The State finally came for Mark Nolt, the Pennsylvania dairyman who refused to obtain a raw milk permit, and continued selling raw dairy products from his Nature’s Sunlight Farm.
A constable dispatched by a Pennsylvania District Court served Mark with an arrest warrant this morning and brought him to the court, where he was ordered to appear May 5 for a summary trial before a judge. According to a clerk I spoke with at the court, Mark was arrested in connection with five citations dating from last July for selling milk without a license. He has incurred a total of $5,100 in fines and costs, she said.
According to reports from neighbors and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, several officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture participated in the raid, and while Mark was being transported by police car to the courthouse, PDA officials confiscated $20,000 to $25,000 worth of dairy products and production equipment. Neighbors reported the farm had been closed and that a large group of officials had gathered, with videos prohibited. The clerk reported, at the time I spoke with her at 2 p.m., that Mark had already left the courthouse to return home.
I reported on Mark last August, when a group of ten state police and agents from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) descended on the 100-acre farm in Newville, and confiscated about $25,000 worth of Mark’s raw milk products, along with packaging and equipment. Mark told me at the time that he had voluntarily given up his raw milk license because it prohibited him from selling the other raw dairy products his customers want, like butter, cream, and yogurt.
Mark’s case is similar to that involving Meadowsweet Dairy LLC in New York, in that both Pennsylvania and New York allow raw milk sales, but adamantly oppose the sale of other raw dairy products. As I’ve reported, New York has gone after Meadowsweet owners Barb and Steve Smith with a vengeance. In the case of Mark Nolt, the state appeared to back off because he is a Mennonite who based his resistance in part on his religious beliefs. That has changed, as Pennsylvania now seems determined to close the case. But I would guess Mark will make the same argument to the judge that he made to me last August.