People are starting to get worked up about regulators taking away their food.

As you’ll see on the video here, about thirty people confronted two agents from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture yesterday outside Minneapolis when the agents confiscated raw milk the people had already purchased. The agents got involved because the milk came from the farm of Michael Hartmann. who has been under a state agriculture department order restricting him from distributing milk; he has argued that since he doesn’t have a dairy license, he’s not under the department’s jurisdiction.

Apparently he decided to fill orders from his customers, and the agents obtained a court order to go after him, and moved in to confiscate the milk being delivered by his brother, Roger. What you see on the video here are a lot of very upset people confronting two very uncomfortable agents. It’s a lot different scene from that in Georgia in September 2009, when several dozen consumers meekly disposed of milk they had purchased from South Carolina, which was confiscated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Many of the people have taken Mark McAfee’s advice, and turned on their video cameras. But there are also a number of angry questions and remarks being fired at the agents, which essentially boil down to this: Why are you doing this to us? At one point, one of the agents says, “I don’t have to respond to your questions. You’re not part of this investigation.” To which some of the people respond by reminding the agent, “You work for us. We pay your salary.” Oh, and the handicapped parking tag in the state’s car is a nice touch as well.

Hartmann has been accused by the state of raising his cows in unsanitary conditions, and producing milk that allegedly sickened 15 people last spring and summer. But that hasn’t deterred many of his loyal customers from continuing to demand his milk.

All of which raises in very dramatic form a question we’ve been debating here on and off: What is our right to access foods we want, which the government doesn’t want us to have?

The government won this one, but possibly at a high price now that people are on to the routine. “You’re not going to get away with this!” one of the customers says several times.

If this video is any indication, the struggle for food rights is moving to a new stage.


The federal government’s campaign against raw milk cheeses continues unabated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been on a kick to find listeria, the most commonly found pathogen, in  small cheese-producing facilities around the country.

The FDA’s clear goal is to make a case to change, or eliminate, its 60-day aging requirement. But the campaign may be coming up short, according to a survey of members of the American Cheese Society, which I report on in an article on Grist.