Industry-Regulator Pile-on at Trautman Farm in WI May Offer Us a Peek Into Next Phase of Raw Milk War

Scott Trautman and family. Among the array of tactics the federal-state regulatory authorities have trotted out in their war on raw milk—sting operations, harassment, questionable pathogen findings, legal initiatives—one potentially devastating tactic has remained on the sidelines: getting the dairy processors involved. The reason processors hold so much leverage is that nearly all raw dairies sell at least some of their milk to dairy co-ops and private companies that pasteurize and Trautdistribute the milk products to dairies. Now, in Wisconsin, Scott Trautman, owner of the Trautman Family Farm, has been cut off by both state authorities (by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection from selling raw milk) and his processor (from selling milk for pasteurization), leaving him to dump up to 40 gallons of milk each day.

The reason the processor cut-off is such a problem is that in the dairy industry, unlike most other industries, there is little competition among processors. This helps explain why conventional milk prices are so low, and dairy processor profits so high. If you part company with your processor, you’ll be lucky if you find one other processor in your region, and very often, like in the case of Scott Trautman, you won’t find any.

What makes this situation especially ironic is that the whole melee seems to have resulted over safety…and it continues over safety.  Trautman says  he complained in August that the processing organization handling his milk–Foremost Farms USA, which is under the umbrella of the National Farmers Organization—weren’t using effective safety. For example, he  complainted that he was left with an unclean bulk tank because of the processor’s extraction problems.

According to an article in The Country Today, Foremost and NFO officials attribute their cutoff of Trautman to his sale of raw milk. Selling raw milk is illegal in Wisconsin, but has been tolerated over the years, and hundreds of dairies in the state are understood to sell it.

This is the first case I’ve heard of where processors have used the excuse that they don’t want to be tainted by a dairy’s raw milk sales to jettison the dairy. Everywhere else, even in places where the raw milk issue has been fought very hard, like New York and Pennsylvania, processors have continued to deal with raw dairy producers.

Trautman isn’t bending under the twin assaults on his livelihood. “They’re not getting the best of me,” he told me yesterday. “I’m trying to rally our raw milk producers in this state to form a raw milk producers group.”

High on  the group’s agenda: raw milk safety. “I’m looking especially closely at the Vermont law” just put into effect this year, which spells out specific safety specifications, yet offers dairies flexibility in how they achieve the specifications. “I want us (in Wisconsin) to say we consider ourselves under Vermont law.”

He encourages other Wisconsin dairy farmers to go public with their raw milk sales. “They (DATCP) say they investigate every case of selling raw milk. Let them investigate us all. They can come and lock me up. Put me away.”

He adds that in his view this isn’t a health issue. “This is less about raw milk and more about family farms and freedom to choose.”

Scott Trautman and his family has been in the dairy business for only two years. “We started with two cows, then four cows, and so forth,” he says. Now he has 25 cows on seventy acres.

He notes that while he sells other products besides raw milk, it’s the raw milk that brings customers back to his farm repeatedly to buy things like beef, pork, and eggs.

He also notes that it’s curious that DATCP and the processor both came after him at about the same time in September.

So what’s the problem with processors cutting off raw dairy producers? For starters, there are laws on the books that prohibit this kind of behavior—they have names like  “restraint of trade” and “racketeering.” These are practices that were supposedly stopped in the early 1900s to protect smaller businesses from being bullied by monopolies or near-monopolies. Who’s protecting whom, now?

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16 Comments on "Industry-Regulator Pile-on at Trautman Farm in WI May Offer Us a Peek Into Next Phase of Raw Milk War"

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Anna Wright
November 3, 2009 5:33 am

We just got your new book in the mail and(im the youghest) im already on page 13. I really like your new book and this blog.God Bless You!

Mark McAfee
November 3, 2009 5:38 am

Bob and Amanda,

I apologize for my misstatement. Amanda has it right and I made a mistake when I stated my facts.

Lets get it right one more time….we have never ever outsourced for any of our bottled raw milk!!

We have outsourced for some raw milk to make butter and raw cheese. Our last load of this type of raw milk was last March 2009. Both raw cheese and raw butter are not tested for pathogens becuase they are class 4a and 4b manufacturing products. These two raw dairy products are not subject to the coliform limits… Read more »

Bob "BubbaBozo" Hayles
November 3, 2009 6:49 am

A question for one of the few good lawyers that frequent here (NOT the BFPS).

Since the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO Act or RICO) is a federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization, and since it appears that the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection AND the dairy processors are colluding to kill raw milk by cutting off farmers at both ends, and since these actions appear to involve restraint of trade violations,… Read more »

Ron Klein
November 3, 2009 8:34 am

Bob et al. I’ve often heard of the Milk Processors Associations referred to as the "Milk Mafia", but never made the connection with RICO :>)

Probably need to look more at US Competition Law, or antitrust and the unfair trade practices that include restraint of trade, price fixing and the like.

I suppose the arrogance of power and control is behind continuing activities that may bring them further into the spotlight of "anti-trust" given pending lawsuits and anticipated actions of the Justice Department. Google "antitrust milk processors."

There are some interesting articles on milk processors and anti trust:

<a… Read more »

Mark McAfee
November 3, 2009 8:53 am

My advice to the Trautman’s

Hold close to your raw milk consumers. They are your parachute in this freefall.

In 2002 Organic Valley did the same thing to OPDC. They cut us off when they found out we were competing with them at Wholefoods by selling our raw milk in a competing brand on the same dairy case. They have UHT dead milk and we had organic living raw milk. They hated that and dropped us on our heads. We depended on our customers to pick up the slack and for a very short period we sold come excess… Read more »

Tim wightman
November 3, 2009 10:19 am

To Mark and all other concerned…
And there lies the problem we have seen too many times outside of California…
The parachute we thought we could depend on was a rude departing gift of kleenex & bandaids..all the while the ground becomes ever closer and we make do.
The habit of the next fool mentality of many raw milk drinkers has got to stop.
Wether in the way we are asked to produce milk for the misunderstood practices of a good author..or the evaporation of the consumers when the State calls and collars a caretaker who is simply performing and job for the… Read more »

Bob "BubbaBozo" Hayles
November 3, 2009 10:29 am

Geeze…it’s sooo tempting…but no…I better sit with this one for a while first…

Bob Hayles

Mark McAfee
November 3, 2009 10:30 am

Right-On Brother Tim….golden words.


November 3, 2009 2:42 pm

Off topic, but a response to Sylvia about the proposed raw oyster ban:

1. The problem involves raw gulf coast oysters, especially those produced during the warmer months when the risk of contamination with Vibrio vulnificus is higher; it does not involve raw oysters from the west coast
2. The State of California banned raw Gulf Coast oysters in 2003.
3. Almost all of the deaths from Vibrio vulnificus linked to raw gulf coast oysters have been among immunocompromised individuals, specifically individuals suffering from liver cirrhosis/alcoholism, diabetes, and other chronic health problems; most of those that died from… Read more »

Bob "BubbaBozo" Hayles
November 3, 2009 10:14 pm

Lykke, your post about the oysters hits home with me, and demonstrates EXACTLY why laws against oysters…and raw milk…should be thrown out.

You see, I fit the description of the likely raw oyster victim perfectly with the exception being that I am not Hispanic.

I AM an alcoholic…by the grace of God a recovering alcoholic, but an alcoholic just the same.

I DO have a compromised liver…a fairly high amount of liver damage actually. I spent a few months earlier this year on a transplant waiting list, told I would die within a year without a new liver, until my liver… Read more »

Concerned Person
November 4, 2009 10:21 am


Do you really think people are going to believe my classes of raw milk sometimes get crossed up excuse? Please spare us the pathetic cover-up story.

In retrospect, I dont suppose revelations of outsourcing for non-fluid dairy products should come as a big surprise. After all in a press release following the Organic Pastures 2007 listeria recall of cream, Mark said very clearly If OPDC can not source raw cream from outside, our raw cream and butter would be in extremely short supply and rarely available. The statement does however make one wonder how Mark… Read more »

Concerned Person
November 4, 2009 11:17 am

Part III: What is a recovery? The final segment of the Mari Tardiff story.

I would encourage everyone to read it.


November 4, 2009 11:49 am

Regardless of which side of the "raw milk debate" you’re on, this story is worth reading. "Gordon" on a raw milk listserve even described it as "important reading for advocates of REAL MILK…"

Link to all 3 parts:

Mark McAfee
November 4, 2009 2:09 pm


I certainly hope you feel better now. The entire story is told and out in the open. FYI….It has always been out in the open and never a secret….so I have no idea what you are trying to accomplish with the repeated and continual unearthing and rebarial of old information. CDFA controls the management of our purchasing of class four milk and movement of all raw milk. We must report it to them and they have no problem at all with anything we have done in the past.

Just to make it official one more time….OPDC does not… Read more »

Mark McAfee
November 4, 2009 2:17 pm


Your email link to Cardif is very heart wrenching and thought provoking. I am so very glad she seems to be on the mend.

Every year untold numbers of people become very sick and many die after taking the flu vaccine and other government suggested vaccinations. This is all dismissed and tolerated as a side effect of a vaccination system that helps far more people than it hurts.

Lykke and CP….why is this a foreign idea to you when applied to raw milk. 5000 kids die every year of Asthma when treated properly with drugs. When… Read more »

November 12, 2009 1:03 pm


One of Steve Bemis’ 11 Great Thoughts involved exemptions for small farmers. Making that workable (in the context that there is no exemption from food safety), involves personal responsibility by the farmer and the consumer. Know your farmer, know your food only works with honesty. The continued dishonesty by raw milk leaders argues against this model. Saying that "big ag" does bad things doesn’t change the fact that raw milk leaders continue to mislead consumers (in order to sell their product?). Its a stretch to embrace the possibly logical argument about exemptions or scaled regulation when… Read more »