-fed milk.
According to the Washington Times, Attorney Jonathan Emord, who has defeated the FDA in court eight times, is focusing on the deeper issues that this case stems from. Emord says:
"We would not be here today were it not for the fact that over the past seventy-five years, the Congress of the United States has delegated away to some 230 independent regulatory commissions the power to make law, the power to execute the law, and the power to judge law violation. That delegation of governing power from Congress to the unelected heads of the regulatory agencies violates the Constitution, which vests exclusively in Congress the obligation to make law".
The war on raw milk, which is really an unconstitutional assault on one of your most basic rights, i.e. your right to choose what you want to eat and drink, is now in full swing and will likely intensify in the days ahead.
Amish Farmer Raided at Gun Point
Dan Allgyer, an Amish farmer, was recently caught in an FDA sting operation, after the agency planted a spy in local buying club he supplies, "Grassfed On The Hill", back in October of 2009 to gather evidence against him. His farm was raided at gun point, and eventually the Department of Justice, at the behest of FDA, filed suit in Federal District Court to obtain an injunction prohibiting Allgyer from transporting and selling raw milk across state lines.
This isn't the first time the FDA has spent US tax dollars to violently clamp down on "illegal interstate commerce," by raw milk farmers, all under the guise of doing their job and protecting the public's health…
Any level-headed person would argue that this is a poorly shrouded sham, seeing how the FDA has continuously allowed known toxins into the food supply, and those who willingly choose to harm their health are free to do so by consuming too much sugar, artificial non-food-based items, alcohol, and toxic cigarettes.
Logic notwithstanding, food safety chief and former Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor recently defended the FDA's spying and gun-toting tactics against raw milk producers, stating that they're simply doing their job, calling the campaign "a public health duty" based on "statutory directive." And it may actually get worse than it already is, if we don't stop it. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle explains:
"The FDA is in the midst of writing the critical regulations that will implement the Food Safety Modernization Act Congress passed last year with applause all around from the Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans despite ferocious opposition from small-farm advocates. The sweeping new law gives the agency extraordinary powers to detain foods on farms. It also denies farmers recourse to federal courts.
On July 3, the agency will issue its new rule to detain any food it believes is unsafe, or, more critically, "mislabeled." In Allgyer's case, the entire FDA case rests on a technical violation of a ban on interstate commerce in raw milk and alleged mislabeling.
Before the new law, the FDA could only impound food when it had credible evidence the food was contaminated or posed a public health hazard. The detention powers are part of what Taylor described as a new agency focus on preventing food poisoning outbreaks rather than responding to them after the fact. Taylor described the new law as giving the agency "farm to table" control over food safety."
Taylor also stated that he will seek a "high rate of compliance" with the new rules. Compliance will be made all the more "effective" once the FDA gets its new and improved tool kit of enforcement, which will include:
- Access to farm records
- Mandatory recall authority
- New administrative enforcement actions
- Ability to revoke a farm's mandatory registration (which will be a new requirement under the law)
Support Bill to Legalize Your Right to Choose!
Allgyer taking on the FDA in court is a classic case of David vs. Goliath. At stake is the issue of consumer choice and food freedom — something most people would agree is an absolute, basic, and unalienable right.
The case has even brought the ire and attention of Congressman Ron Paul (TX), who in response introduced House Bill HR 1830: To authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.
The incident is just one in a long string of raids on small farms, indicating that the FDA is quite serious about its attempt to eliminate food freedom for all Americans. And as feared, the "Food Safety Modernization Act," which was enacted earlier this year, gives the FDA the jurisdiction and near unlimited authority to single-handedly decide if a food is harmful, without having to produce credible evidence to support their case.
Ron Paul's bill would undo at least some of the damage, as it would make it legal for farmers to sell and distribute raw milk across state lines to those who wish to obtain it.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to support Ron Paul's bill, HR 1830, and inform everyone you know. This issue has nothing to do with whether or not you want to drink raw milk, and everything to do with whether or not you want the right to chose what you feed your family. If we allow the US government to remove our right to raw milk, who knows what's next?!
They could decide you don't have the right to obtain or eat fresh vegetables, or no right to buy or drink water.
Sound ludicrous? So is the idea that you do not have the right to drink raw milk, a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years and has proven health benefits. Considering the fact that we've seen more and more outbreaks of the rare virulent forms of E.coli and other pathogens being traced back to fresh produce, I see no reason why the FDA might not decide to make fresh vegetables illegal. Ditto for water, as water shortages may eventually become a reality, prompting the need to dramatically curb water consumption, and what better means than by force of law backed up with firepower?
The Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created a petition page for HR 1830 that also automatically faxes your message to your US Senators and House Representative. You can even choose to send your message to your nearest daily newspaper.
I urge you to take a moment to sign the petition right now!
How Did We Get to This Point?
During a recent peaceful demonstration in D.C. in support of Allgyer, attorney Jonathan Emord explained how we got to the point where we must now FIGHT for our right to ingest a healthful food.
"We would not be here today were it not for the fact that over the past 75 years, the Congress of the United States has delegated away to some 230 independent regulatory commissions the power to make law, the power to execute the law, and the power to judge law violation. That delegation of governing power from Congress to the unelected heads of the regulatory agencies violates the Constitution, which vests exclusively in Congress the obligation to make law.
Nine-tenths of all laws are no longer the product of our elected representatives; they are created by the unelected heads of the bureaucratic agencies. Those agency heads are unaccountable to the courts, the Congress, and the American people. One such agency that engages in this unconstitutional governance is the Food and Drug Administration. It is the action of that agency that we examine today, because it offends the very foundation of liberty of our Republic."
In short, we as Americans have failed to keep our eyes on the ball. We grew complacent; lulled into non-action and non-participation by the illusion that "Government is taking care of our needs."
Meanwhile, our rights to life, liberty and freedom have eroded away, and this is the end result: An agency of the government, paid for by your tax dollars and the drug industry, claims you have no inherent human right to eat any particular food. Yes. That's not a misinterpretation. They now declared that this is exactly their position, and it's written in black and white…
FDA Claims to have God-Like Authority Over Your Life
Attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF, a not for profit organization founded to protect the right of farmers and consumers to engage in direct commerce) helped to draft the text of HR 1830. FTCLDF has also filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on behalf of eight plaintiffs, challenging the legality of the FDA ban on interstate distribution of raw milk for human consumption.
FTCLDF president, Pete Kennedy, stressed that the FDA is making it clear that even individual consumers crossing state lines to purchase raw milk and bringing it back to their home state are violating the law. The ban is not just limited to farmers selling the milk.
On April 26, 2010, the FDA submitted its initial response to this lawsuit, in which the FTCLDF asserts the unconstitutionality of the ban on raw milk in interstate commerce. In its answer, the FDA clearly states its position on the "freedom of food choice" in general, and your right to obtain and consume raw milk in particular. Their answer reads in part:
- "Plaintiffs' assertion of a new 'fundamental right' to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law." [p. 4]
- "It is within HHS's authority . . . to institute an intrastate ban [on unpasteurized milk] as well." [p. 6]
- "Plaintiffs' assertion of a new 'fundamental right' under substantive due process to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law." [p.17]
- "There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food." [p. 25]
- "There is no 'deeply rooted' historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds." [p. 26]
- "Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish." [p. 26]… "Even if such a right did exist, it would not render FDA's regulations unconstitutional because prohibiting the interstate sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk promotes bodily and physical health." [p. 27]
- "There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract." [p. 27]
Essentially, while the fight currently revolves around your right to obtain and consume raw milk, the FDA claims to have the power to restrict your access to any kind of food it deems harmful, because you have no fundamental right to obtain and eat any particular food whatsoever!
The statements made by the FDA truly challenge the rational mind and rattle the core of any freedom-loving soul.
Aside from the fact that most people assume they have the right to ingest any food they see fit, United States law has also given us the freedom to enter into private contracts as we choose. In the case of raw milk, increasing numbers of people have elected to obtain their milk through contractual arrangements such as buyers club agreements and herdshare contracts. Here, the FDA claims that there is no fundamental right to freedom of contract in the United States!
As the FTCLDF states on its website:
"As for the agency's contention that there is no fundamental right to obtain any food, including raw milk, here is what the 'substantive due process' clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
Obtaining the foods of your choice is so basic to life, liberty and property that it is inconceivable that the 'right of food choice' would not be protected under the Constitution…"
Kentucky Raw Milk Consumers Get a Rude Awakening
A recent blog post by Kimberly Hartke highlights the sense of shock felt when people suddenly realize that the government's over-reach now affects them personally. A food club based in Louisville, Kentucky recently got a visit from the county health inspector, who promptly issued a cease and desist order when he saw that raw milk was being sold. He also placed all the milk on the premises under quarantine.
The members of the club have leased cows from a Kentucky dairy farm and have ownership rights in the milk produced. To say they were shocked when they were told they could not pick up their personal property would be an understatement, but once the fear subsided, they turned angry, and then resolve set in.
Hartke quotes one of the club members, Dr. Joslin:
"We had heard about government actions against other farmers, but it didn't hit home until last Friday. My wife turned to me and said, 'we could lose our milk, and I am ready to fight this'."
She goes on to write:
"When asked how he felt about the health inspector's visit, he said, "I felt violated. This is my freedom, my choice. You don't have any right to tell me that I can't feed my family something that has been consumed all over the world for thousands of years. Pasteurization is something new, in fact, fresh milk may be more commonly consumed worldwide, than processed milk."
More than 90 percent of the club members responded to the threat by ignoring the quarantine and picking up their milk. But they also signed a document of their own. Affirming their legal right to enter into private contracts, their document included the following passages from the Kentucky Constitution:
Section 1: Rights of life, liberty, worship, pursuit of safety and happiness, free speech, acquiring and protecting property, peaceable assembly, redress of grievances, bearing arms. Section 10: The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable search and seizure; and no warrant shall issue to search any place, or seize any person or thing, without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.
Section 19: No ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be enacted. Section 26: To guard against transgression of the high powers which we have delegated, We Declare that everything in this Bill of Rights is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and all laws contrary thereto, or contrary to this Constitution, shall be void.
"Dr. Joslin and his wife are typical of the consumers that choose local, fresh milk to feed their families. They are well educated, they did a tremendous amount of research before making the transition, and they had a compelling health reason (their children) to do so. They also are typical in the sense that they believe in the American ideals of personal liberty and right to private property, limited government.
"I do not hate our government or system of government," stresses Joslin, "Rather, I am a patriot, a flag waver, and I thank our veterans. But, my priority is to protect my family's liberty. I will not lie down."
Motives, Misconceptions, and Ignorance
"The ban on raw milk crossing state lines is an economic regulation disguised as a health regulation," Pete Kennedy points out. For those who cannot understand what this has to do with economics, you must understand that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO's) simply cannot compete with grassfed raw milk farms, and therefore stand to lose a lot of money as raw milk becomes increasingly popular.
They cannot compete because in order for milk to be safely consumed raw, it should come from cows fed a forage based diet that includes pasture. CAFO-derived milk should not be consumed raw given the elevated risk of hazardous pathogens in the milk—an inevitable side effect of the environment in which these cows are raised.
The reason why they're trying to shut down raw milk farmers is because so many people consume raw milk and raw milk dairy products, and the numbers are growing every year. One 2008 survey conducted by the CDC found there were over nine million raw milk drinkers in the US, and today, the number of raw milk consumers is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 12-13 million. When you consider that each family can consume a few gallons of milk per week, it all starts adding up, and Big Dairy is losing business.
Additionally, Kennedy stated that raw milk can be a "gateway to small farm prosperity". Families who initially set foot on the farm to obtain raw milk typically end up purchasing other farm products such as produce, eggs, poultry and meat.
The CDC's study also highlights the error of the claim that raw milk poses a significant health risk. With that many millions of raw milk consumers, it's quite clear that grassfed raw milk is extremely safe, because there are so few foodborne illness outbreaks attributable to it.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, while the FDA has the authority to declare foods safe or unsafe, they do not have experts in their employ with the intellectual aptitude to find the relevant research and data to help them understand the food. It's quite clear that the FDA still has no understanding whatsoever of the differences between the production of raw milk intended for pasteurization by a CAFO or other conventional dairy and the production of raw milk intended for direct human consumption by a small farm.
Conventional CAFO milk must be pasteurized in order to conform to the distribution process and elimination of the elevated risk of pathogens that are present because of the conditions in which the cows are kept. But milk from a healthy cow that is fed a balanced diet that includes pasture and has access to clean and comfortable shelter has a lower risk of a pathogen presence and has a different quality profile than that of CAFO milk.
FDA enforcement actions have not been limited to raw milk farmers. Recently the agency cost award-winning cheese makers Kelly and Anthony Estrella their business.
Without a shred of evidence that her hand-crafted cheeses had made anyone sick, the FDA was able to shut down the Estrella Family Creamery based on environmental and cheese sample test results that were positive for the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono.). There are many subtypes of L. mono., most have not been found to cause illness in humans. Instead of determining whether the L. mono. found at the creamery was a virulent subtype—something the FDA had the capability to do—the FDA shut down the dairy through a seizure order without any further testing.
And so, the agency put out of business cheesemakers that had won numerous awards both in the US and internationally based on nothing more than a misconceived suspicion that her methods of cheese production and storage might be "unsanitary." Never mind the fact that high-quality raw cheeses MUST undergo certain fermentation processes and storage conditions in order to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and so on…
Cheese making is an art form that has been perfected over numerous generations, the products from which have been consumed and valued for their superior taste and nutrition for ages. The FDA has considered raising the aging requirement for raw cheese from sixty days to ninety days further limiting the amount and variety of raw cheeses in this country. Europe has no aging requirement.
But according to the FDA, you don't have the right to eat high-quality unpasteurized cheese—because they say so.
Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms is a documentary by Kristin Canty that will likely make the government's overreach an even hotter topic. It premiered on June 17 at the West End Theater in Washington D.C. For a full list of scheduled venues, please see the film's screening page.
The film's synopsis reads in part:
Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.
… Instead of focusing on the source of food safety problems — most often the industrial food chain — policymakers and regulators implement and enforce solutions that target and often drive out of business small farms that have proven themselves more than capable of producing safe, healthy food, but buckle under the crushing weight of government regulations and excessive enforcement actions.
Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals' rights to access food of their choice…"
I encourage you to view this film if you can. The DVD release is expected in the late fall or winter.
I also encourage you to consider making a donation to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). This 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization enables targeted farmers to keep their businesses open, whereas they would otherwise have no choice but to close down due to insurmountable legal and financial pressure. Your donations, although not tax deductible, will be used to support the litigation, legislative, and lobbying efforts of the FTCLDF.