Every week for the last five years, Eric Wagoner, a Georgia farmer, has been delivering raw milk to members of a buyers club he organized. Because he is bringing the milk from dairies in neighboring South Carolina, he is meticulous about the process he follows. Members of the buyers club place their orders directly with the South Carolina farms, and each gallon of milk is assigned to a specific consumer. “We don’t even bring a single extra gallon back with us,” he tells me. “Each gallon has to have a name tied to it.”
The acquisition of South Carolina raw milk by Georgia consumers is necessary because Georgia only allows the sale of raw milk for animal consumption, while South Carolina allows the sale of raw milk from farms to consumers.
When Eric arrived today at anold farmers market in Athens with 100-plus gallons of milk for club members, three agents from the Georgia Department of Agriculture were waiting for him.
“They told me it’s illegal to cross state lines to sell or distribute raw milk, and distribute is the key word. They taped all my coolers shut and put a ‘stop sale’ notice on them. They said they’re going to come to my farm Monday morning and destroy the milk. Unless we get the authorities to stop it. I think this load is lost, but perhaps we can do something in coming weeks.”
Eric says he spoke with head of the dairy division at the Georgia Department of Agriculture (Peggy Gates). “She was very gruff with me. She told me it’s against Georgia law to sell or distribute raw milk. She wouldn’t listen to me that it was South Carolina milk. Right now they have told me no raw milk can be distributed in Georgia. They used the words, ‘imminent health hazard.’ Until I can get someone to look at us long enough to realize we aren’t doing anything wrong… we are done.”
Not surprisingly, many of the people who bought the milk are upset. “A number get it for health reasons. The only thing I can tell them is to drive to South Carolina and pick it up themselves. It’s about an hour and 15 minutes.”
According to Pete Kennedy, head of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, today’s raid has all the earmarks of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration around it. “I don’t think Georgia would be enforcing a federal law without encouragement from FDA. (Georgia authorities) have been aware of this for a long time. Why take action now? It’s not a violation of Georgia law. You can consume raw milk in Georgia. It’s not a violation of South Carolina law.” Federal law prohibits the sale of raw milk across state lines. But the sale had already been made, in South Carolina. The sold milk was simply being delivered to its owners.
I think this all follows on from the planned crackdown on buying clubs in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois that I reported on a few weeks ago. The FDA is not only obsessed with raw milk, but increasingly, with private sale vehicles consumers have organized, like herd shares and buying clubs. Dairy czar John Sheehan and his minions see them as little more than legal concoctions designed to get around federal and state efforts to limit raw milk consumption.
One other development on the raw milk front: Pete Kennedy reports that a number of raw dairies in Texas are taking their names off the realmilk.com web site, based on recent visits they’ve had from local health department regulators. Certainly understandable. Obsessed FDA and state regulators comb the site looking for targets to go after. Why make their jobs any easier?
It seems safe to say that federal and state regulators remain obsessed with raw milk, despite an absence of any data suggesting it presents a public health hazard.
I’ll be speaking Sunday about my book, The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, at a fund-raising event sponsored by the Northeast Organic Farming Association. It’s still possible to register—if you’re in the central Massachusetts area, try to come by.
Get your video cameras ready and use them!
Right now the producers of "Farmagedon" ( a made for PBS documentary on farm fodd raids ) are searching for Raw Milk Raid video documentation.There are scarce few minutes of live raid footage.
In this battle we must all learn from our friend Mike Schmidt in Ontario Canada. Video the raid. It is the only true way to incite the fires of change. No video.. no exposure…..no anger….no outrage…..no change. The common man is numb to words. It is the video that connects his heart and mind and sole and incites change and concern.
When the LA PD beat Rodney King nearly to death…..that was not news. Cops shoot and beat innocent people all the time using various different sundry excuses. What made this event news and caused riots was the fact that good quality video was taken and shown to the world on CNN. That was news and news that the common man could not stomach. News that embarrassed America and placed it in a human rights class far below where she thinks she is. Hard to wave your civil rightous finger at Red China or Cuba with a Rodney King video in everyones archives. That video rolled heads and delivered millions $ to the King family and changed policies in LA and accross the nation. Video is the key.
I strongly suggest that next week when the Feds or the state henchmen of the Feds come to confiscate the Peoples Personal Property —Raw Milk you do this:
Have every owner of their gallon of Raw Milk come to the farm and hold their raw milk container in their arms and make the FDA take it away from them. Each needs a receipt showing that they paid for it in South Carolina. Video rolling every second of the time. How the hell is that going to happen. A FDA G-Man dressed in a White Paper Moon Suit with paper covers over their shoes wrestling with a mom or dad over their personal raw milk and if they bring cops with guns thats even better!! There could not be better video. Seize the day…make John Sheehan get interviewed and explain why CFR 1240.61 exists….have him explain why people die from pastuerized milk! Have him explain to CNN why raw milk helps allergies yet pastuerized milk causes them! Make this national news! Have John Sheehan explain why raw milk is legal in CA and consumed by 60,000 people everyweek from 375 stores and why people are thriving!! Have the FDA explain why pastuerized milk causes severe lactose intolerance in a high percentage of people and raw milk rarely does in any people??!
This is drama and you need to treat it like it is an insane drama. Make the FDA stars in this phsyco-sicko drama. Put it in their face….put in a movie. Seize the Day and do not let another opportunity slip away. This is Farmagedon!!
At OPDC we have at least two video cameras ready to go all the time. Plus we have six video cameras rolling 24-7-365. If we ever get raided it will be grand theater and head line news and in CA if I know the moms….there probably will be some riots. Not sure how moms will riot…but it should be special. Get this video to Farmagedon producers and bring the FDA into the spotlight where they must answer for their protectionism of pastuerized milk that has weakened, sickened and killed so many. Do not play nice…they never do.
A political science professor told me once…"the only thing that causes change in politics is the infliction of deep and extreme pain". Video is a critical part of this. Do not be bashful. This is where the men and women separate themselves from the boys and girls and stand and fight. If we are truly the home of the brave and free….get the video camera out next week and gather the moms.
Trust me…this will work beautifully!!
I agree. Here’s a video on raw milk and a cow share.
My Marler pain beats your Marler pain…..
THREE DEATHS from Listeria from Pastuerized Milk beats NO DEATHS from Raw Milk and a weak immune system coupled with travlers diarrhea.
Life beats death….living food beats dead food….I rest my case.
The example you give is tragic, and involved a small, local producer of pasteurized milk (not a CAFO). Their processing area apparently became contaminated with Listeria, which got into their milk after pasteurization. This should be a lesson learned for both raw and pasteurized milk producers: it could happen to either of you.
That example does not change the fact that there are people out there producing raw milk illegally, in filthy conditions and making people gravely ill (sorry, I don’t think death is the only measure of suffering). As a leader in the raw milk iindustry, when are you going to step up and promote food safety vs. deny the outbreaks? By condoning operations like shown in the Dee Creek outbreak, you are saying that it is okay to produce raw milk in filth, and safety doesn’t matter (of course it doesn’t matter when you’re making $10 or more per gallon).
Mark McAfee has the right idea about videotaping any possible confrontations.
Lykke, you are right to keep bringing up the possible hazards of raw milk. It is potent stuff, both in expected health benefits and in possible contamination. Education and awareness are crucial for anyone who wants to drink it. We who drink raw milk should be the first to acknowledge all this, and I and many others do. However, the alternative is not benign, either. Those of us who reject pasteurized milk and other "dead’ foods do so for good reason.
I am not a supporter of a "Raw Milk Free-For-All". A nation with no standards or rules for retail raw milk is a nation in denial and looking for raw milk problems. I believe in good standards and good testing systems. We have those systems in CA and the evidence is clear……
The tragedy at Whittier was not random or chance. According to Dr. Ron Hull PhD, in Australia about 66% of all creameries in the country had Listeria Detected in their envirnonmental test results. He said this was caused by the use of heavy sanitizers that killed organic acid producing bacteria ( our dear friend Lactobacillus is the chief of these bacteria ). This allows Psuedamonas and their cousins Listeria to dominate the environment uninhibited. This is biology in action and it is missed by the pastuerized bacteria paranoid FDA and NCIMS standards.
One of the reasons that OPDC has never found a listeria in their environmental tests is because we fill our Kefir bottles in the same place and use the same machines as we fill our raw milk ( we clean between each process ). This assures that the creamery environment is dominated by tough beneficial bugs that kick Listeria out of the food chain. A pastuerization plant never does this. They consider the presence of any bacteria a "biohazzard incident".
There is the science and what happened at Whittier Farms is not random. It could happen at any pastuerization plant and it does routinely. There are virtually no cases of listeria associated with raw milk. Nearly all dairy cases are with thermalized fake raw cheeses ( missing their good organic acid producing bacteria ) or pastuerized milk.
"Cleaniless may be next to godliness….but sterility is a prelude to death". ( author unknown )
So very appropriate with biology, food safety and health.
Get those video camera batteries checked and charged. Have two camera men ready to go….You need this from all angles.
Thanks for this – appreciate your perspective: "Education and awareness are crucial for anyone who wants to drink it. "
True, we don’t usually know why someone gets ill and someone else doesn’t after exposure to the same contaminated food. It could be that the contamination is patchy (not evenly distributed). Clearly, there are host differences meaning that some people are more susceptible. I wish there was a way to know for sure who is at risk and who isn’t. Generally, the young, old, and immunocompromised are at more risk, but there are lots of examples that don’t fit in those categories. Also, the situation is not unique to raw milk: you can have the classic bad potato salad at a picnic and still not everyone gets ill, and some get more ill than others.
GBS is autoimmune and can be triggered by a number of things including vaccination, salmonellosis and other infections, for unknown reasons. Note however that there is a much better understanding of how Campylobacter jejuni causes the disease, and its occurrence after campylobacter infection is much more frequent (though still rare): 1 in 1,000 people. The phenomenon is called "molecular mimicry." I think it is fascinating from a biology point of view. Certain strains of Campylobacter (like the one that cause the illness in the video I linked to) carry genes that express carbohydrates on the surface of the bacteria’s cells. These moeties have the same structure as part of human nerve cells. When the patient develops immunity and makes antibodies against the campylobacter, those same antibodies later attack the patient’s own nerve cells causing paralysis.
I agree that historically listeriosis has been more of a problem in processed milk and illegal cheeses. That’s not the case with campylobacter, which is a much more common cause of outbreaks from raw milk, overall. The reason the Doyle study often cited by you doesn’t actually protect people is because the campylobacters don’t die for at least a week – most people drink their fresh milk in the first few days after buying. The only way to prevent it is to keep the bacteria from entering the raw milk in the first place (some like FDA would say that’s impossible, but I don’t necessarily agree).
PROSECUTION FOR NAIS OPPOSITION BEGINS by Kenny Fox
And it begins with the peaceful Amish who live in the land of the "free"
HMMM Who is loving thy brother TPTB or the Amish [outlaw] farmer?
For once we actually agree on something. The issue of listeria and campylobacter are political as well as scientific.
For some reason the FDA continues to blame raw milk and include raw milk with thermalized cheeses and pastuerized milk when it comes to listeria illness. As far as campylobacter is concerned there is very good evidence that exposure to small amounts of campy (over time ) builds nearly complete long term immunity to it.
Here we sit in the American bacteria paranoia bubble talking about what makes us alive and human.
Bacteria… Good and bad. Give me biodiversity or give me death…. cause that is exactly what is happening.
The Real California Milk Update ( the GOT MILK People ) for Fall 2009 reports extensivily on " recent scientific discoveries bring advancement to the bioactivities of milk". The letter which is sent out to producers and interested parties from the Got Milk people at the CA CMAB talks about Breast Milk and its incredible value. They never use the word RAW but they talk all about the bacteria in milk and its essential value to the immune system. Wow!!
Sounds like the scientists have a disconnect with the politicians at Got Milk. At the last RAW MILK Senate Hearings in Sac the Western United Dairymen representatives cursed raw milk.
Now..their scientists are giving it the highest praise and are looking to ways to extract the good biologically active parts of raw milk and put it back into dead milk.
What a strangle confused world we live in…..why not just clean up your act and drink the "raw milk" whole and complete with everything in tact.
Here’s a list of raw milk victims that Bill Marler has represented over the past 4 years.
Wow, David, Must have missed the post where YOU said raw milk outbreaks do NOT happen.
I think the raw milk movement should start demonstrating some science-based approaches to preventing outbreaks/illnesses. For example, this movement looks at the Dee Creek outbreak with a straight face and says that the filthy conditions represents good/normal practices for raw milk – WAPF denies the outbreak, and at the same time says it is appropriate for raw milk to be produced under unsanitary conditions.
I say, clean-up your act or the regulators, and I suspect, the litigators, will.
Are you clumping all raw dairy consumers into one box? The majority who post on this blog stated that all foods can become contaminated, including raw milk.
".look at raw dairies that don’t have outbreaks (what are they doing right?"
Many have asked this same question right on this blog, many raw milk consumers demand greater than basic sanitary conditions.. Why doesn’t the govt look into what those who produce healthy raw dairy are doing and promote and assist with optimal products?
"Convince public health you can produce raw milk safely. "
This have been proven. Why should there be a need to "convince" anyone?
"Forget the testimonials because we don’t believe them. "
Science based? What a sick joke, those science based results can easily be manipulated for whatever agenda you have. Many don’t believe the govt for good reason; it has proven to lie. Saying you don’t believe those testimonials is shameful on the govts part. You are negating something that is important to someone.
"Get us off you back by making raw milk safer.."
Many believe it is safer than the processed phoods the govt and big industries promote. Many have drank raw dairy for years without any problems.
".if you can’t do that, then you should not be selling milk without pasteurization."
Many don’t believe pasturized milk is safe or healthy.
" If you can do that and regulators are still on your backs, then maybe there is a conspiracy"
This appears to be true. There is a great quanity of raw milk that is consumed and is safe. If it weren’t safe than many would be dead and/or gravely ill.
". But, lets see what happens first if the raw milk movement started with caring about food safety"
You must have missed all the posts with expectations of food safety.
" (vs. condoning filth in raw milk production)."
Please tell us WHO (list some names please) condones "filth in raw milk production?" Many don’t consume pasteurized dairy because of the filth the cattle live in, etc. Appears the govt condones that. Why is that?
They are also wonderful for taking to local presentations and meetings – especially in those places where new faces show up regularly. It puts everything on a personal level, and people get involved when it gets personal – they THINK about getting involved when it is not. We NEED actively involved people!
People are used to seeing highly edited sound/video bites on TV. Raw "news" content shocks folks in many cases, and people start asking questions – even when its not violent or loud or full of car chases and fireballs.
Plus (in most cases) its short. Documentaries are too long and involved for most people. The length of a raid video, with a good presentation before and a Q&A after would go a long way.