How Does the President-Elect Feel About Raw Milk? Lets Say Hes a Babe in the Woods

The movement to convince President-elect Barack Obama to name a reformer as secretary of agriculture (or a re-named “secretary of food”) just got some clout, with a New York Times columnist now pushing it.

It could be he will—he seems very much the pragmatist. At the same time, though, many raw milk consumers and producers alike have been wondering how the President-elect feels about raw milk, one of the more contentious food/agriculture issues around. And in this arena, I’m afraid I have bad news: he sides with the FDA. Or let’s put it this way: he did as of the summer of 2007.

That summer, a number of raw milk advocates, led by Aajonus Vonderplanitz, spent much time in Washington, lobbying legislators. They eventually succeeded in convincing Rep. Ron Paul to introduce legislation lifting the ban on interstate shipments of raw milk–a story I recounted here.

One advocate wrote to then-Senator Obama asking for his support. Aajonus provided me with the text of the response, and Obama’s answer actually begins hopefully:

“As you well know, raw milk is rich in protein and fat, and research continues to demonstrate the necessity of a nutrient-rich diet for good health.”

Then comes the “but” material, and the crux of his answer: “However, the potential risks presented by disease-causing bacteria, from E.coli to salmonella, raise serious concerns about raw milk’s viability in commercial markets. I understand your distaste for unnecessary federal regulations. At the same time, the FDA has a responsibility to provide consumer protection.”

Now, you can say that a staff member likely wrote this, and that Obama probably didn’t give it a lot of thought. Yet, as my original posting on Aajonus’ summer campaign makes clear, Obama wasn’t responding to an isolated request, but as a result of a concerted effort in which all legislators were contacted, and some eventually did express support.

You can also argue that he might change his mind. After all, he does seem like a reasonable guy. And miracles do occur every once in a while. Unfortunately, they’re not something you can count on.

All Obama’s statements and all his appointments thus far suggest he’s a big-government guy. We can’t allow the American auto industry to fail, he says. Why not? We just can’t. Same for the banking industry, the insurance industry, the mortgage industry, and every big industry that comes hat in hand seeking a multibillion dollar handout.

The President-elect may even be a super-big-government guy. There’s a movement afoot in Europe for a “world government” to tackle the big problems of climate change and financial collapse. According to a senior correspondent at the Financial Times, Barack Obama is favorably disposed.

If you think the FDA and USDA are tough, I suspect they’d look downright soft and cuddly next to a world government making decisions about what we can, and can’t, eat.

I hate to be super negative about this guy before he takes office, and I’m sure he will push constructive initiatives on energy and a few other areas. His predisposition to favor the regulators, though, isn’t encouraging.


Leave a Reply

31 Comments on "How Does the President-Elect Feel About Raw Milk? Lets Say Hes a Babe in the Woods"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Don Wittlinger
December 11, 2008 10:28 pm

It is an indeed a bleak outlook we see. Just this morning going across the bottom CNBC caption screen was AIG saying something to the effect they the can not now make enough money to pay back the government loans OH WELL so much for that $150 billion dollars loaned last month. No investagation of a borrowers ability to pay, is not dead yet.
9 years ago the organic community asked the USDA to clarify organic standards, their answer finially arrived in a draconing proposal that will eliminate small organic farms. WAPF has sent out… Read more »

December 12, 2008 3:40 am

I’m not much concerned about organic standards. The sooner everyone quits getting certified the better. Why?

Because it is a Trojan horse. All the government needs to do is be ‘environmentally friendly’ and require all farms to be certified organic and now they’ve got what they want: total control of production agriculture. In other words the collectivization of American Agriculture. Don’t forget what Stalin did in Ukraine to accomplish that.

Don’t get me wrong, I farm organically and think everyone else should to. But what we need is small family farms selling directly to customers. Eliminate the middle men,… Read more »

December 12, 2008 3:46 am

I think the best we can hope for from Obama is the pressure to ease off. And too much help, most likely to come in the way of friendly government handouts, will backfire over time (they always come with poison pills).

LindaDiane Feldt
December 12, 2008 5:41 am

Well here I go being an optimist again, but I think with the right questions we might get reasonable answers and support. If the question is the generic should raw milk be available that is too broad. I expect his answer to the question about farmers rights and consumers rights would be far different.
The FDA interfering in private contracts is something he can understand. The need to support small farmers.
There are aspects of this battle I trust Obama and his people would understand and fully support our perspective and appreciate the expertise with which it is offered.
I’m not… Read more »

Mark McAfee
December 12, 2008 9:41 am

As good as Obama is ( I voted for him and give my $20 per month for hope and change ) …I think he is a still a rookie. A smart rookie but still a rookie. His intellect and smarts should shorten his learning curve but he will still have areas that will be niave for a while. He will look to his team for advice and his team is not enlightened about nutrition at all. If the message can get to him, it is my hope that the idea of nutrition as prevention should make sense… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 12, 2008 11:01 am

" his answer: However, the potential risks presented by disease-causing bacteria, from E.coli to salmonella, raise serious concerns about raw milk’s viability in commercial markets. I understand your distaste for unnecessary federal regulations. At the same time, the FDA has a responsibility to provide consumer protection.

You can remove the words "raw milk" and insert-meats, produce, etc. TSK TSK, I am shaking my head. Raw dairy is such a small market. Yet there are those who wish to dictate what we consume.

I was reading the other day, those who are using alternative medicines (herbs/accupuncture, etc)… Read more »

john d
December 12, 2008 11:50 pm

Now why can’t we have Michael Pollan as Secretary of Agriculture? No doubt his lack of experience would be more of an asset than a handicap. At least he’s demonstrated a wonderful grasp of the issues we’re facing in his NY times article from a while back.

Amanda Rose
December 13, 2008 12:05 am


For one reason, Pollan has said he wouldn’t take the job. Read his comment at the bottom of this article:


December 13, 2008 12:16 am

Sally Fallon’s piece from last year, A Open Letter to Michael Pollan, provides an interesting perspective. Pollan would not be perfect, but it’s hard to imagine who would, considering the history of the position. I apologize if this has been posted already, but there are some interesting people suggested here (and a petition that is getting a lot of circulation).

Amanda Rose
December 13, 2008 7:22 am


Re: the change in the federal register on colostrum, donde esta?


An Observer
December 13, 2008 10:37 am

"I know of many male consumers that have told me that our raw milk and or raw colostrum has been a sexual viagra….and that their male anatomy finnally works after years at half mast…there wives also report that their level of health and sexual interest has been rejuvinated."

Wow, that sounds like a close relationship between a farmer and his/her customers. Can you enlarge on the details? lol – the visual of someone buying milk, experiencing a "difference," then making a phone call to the milk producer to describe it is….priceless.

Amanda Rose
December 13, 2008 12:06 pm

I wonder how much milk it would take to have that effect. Forget about the asthma study, Mark. This is the study you need to do. It might be easier to get it past a human subjects review too.

Amanda Rose
December 13, 2008 12:30 pm

You might even win over the regulators. Just a thought…

An Observer
December 13, 2008 12:45 pm


Good idea. This gets old:

Mark McAfee
December 13, 2008 3:00 pm

The change of rules for colostrum appears in the federal register in 2007. I do not have the link right now. Gary Cox was able to find it. This discovery shocked me and changed my entire approach to CFR 1240.61. It is clear to me that the the FDA custom made this change for OPDC.

As far as how close OPDC is to its customers….we are extremely close. We get calls every day about every thing.

I have had porn stars call and ask about raw cream and its lubricating qualities….

I have had people call and ask every medical… Read more »

Amanda Rose
December 13, 2008 4:31 pm


Don’t be such a tease. What did you tell the porn star? Have you gotten any placement in films that we may have otherwise too distracted to notice?

I simply can’t imagine what The Observer is implying with that YouTube video but perhaps David will analyze it in his book.


An Observer
December 13, 2008 6:28 pm


It is "hard* being a regulator. That video clearly depicts the problem with airport screening,. and that was pre-911

"I have had porn stars call and ask about raw cream and its lubricating qualities…."

Mark, that’s excellent. The porn industry is very proactive in signage and prophylaxis. Per the idea for discussion thrown out a couple posts ago, how would you like the pathogen warning signs to look on your website and dairy case doors?

Concerned Person
December 13, 2008 8:39 pm

Now that Marks market is limited to only California, maybe hes on to something to help grow his business. His new target audience can be older men. His slogan can be, We can help each other grow. This might help increase his business to one million customersa dream come true.

Chas Geoffrey
December 13, 2008 10:43 pm

Has anyone else bumped into this: nais

It’s a comment thread on the transition team site. There is an opportunity vote for ideas you think are important. In less than a week since the Stop NAIS thread was started it has risen to the #3 spot. It would not take a lot more votes to get it into #1. I hope folks around here take an interest.

Maybe an investigation of how these types of "grassroots participation" effect politics and how they are used to shape public opinion would be interesting.


Amanda Rose
December 14, 2008 12:54 am

CP and Observer – you guys are out of control. Clearly this needs to be a slogan contest, but it would probably be best hosted at the Haphazard Gourmet Girls blog (the only food blog so far to leave me blushing).

Dave Milano
December 14, 2008 12:58 am

Change? Humbug! If you think Obama hasn’t built up a very significant debt of his own (and I don’t mean monetary) on his decades-long journey to the White House, think again. And in these pre-inauguration days, as Obama welcomes back home the Clinton administration, we might ponder the potential effects of his greatest debt–the one to the system that got him there; the one that puts words into his mouth like those David so rightly points to: "I understand your distaste for unnecessary federal regulations. At the same time, the FDA has a responsibility to provide consumer protection.

Don Wittlinger
December 14, 2008 2:58 am

Dave I dont think we can leave out the monetary aspect. I cant remember the exact number but it may have been close to $200 million dollars that was donated to this UNKNOWNS run for the presidency. Who did that and what do they want in return for that huge sum of money. A return to a Constitutional Republic or just more of the same?

Dave Milano
December 14, 2008 5:24 am

Don, I surely agree! Any way you cut it, the change we’re most likely to see is a tweaking adjustment of a huge machine, accompanied by an overwhelming tide of rhetorical hoohah, followed by a partisan citizenry’s blind accord.

It’s hard to see a way out of this mess. Establishment politicians won’t kill the beast, and non-establishment candidates can’t.

But hey, God undoubtedly loves us, and we still have our families and friends and neighbors, and our smart farmers, and our gardens, and our pastured cows, pigs, and chickens. That will make for a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 14, 2008 5:50 am

Starting at the end of page 22, if I was a man, I’d take my chances with raw milk. The risks of the raw milk appear so much less than the risk of the drug. I wonder how often the MD searches for a reason men have ED? Or do they just hand out pills? I had read years ago, that many men have ED because the arteries are clogging in the groin, and that may be one of the earlier signs of CAD.

john d
December 14, 2008 10:57 am


Nice idea, but have you noticed that the Haphazard Gourmet Girls seem to be opposed to the idea of widespread legalization of raw milk, so I somehow doubt they’d be a party to helping promote it, even though the contest and theme promises to be a lot of fun.

Or maybe they would.


Amanda Rose
December 14, 2008 1:29 pm


Surely the opportunity to laugh knows no food philosophy boundaries. It’s certainly been a great day for entertaining emails on my end. Just on this blog we have Concerned Person coming up with a slogan and the smart money is that he or she avoids it.

I was thinking Mark was over the top with this claim and then started reflecting on his colostrum product (and here I mean the actual colostrum product, not the "super leche" that also says it’s colostrum). With three pints of that a week I worked 100+ hour weeks for nearly four months. Now… Read more »

An Observer
December 14, 2008 2:48 pm

"So, John, contest on your blog?"

Okay, passed this slogan idea around, and got some juicy suggestions. They keep coming, but here’s a taste – Amanda, good thought to find a place to put everyone’s exciting slogan ideas. Also, a question came up for the cattle folks on the blog: is there a similar effect on the calves, or is this a human-specific "benefit" from raw milk/colostrum consumption?

Raw Milk: Bring it Up!
Raw Milk: It’s a Stretch!
Raw Colostrum: Extend Yourself!

Amanda Rose
December 14, 2008 10:40 pm
john d
December 14, 2008 11:15 pm


So it seems the HGGs just couldn’t resist your great idea. Actually this could be the best way yet to gain converts to raw milk. Just imagine seeing these kinds of slogans (with matching pictures, of course) on billboards around the city. And TV testimonials from famous porn stars. We’d be approaching what, in the PR industry, they might call "deep saturation".

Wanting to be healthy only works for a minority of the population, but sex appeals to everyone.


Dave Milano
December 15, 2008 12:35 am

Okay, so now maybe I’ll have to alter my pessimistic opinion on the chance for meaningful improvements in the availability of raw milk. Politicians are obviously not the only organs for change.

Amanda Rose
December 15, 2008 3:37 am


Thank you everyone for the entertainment. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried. I hope laughter gets labor started because I have this baby on the inside that I am about ready to pull out myself.