Another Dairy Farmer Questions the Ag Regulators Practice of Shooting First and Never Asking Questions

One thing you have to say about the state agriculture officials in New York, Pennsylvania, and California. At least theyre consistent.

When they claim to find pathogens in samples of raw milk and no one gets sick, they force a recall or shut down raw milk production at the targeted dairy.

And when people who happen to be raw milk drinkers get sick and no pathogens are found, the regulators automatically blame raw milk, and force a recall or shut down milk production.

Sometimes they find a dairy producer who gets their sadistic juices flowing, like Mark Nolt, and they hit him again and again, where the only indications of pathogens or illness seem to be with the individual regulators in charge.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

The only good news is that the regulators’ claims are increasingly being questioned. Farmers are speaking up more often and more strongly. And, surprise surprise, theyre actually getting at least a bit of their viewpoint heard in the media.

The latest such raw-milk mystery involves a Pennsylvania dairy, Hendricks Farms and Dairy, accused by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture of having sold raw milk that sickened at least ten people with campylobacter. Except the PDA cant find any campylobacter in the dairys milk, nor do independent tests by the dairy show any pathogens.

The Pennsylvania Health Secretary took the unusual step of issuing a press release on PR Newswire, a major press release distribution service that charges hundreds of dollars to issue releases. (To locate the release, go to, and search under Hendricks.)

All that has the dairys owner, Trent Hendricks, understandably upset.

HF&D has never had a positive pathogen test from any samples taken directly from our farm. Any statements to the contrary are false and misleading., Trent says on the farms web site.

And local organizations of consumers are speaking up as well. Three organizationsthe Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, the Pennsylvania Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, and the Weston A. Price Foundationon Wednesday issued a joint press release stating, A series of rush-to-judgment raw dairy recalls and actions against raw milk farmers around the country, has exposed inappropriate protocols used to assess the safety of raw milk and extreme bias on the part of investigators.

Trent points out in that joint release, I have jumped through hoops in an attempt to meet or surpass the state requirements. Our farm has an excellent track record on test results, and we even go above and beyond by testing the milk weekly for pathogens. All of our good faith efforts and compliance didnt amount to a hill of beans. When we needed the benefit of the doubt from the state, it wasnt there. We take food safety very seriously. All we asked is that PDA have evidence before they convict us. Instead, they insisted on putting out a press release damning our product before test results were back–before they had any conclusive proof.

It would seem as if the local agency that requires you to register and takes your registration fee should be willing to try to figure out exactly what’s happening before shutting you down.

The local news media have given the affair significant coverage and, to the credit of some, have raised the questionable nature of the findings.

Youd think that with all the questionable findings, or non-findings, that maybe the regulators would be curious to understand the discrepancies. That is, maybe theyd want to have their scientists explore what could be leading to false positives, or what other foods or conditions might be making people sick. Because right now, all theyre doing is confusing people.

It’s important to understand that the state agencies take their marching orders from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and here is what the FDAs John Sheehan, Director, Division of Plant and Dairy Food Safety Office of Food Safety, said before the Maryland House of Delegates in early 2007 when testifying against legislation that would have allowed cow-shares in the state:

Raw milk should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason. FDA’s opinion in this matter is entirely consistent with that of the American Medical Association, which holds as policy the position that all milk sold for human consumption should be required to be pasteurized

You cant get a much more definitive policy statement than that. The fact that half a million or more Americans are consuming raw milk each day without any problems is irrelevant to the regulators. If youre basing policy on ideology, exploration is the last thing you want to encourage. Because the answers might be different than what you want them to be.

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54 Comments on "Another Dairy Farmer Questions the Ag Regulators Practice of Shooting First and Never Asking Questions"

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Gary Cox
September 19, 2008 7:27 am

david, trent has asked for representation and the board of the legal defense fund has agreed. we’re officially representing trent in this and maybe in one other case.

September 19, 2008 8:27 am

Don, exactly! They harrass anyone who sells Raw Milk! If you have a permit or contracts they are out to get either one. All I can say is that the more news it makes the more business the Raw Milk farmer gets! There scare tactics are working with most people anymore.

People wonder why the fuss and do the research!

Go Farmers Go!

raw milk mommy
September 19, 2008 9:08 am

In the raw milk community, it is common knowledge that raw milk has anti-microbial properties. We also know that there is always a remote possibility that raw milk can harbor pathogens.

Mark McAfee did a test on his milk: McAfee injected E.coli, listeria, and salmonella in his milk and in pasteurized milk. He says that in the raw milk, none of the added pathogens survived because of the naturally occurring acids and anti-microbial bacteria that fought off these pathogens.

It doesnt say how long it took for the pathogens to die. Was it hours, days?

Last month… Read more »

September 19, 2008 5:45 pm

"All of our good faith efforts and compliance didnt amount to a hill of beans"

And many wonder why the raw milk movement is best served underground……….

September 19, 2008 6:23 pm

My question is where are the actual people who do get sick. I never see an interview on TV or in the newspapers of them. How do we know that they aren’t making it up? There is no evdience of sick people. Ok, if they are too sick, than can speak later. I just don’t believe it.

Also, most customers buying raw milk know there farmer as a friend for the most part and our weekly customers. This isn’t the normal big business where you are just a number. You are… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 19, 2008 7:56 pm

"Youd think that with all the questionable findings, or non-findings, that maybe the regulators would be curious to understand the discrepancies."

It is obvious that they only care about their own agenda. To hell with facts,honesty, freedom of choice, or truth.

Steve Bemis
September 19, 2008 10:34 pm

Not to defend those who ought not be defended (they are certainly abroad in the land, and they must be challenged in their excesses), but as a point of reference and in fairness, there are regulators who are trying to have an honest dialogue. A partial approach to such a dialogue seems to have happened in the California hearings leading up to SB201, although the regulators were notably absent. In Michigan we’ve had a group meeting for well over a year now, including facilitators from Michigan State University, top milk regulators from the Michigan Department of Agriculture,… Read more »

mark mcafee
September 20, 2008 1:31 am

Great ideas flowing today.

We have found in CA that the definition of illness is undefined. If a pathogen is found in someones stool sample, that counts as an illness even if that person is not treated and not hospitalized.

So the very definition of what a "sick patient" is…is not defined ( so far as we can see ). So numbers of sick people is a smoke screen that no one can look behind, becasue the identities of the patients is not revealed and no one knows if any one is really sick.

That is why I immediately traveled… Read more »

September 20, 2008 3:14 am

"What I found was two kids…not six. What I found was two kids that did not have matching pathogens in their stool samples. What I found was two kids that were not in ICU two days after our recall was initiated and were not on life support. This was a huge difference from what was told to the public."

Mark, You just don’t know when to stop. I don’t know who your trying to fool. It is really insulting.

September 20, 2008 5:09 am

Here we go again.

Mark McAfee says something and someone gets insulted.

Steve Bemis
September 20, 2008 8:25 am
a disgusted reader
September 20, 2008 10:00 am

Mark McAfee,

You come on this blog and twist the facts about the children who became ill in September of 2006. It is unconscionable! You state you visited on September 25, 2006. Both children entered the hospital at the end of the first week of September. Around three weeks later, you come for a visit. Does that erase what occurred the three weeks before? Chris Martin almost died. Please do not make light of this fact. The day you came to visit he was past the ventilator stage (life support), but he… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 20, 2008 10:19 am

Steve, can the Hendricks sue the state? The false accusation, I am sure hurt the business for a time.

IS there a way to notify the public on a grand scale of the targeting of raw dairies? You know it won’t stop at just the raw dairies.

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 20, 2008 10:20 am

Lordy David….here we go again.

no name
September 20, 2008 2:05 pm

Who cares what name people use when they post. Does it really make a difference?

September 20, 2008 3:47 pm

A name doesn’t really matter if you are just posting opinions. However accusing somebody of lying while posting this accusation anonymously seems a bit extreme. If you have information that proves somebody is lying, then at least tell us who you are and how you come to know what you know. Mark has given his side of the story. If this person has a different side and knows something, then come out with it. Otherwise I have to assume that A Disgusted Reader is just a troll looking for fun.

September 20, 2008 6:41 pm

Disgusted, et al

Here are some facts:

No pathogens were found at the OP farm or in the OP products.

The children did not get sick from OP products.

The state paid a settlement to OP.

Any other conclusion is pure speculation or a hallucination..

Get over it. Get some therapy. Change your meds.


Troll is the word. Calling Mark a liar is a typical ploy of the anti wholesome milk crowd.


Please continue your good work. As a leader you will be taking hits from those who don’t like or agree with you. I hope you have the strength to… Read more »

Dave Milano
September 20, 2008 8:16 pm

Steve Bemis correctly said "The dividing line between the freedom and the regulation is THE question, obviously, with most of us preferring more freedom and less regulation." But there is a tether on our freedom, called healthcare. Our health science controls the regulations, and as so many have said here and elsewhere, it is based on a faulty premise, that bugs equal sickness. Until that premise is called into question, this fight will not go away.

Raw milk regulation is very emblematic of the mess. Medical theory dictates (now there’s a truism that ought to give pause–theory "dictating") for example,… Read more »

A disgusted reader
September 20, 2008 10:26 pm

I will assume the Hendricks are reading this blog. Mark McAfee does serve as a learning tool for raw milk farmers who find themselves in a situation where people have become ill after consuming their raw milk. DONT DO WHAT HE HAS DONE!

When people become ill, have sensitivity to the fact people have suffered; especially if children are involved.
Dont down play the seriousness of the illness
If for some reason you ever visit the ill children or adults in the hospital, dont twist the facts and make up lies about the visit. For example, dont… Read more »

September 20, 2008 10:59 pm

"Do you think this is funny????? Playing games with the facts. It is sick!!!!!!"

I agree with this statement, on both sides, not just Mark’s. It is horrendous when the news media reports that 6 children are on life support, when only two are. It is horrendous when health departments and state agricultural departments spend money on press releases rather than on looking for where the pathogen came from when that is not clear.

The only way to solve such a problem is for Mark to defend himself, even in the face of a dying child, to hold those agencies… Read more »

September 20, 2008 11:48 pm

Warning: if you post a real name, that person who produced raw dairy/colostrum linked to 2 outbreaks and 2 recalls will immediately threaten to sue you.

Robin Marie Monroe
September 20, 2008 11:51 pm

Gwen, Youve missed the point. It is horrendous when the news media reports that 6 children are on life support, when only two are. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN. I gave everyone the website for the news videos from the Sept,. 2006 raw milk outbreak. Watch them and see for yourself how the media covered on this story.

I used a name. Does this somehow make the news stories that you can view more valid?

A disgusted reader

September 21, 2008 12:03 am

A Disgusted Reader,

Since you failed to either post your real identity or the source from which you’ve acquired your "facts" as I’ve requested, I will consider you a troll from now on. I was willing to hear your side, but it appears that you are not willing to actually be on the level here.

September 21, 2008 1:15 am

I live in a society that is predisposed to witch-hunting.

If you believe that there is a devil or witch, then you are going to find one.

I have been both a hunter and huntee. It was interesting to be on the receiving end after so many years of being other wise.

The decision to break from this was the first mature decision I ever made.

I have problems with commentators who speak without having ever been an active part of any dairy and ranch. This means WORK and being intimately involved in day to day operations.

The mindset of a rancher/dairyman to death… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 21, 2008 2:39 am

Anonymous, if my business was slandered, I’d sue too, as would many business owners. As Gwen pointed out, any business owner will defend what they believe is true.

With the govt entities screwing up so often, performing sloppy investigations, it only reinforces the need to speak out. Should Mark or any other dairy farmer just lay down and take what the govt says as fact, when it is obvious they have performed substandardly?

Maurice, my friend’s husband died a few years ago. They raise standard-breds. All 48 head had to be fed that night and twice… Read more »

September 21, 2008 3:38 am


Your post is what I am talking about.


September 21, 2008 11:13 am

Here’s the CDFA press release–Organic Pastures Raw Milk Recall. It mentions only 3 children.

September 21, 2008 11:16 am

Out for a nice late summer evening troll…you guys banter back and forth about rights to sell/buy raw milk. The evolution of the conversation has gone from discounting food safety to admitting it is the key point of the debate. Open minded and curious by nature, I read the state reports and looked up the farmer under discussion:

An outstanding citizen that has the time to make safe raw milk/colostrum?

Conclusion: the consumers do not have the ability to "know the farmer" when a product is sold commercially. It is the responsibility of… Read more »

September 21, 2008 11:39 am


dumb thought, but maybe reports come out before all information is available. the agencies could wait, but how much would the public like that? we knew of x cases and x product associated with illness, but decided to wait for several weeks/months to tell the public, because there might be a press release that doesn’t coincide with the final sloppy report we are going to write.

If you were in charge of food safety and public health, how would you respond to several people being sick and the only thing in common being a raw dairy? If… Read more »

Mary Blair McMorran
September 21, 2008 11:39 am

No Name said "Who cares what name people use when they post. Does it really make a difference? "

Yes. It does to me. I like to know a poster’s identity. When you post anonymously, you are a coward. You don’t have the personal courage to stand behind your name. The raw milk movement is all about taking personal responsibility for one’s health. If you don’t understand that, you appear to be a sniper, shooting in surprise from the dark, afraid to put your name on your arrows. You disrepect my freedom of choice, therefore,… Read more »

September 21, 2008 12:31 pm

Disgusted, you missed a very important point about forums. Your post was not visible when I posted mine, so I was unable to view the videos. I believe 6 or 7 people all wrote and posted around the very same time, and so were unable to see each others’ responses as they were being concurrently written. Even so, your argument is shoddy.

"Both children developed HUS. E.coli 0157:H7 is famous for causing this syndrome in children. Both Lauren and Chris suffered complete kidney failure and needed kidney dialysis to keep them alive. "

You are still making several assumptions: 1)The E.… Read more »

September 21, 2008 6:45 pm

Gwen, I can see that the truth is too scary for you even to contemplate. Three sources have been posted on this topic; the report from the CDFA and two news videos to view. They all state basically the same information.

If Im not mistaken, you are a raw milk dairy farmer or have sold raw milk in the past. You seem to have integrity so Im sure it is difficult for you to believe that another dairy farmer would make up blatant lies about helpless children who became ill.

How come no one is asking… Read more »

September 21, 2008 10:04 pm

Nameless, you ARE mistaken. I have never sold raw milk. We milk a maximum of 3 goats at a time, for our own use, and did not milk at all last year. I sometimes make cheese as a hobby, especially Chevre, in my kitchen, for my family. I pasteurize the milk I feed my family on my stove at home. I have BOUGHT raw milk from farmers whose barns I’ve been in chatting with them and their cows. I raise fiber and meat animals. The most meat animals I’ve sold in a year is 6, and the most fleeces… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 21, 2008 10:09 pm

The govt entities have a very good track record for performing poorly. The FDA was aware of contamination problems in Californias Salinas Valley agricultural region for years. They knew of the virulent strain of E. coli, associated with manure and run-off from the large factory cattle farms, and knew it had repeatedly been detected in spinach and other leafy greens fields in the region. Yet, they failed to inform the public. They knew about the peanutbutter contamination in, I think it was 2004, yet they did nothing.

This has such a small list of the… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 21, 2008 10:21 pm

"I think it is much more important to get a handle on how pathogens go about making people ill in our food; and much more important to have many local sources of food; and some protection for the people who produce it."

Gwen, I would think finding the solution to the first part of your statement would decrease foodborne illness significantly. It doesn’t appear to be a top priority though. During WWII the victory gardens kept many alive. They are important for survival. I do believe education for all is another key for decreasing potentional contamination.

September 21, 2008 10:30 pm

Mark McAfee posts on this blog in support of the Hendricks family during the recall that this family is involved in. The examples he gives about his own recall experience are lies. This is the truth that is being referred to right now. We are not debating if the children became ill from his milk. We are debating if this man tells the truth regarding the facts of his own outbreak and recall.

The evidence providednew videos & CDFA reportsupports the claim that Mark McAfee continues to tell lies. Syliva, Gwen, revgen, & Blair, are… Read more »

September 21, 2008 11:23 pm


Mark sounds like a man who is protecting his daughter and standing up to authority.

How would you respond? I guess you would meekly submit.

I would want Mark in my corner any day, not a coward like you giving up all my rights to the government.

Mark, we need warriors like you.

How many here would stand up land fight like Mark has?

September 21, 2008 11:38 pm

Sylvia said: "The FDA was aware of contamination problems in Californias Salinas Valley agricultural region for years. They knew of the virulent strain of E. coli, associated with manure and run-off from the large factory cattle farms, and knew it had repeatedly been detected in spinach and other leafy greens fields in the region. Yet, they failed to inform the public."

There are no cattle "factory farms" in the Salinas Valley. The large central valley dairies and feedlots are 100’s of miles from Salinas Valley. Your ernest desire to blame factory farms and runoff for the… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 22, 2008 12:13 am

"if your daughter was arrested for drunk driving"

IF my daughter was arrested for DUI and her blood was positive for it, then she would have to deal with the results of her actions . Since I didn’t see your links, I am not seeing how that correlates?

Discrepancies? They come from all areas, that is why most on this blog have stated and encourage people to do thier own research. No one is asking non raw dairy people to conform, just let people make thier own choices. What is so hard about that?

If an MD told you… Read more »

September 22, 2008 12:35 am


What is your definition of a factory farm and where are the CAFOs in Salinas Valley? The spinach outbreak strain was found in cattle manure from a grass-fed beef operation that now has its own slaughterhouse. Do you stand by your statement that this is a factory farm associated with E. coli?

Two conscientious beef farmers on opposite sides of the country have opened their own slaughterhouses. In Bluffton, GA, White Oak Pastures, the states largest grass-fed beef producer, has just completed its own on-farm plant, according to Sustainable Food News. The plant was… Read more »

September 22, 2008 5:26 am

can’t we all just get along……

September 22, 2008 5:39 am

Looks like the trolls have taken over this blog again.

I strongly suggest not engaging these trolls and ignore them.

September 22, 2008 10:23 am

Tests apparently found Mark’s daughter not under the influence. Tests found OP negative for the matching strain of E. coli. Likewise, tests found Chris Martin negative for E. coli.

Do we accept science, or not?

September 22, 2008 11:26 am


Should we blindly follow Mark and WAPF while they promulgate lies?
The science is strong on the OP E. coli and Campy outbreaks. You can suggest reinventing epidemiology, that’s your right, but good luck. Likewise, law enforcement did their job taking a drunk off the road – can you imagine MADD discussing the argument that an adored and worshiped raw milk farmer stepped up in this situation to attack the cops and prevent them from protecting the public (maybe law enforcement faked the data and are in kahoots with public health)? Kudos to law enforcement and… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
September 22, 2008 12:38 pm

Wow you continue to say she was drunk, even after the link posted stated she was cleared. FYI, that means she was NOT drunk. Is that defamation (sp) of character? Who said anything about blindly following anyone? As per the link " attorneys said Makel took her crying as a refusal to submit to a blood or breath-alcohol test" Now the cop knows not to assume things.

I wonder why the writer felt it was neccessary to mention Mark’s father? Hmm perhaps a need to make a mundane story appear more exciting? Angela Davis?… Read more »

Mary Blair McMorran
September 22, 2008 1:46 pm

Gwen wrote: "Infectious disease is a fickled puzzle, and frankly, I’m fascinated with it. I aced Microbiology, and Human Anatomy and Physiology; have taken Calculus and 4 college Chemistry classes."

Me too, Gwen. Don’t have the academic credentials you have, but I’ve been googling it for 8 years. This weekend I went to a Standard Process seminar, and the focus was on gut health. Calcuim, Vitamin F and Vitamin D are called the "Triad of Immunity" – crucial for fighting disease. Ironically, calcium-rich diet (with sunshine and grass-fed fats, as well as the minerals and enzymes… Read more »

September 22, 2008 2:16 pm


Some people really hate mark McAfee.

No matter what he does he is guilty.

And remember folks, please don’t feed the trolls.

September 22, 2008 4:48 pm

Just my opinion. The biggest problem we have in this endless circular raw milk debate is BIG. BIg farms require retail distribution which maybe the only way for many to have the CHOISE to consume raw milk but that opens the door to BIG government to exert CONTROL. Can anyone say that government is not antii raw milk? Their mantra is always " Children and the elderly should never consume any raw dairy for any reason" that is the governments stated position. No debate.
TPTB "license" and approve filthy confinement dairies… Read more »

September 22, 2008 5:55 pm


Yes, the science is good. Extensive testing of the OP facility found no matching E. coli. I don’t have to reinvent epidemiology to think that OP wasn’t the source, and I’m not blindly following anyone.

On the subject of Mark’s daughter, why are some children to be pitied while others undergo character assassination? Both were innocent.

September 23, 2008 7:11 am

I work at Hendricks Farms and Dairy so I cannot be objective about this. But I promise you that if we thought we were the source of the outbreak, we would have shut down production without complaint.

Thank you for this.