Raw Milk Freedom Riders to Rally at FDA Headquarters November 1st
From Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Raw Milk Freedom Riders to Rally
On November 1, a group of mothers who feed their children raw milk and others who oppose the FDA’s enforcement actions against the distribution of raw dairy products will hold a demonstration outside the agency’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The rally will protest against the criminalization of Americans who buy and sell raw milk. Prior to the demonstration, a caravan of raw milk moms will defy a federal ban on raw milk in interstate commerce and cross into Maryland with each vehicle carrying raw milk obtained in Pennsylvania. The sale of raw milk is legal in Pennsylvania but illegal in Maryland. Those making the trip are calling themselves the “Raw Milk Freedom Riders”.
The ‘Milk and Cookies’ rally is being organized by Liz Reitzig and Karine Bouis-Towe, co-founders of Grassfed On The Hill (the Washington, DC area food buyers club) and the activist group, the Farm Food Freedom Coalition. FDA is currently in federal court seeking to obtain a permanent injunction prohibiting Pennsylvania Amish dairy farmer, Dan Allgyer, from shipping raw milk and raw milk products across state lines alleging that the farmer was distributing raw dairy products in interstate commerce to members of Grassfed On The Hill in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The federal law (21 CFR § 1240.61) banning raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce states:
No person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized….
In February 2010 the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit challenging the interstate ban in a federal district court; in September 2010, Judge Mark W. Bennett asked FDA to answer the following question:
whether the interstate ban applies to and proscribes the conduct of: (1) persons who travel from one state, where it is not legal to purchase raw milk, to another state, where it is legal to purchase raw milk, who then legally purchase raw milk, and then return to the original state where they consume the raw milk themselves or give it to their friends or family members;….
FDA’s answer to the question was that the interstate ban did apply and that “the hypothetical interstate traveler in this example would have ‘caused’ raw milk ‘to be delivered into interstate commerce’ in violation of 21 CFR § 1240.61.”
Wisconsin raw milk activist Max Kane, who will be one of the speakers at the rally, has tried to find out whether FDA intends to enforce the law on November 1, recently making numerous calls to agency officials asking what the agency’s plans were for the Raw Milk Freedom Riders’ caravan. Kane did not find out what the FDA’s intentions were for the event but did leave a message with John Sheehan, director of FDA’s Division of Plant and Dairy Food Safety, inviting Sheehan to either witness the event or take action against the raw milk moms. More than any other individual, Sheehan represents the heart of the opposition to the right to sell and consume raw milk.
FDA has consistently refused to listen to anyone with an opposing viewpoint on raw milk; on November 1, those the agency would criminalize will bring their case to FDA. The acts of civil disobedience openly planned to be carried out that day by otherwise law-abiding citizens is another sign that the interstate ban should be repealed. Passage of H.R. 1830, a bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and co-sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), can put the regulation out of its misery.
The demonstration outside FDA headquarters is scheduled to begin at 12 noon EST shortly after the raw milk caravan is expected to arrive in Silver Spring. Aside from Kane, other leaders in the local food and raw milk movement slated to speak at the rally include Michael Schmidt, Joel Salatin, Mark McAfee, Sally Fallon Morell, and Liz Reitzig.