Red Ribbon Isn’t All That’s Missing from Fed’s Package Against PA Farmer; WI Farmer Seeks to Promote His Sheriff

When you go to buy a car or insurance, the sales people nearly instantaneously print out all the documentation you need. All you have to do is sign on the bottom line. No need to bother with all the fine print.

Well, the U.S. Department of Justice has kind of done the same thing in its prosecution of Pennsylvania dairy farmer Dan Allgyer, on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA announced last April that it planned to seek the permanent injunction, as the outcome of its more than year-long “undercover” investigation of a Maryland food club.

In this instant-injunction package, there’s the cover page with the authoritative Department of Justice emblem (shown here, unfortunately screwing up the splashy cover by misspelling Allgyer’s name); the government’s formal motion for summary judgment, including the list of ten lawyers and big-wig bureaucrats from the DofJ and the FDA presumably involved in this high-priority case; the 19-page memorandum in support of the government’s motion; a six-page statement of “undisputed facts”; and then the “order of permanent injunction”. All the U.S. District Court judge on the case, Lawrence Stengler, needs to do, is sign and date the “order”…and, presto,  Allgyer is forever prohibited from sending milk to members of Grassfed on the Hill in Maryland…and essentially is out of business.  

Actually, he doesn’t just get to be put out of business. The proposed injunction provides for the added privilege of having his farm inspected whenever FDA agents are bored or just have the urge, AND he gets to pay big time for the privilege (at rates of $87.57 or $104.96 per hour, plus 51 cents a mile for their travel, plus the regular government “per diem” for meals and hotels). One inspection that lasts a day or two, and involves two or three agents, who, of course, have to write up a detailed report afterwards, could cost $10,000. Maybe they decide to do it once a year, maybe once a month, maybe once a week. Whatever their pleasure.

At the end of five years, Allgyer can tell the court he’s been a good boy, and appeal to have the injunction lifted, and maybe it will be and maybe it won’t. If not, the inspection arrangement continues.

The government lawyers argue that, based on the “undisputed facts” of the case–that Allgyer was distributing raw milk to the Grassfed on the Hill food club in Maryland–the judge should issue the permanent injunction.

The most interesting part of the whole neatly wrapped package is the argument in the memorandum in support of the government’s motion, that members of a private association are engaged in commerce and are subject to the interstate ban on raw milk. Neither the federal agencies nor their regulations “recognize an exception to the prohibited conduct based on the nature of the contractual arrangement between the distributor and consumer of unpasteurized milk or between so-called ‘private’ consumers and the general public. In broad and unequivocal terms (the prohibition on interstate raw milk shipments) bans the interstate delivery, sale, or distribution of pasteurized milk in final package form for direct human consumption.”

In a footnote, the government’s brief observes: “Although no federal court has yet addressed whether private membership association or cow-share arrangements violate federal law, a few state courts have addressed these issues in the context of state laws banning intrastate sales of unpasteurized milk.” As its only example, the footnote cites the Wisconsin decision last August (and introduces it as an exhibit) that concluded in part that a herdshare arrangement there was “purposely designed to avoid cash sales of dairy products in an attempt to circumvent” state law.

Interestingly, the government’s brief neglects to mention the 2006 Ohio case that sanctioned herdshare arrangments. Presumably, the federal lawyers knew about the case, because they referred to “a few state courts” that have addressed the issue. Strange oversight, that the Ohio case isn’t mentioned.  

And because “performance of these agreements would violate federal law…the contracts are unenforceable…” concludes the government brief.

There is another oversight in the government’s “statement of undisputed facts” in the case. It reports that “over the course of the investigation, 12 samples were sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. All of the samples were confirmed to be unpasteurized milk.”

What the “statement of undisputed facts” neglects to mention is that the independent laboratory checked for the presence of four major pathogens–listeria monocytogenes, E.coli O157:H7, salmonella, and campylobacter–and everything came out negative. I know because I obtained the lab tests via a Freedom of Information Act request.

As an aside, the lab tests also show some seemingly high results for coliforms…from a low of 38 to “greater than” 160,000. The coliform counts are way above the legal limits specified in some states; for example, California requires raw milk to be at less than 10 coliforms per milliliter. Coliforms are harmless bacteria, and the counts are thought to be reflective of overall sanitation, and milk quality. I am told by food club members who drink the milk that the Allgyer milk tastes excellent and usually lasts up to a couple of weeks.

The fact that no pathogens were found over an extended period of testing was no doubt a big disappointment to the FDA. Definitely not worth alerting the judge to, from the FDA’s viewpoint.

Allgyer now needs to try to convince the judge not to sign on the dotted line. Like many Amish who face legal challenges, he is representing himself…up against the full judicial firepower of the United States government.


Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger reports he was just served with the summons to appear in court January 4, following the reports yesterday of the criminal complaint. He will be answering to four misdemeanor charges of violating Wisconsin dairy and retailing laws.

Hershberger is the farmer who, a year-and-a-half ago, cut the tape placed on his farm’s coolers by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and returned to serving his 150 or so food club members.

In the meantime, he is seeking to gain the support of his county’s sheriff. He has offered to send the sheriff to a national convention of up to 200 county sheriffs being in Las Vegas next month. He says he has already raised the funds necessary to send the sheriff, Chip Meister, to the convention, and is now trying to convince him to attend.

He has put together a petition, which can be easily filled out and returned to Hershberger. In addition, or alternatively, Hershberger is encouraging supporters to call the sheriff and encourage him to attend the conference, and ensure that Hershberger’s rights are respected during any criminal proceedings. Here is what Hershberger suggests: “Call or email Sauk County Sherriff Chip Meister at, or 608-355-3208. Please be very courteous and respectful in your message or speech. Just let him know that you are supporting him fully if he stands up against the State to protect the Hershberger Family. I will stress it again, be courteous and respectful, he is our family’s friend and we want to keep it that way!”

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37 Comments on "Red Ribbon Isn’t All That’s Missing from Fed’s Package Against PA Farmer; WI Farmer Seeks to Promote His Sheriff"

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Sylvia Gibson
December 10, 2011 10:07 pm

Sounds like they are being subjected to witch hunts and the govt is planning to slowly burn all dissenters.

Shana Milkie
December 10, 2011 11:29 pm

I know we go around and around on this – but why are the stakes so high that the FDA is going to such lengths to persecute small farmers? Sylvia's term "witch hunt" is apt here.

I hope Mr. Allyger and Mr. Hershberger prevail. They are brave people and it's terrible that they have to go through this wringer by our own government.

damaged justice
December 11, 2011 1:18 am

Unsurprising. Farmers are a far easier target for the state, both legally and in a practical, logistic, strategic sense. The message is clear: Dare to share with your neighbor — let alone be tainted with any whiff of "commerce" without letting Uncle Enzo wet his beak — and you will be denied even the right to provide for yourself and your family. Surely a stubborn few will respond, as some here have suggested, by acquiring their own cow or goat when cut off from any and all outside sources — and thus is another of the state's twofold goals… Read more »

The Complete Patient
December 11, 2011 1:21 am

There are a few things going on, apart from the FDA's ongoing war on raw milk. For one, the FDA wants to scare producers of raw dairy. By coming down hard on a few (remember the email where the agent says they want to string them up one at a time), they hope to send a message to many.

Second, and more immediate, the FDA is worried about the growing popularity of the private food system. That has nothing to do with raw milk, but everything to do with control of the food system. The FDA wants to… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 11, 2011 2:35 am

"(remember the email where the agent says they want to string them up one at a time)"

Tis a witch hunt. They even put it in writing.

Beware, they are still pushing for NAIS… Push out the small farmers and guess who controls what you eat and the environment you live in…..

Sylvia Gibson
December 11, 2011 5:47 am

If you read the comments on this link in regards to the cookie dough and consumption of it raw, you'll get the general idea of how the masses think/view their foods.

I guess these same people either don't read all the ingredients or they just don't care what goes into their bodies.

Like many, I grew up eating raw cookie dough (home made), cake batter, rare beef, hamburger and mystery meats/foods in Istanbul, I ate street foods in Europe. I didn't get sick then, though, I did get sick from eating at a boyscout… Read more »

Deborah Peterson
December 11, 2011 10:33 am

Yes, Sylvia, it is an absolute shame that people do not educate themselves about the foods that they buy from the standard grocery stores. They have no clue what that product contains, let alone, how that product was made. People have become too too comfortable with the unhealthy conveniences from these stores. Personally, I would never, ever eat anything raw that came from a mega-factory, processing facility. Fresh homemade cookie dough? Oh YES, absolutely, no question about it (I have been doing so for 60 yrs)!! The ingredients are NOT necessarily the problem (unless they… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 11, 2011 3:10 pm


If I may interject here, I do not think the issue is "private" clubs (which are really now selling to the general public, for all practical purposes)

I think the issue is that we are trying to develop an alternative food system, which our corporate masters do not want to deal with.

"Bankers are the dictators of the West"

Ingvar Odegaard
December 11, 2011 4:41 pm

re. your comment above, what is your definition of


general public

practical purpose


kirsten weiblen
December 11, 2011 11:15 pm


I disagree with your comment that private buying clubs essentially sell to the public. Since I am a seasonal milker, I have stopped in to buy milk at a couple of local buying clubs in past winters. They categorically refused to sell any milk to me as a non-member – even when I offered to sign up and pay the fee right away. Carelessness and greed are not their hallmark in my experience.

I am somewhat cautious in support of the Freedom Riders in that they seem only to address the issue of interstate commerce. While interstate commerce is a… Read more »

The Complete Patient
December 12, 2011 12:09 am

I would disagree as well about your characterization of private food clubs. As Kirsten points out, many clubs are very restrictive in their membership criteria. As I pointed out recently in reviewing John Moody's new book on food clubs, he provides advice to organizers about interviewing techniques to ensure only those truly interested in and committed to obtaining nutrient-dense foods are allowed to join (and government agents, for example, kept out).

But there are two issues raised by the FDA in its case against Dan Allgyer. First, can any food club, no matter how "private," be outside the public… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 12, 2011 1:17 am

Good points, David, but I still maintain that this promotion of "private clubs" as the solution to the prohibition of raw milk is the wrong route to take. Its a slippery slope. Should these so-called "private clubs" be allowed to discriminate against people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc…? Should they be allowed to spew toxins into the environment, and be exempt from environmental protection laws? There are numerous other examples, if you to think about it.

Sure, you can point to the example of the boy scouts (who are exempted from anti-discrimination laws,… Read more »

Jan Steinman
December 12, 2011 2:12 am

This makes me so incredibly angry.

They will fine people like Allgyer and Schmidt into submission, using the same fees and fines that fall under "petty cash" for corporate farms.

The US (at least) is headed for a "perfect storm" in the confluence of unemployment, concentration of wealth and power at the top, and economic persecution of those at the bottom. We left the US for Canada because we wanted to live a simple life, and saw <b>no support</b> for such in the US. I fear armed insurrection is the inevitable result — it's only a matter of "when," not "if."

If… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 12, 2011 2:16 am

Sorry, a correction to my above post:

This does NOT mean I'm endorsing the FDA's crackdown…

that was a typo

Jan Steinman
December 12, 2011 2:26 am

Bill, I understand your reluctance to embrace "private clubs" as *the* means of allowing access to raw milk.

I think it needs to be stretched to the point of "collective ownership." I agree that, for example, Costco is a "private club," and it would be a long shot in many states to argue that Costco should be able to distribute raw milk outside the purview of the FDA or state health departments.

When we first formed our herd-share, I ran it by our lawyer, who was apoplectic about the implications, saying the courts could liken it to a magazine subscription.

So while… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 12, 2011 3:38 am


I like your way of thinking. I'm not convinced that the religious right is necessarily a friend of religious freedom, though. Many of them have drummed up hate against Islam. However, there is evidence that some evangelical Christians are slowly starting to split from the Republican Party because of the Bush administration's crimes against humanity.

If we found "Foodology", it should be an agnostic religion, like Buddhism.

Ken Conrad
December 12, 2011 7:12 am


The word agnostic is used to describe someone who is doubtful or noncommittal about something. What do you mean by "an agnostic religion?

It seems apparent that those who purchase raw milk and other whole natural foods have little doubt about its value and their commitment to such foods is growing stronger by the day.


Gordon Watson
December 12, 2011 8:36 am

here in BC, we're an inch closer to REAL MILK being de-criminalized after the farce of Dec 6th. When we do prevail, there will still be a place for herdshares, because they offer a special benefit of assured supply to the members of the private club. As long as that club don't go asking permission from the govt. to exercise our right to associate with whomsoever we want – or NOT – then we don't fall under Big Sister's iron heel.

pretending to be a "liberal" whilst getting all exercised and paranoid about us who discriminate according… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 12, 2011 11:34 am

Hi Gordon,

To answer your question — because I'd rather be fighting for democracy and social justice HERE in America, where it is needed more badly than anywhere else in the world right now. My ancestors who settled in here Wisconsin were German and Scandanvians, both cultures with strong traditions of democratic socialism. Milwaukee is the only city in the US to have had two socialist mayors.

As for the "central planners"… those must be the capitalist banking interests you are talking about. Most of the so-called founding fathers were slave holders and bankers. Thomas Paine… Read more »

Ken Conrad
December 12, 2011 9:44 pm


Perhaps from your perspective one should maintain skepticism of the existence of a god Indeed skepticism is a natural and purposeful trait and although I have experienced my share of it I have personally chosen to believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Christianity made inroads into Europe because of the selfless philosophy it espoused. Paul and Peter entered Rome, not with a sword but with a belief and an understanding of the truth that would set one free.

Indeed the movement became politicalized and oppressive. There were a great many people persecuted, including those who truly followed Christs example.… Read more »

John Moody
December 12, 2011 10:06 pm


"And clearly, these clubs aren't all that private if FDA agents are so easily able to infiltrate them."

Given that these agents have dozens of years experience, the vast wealth and resources of forced extortion to deploy at their command at any time, multiple other agencies to draw from and upon, and specific training in engaging in such activities, your remarks show a genuine lack of thought, and the whips of their ex-corporate croonie heads driving them, your comments bear considerable revision at best, or show an unwillingness to look at the situation with a bit more objectivity at least.… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 12, 2011 10:21 pm


I am very well informed on the history of government repression of dissident elements in the United States. It does not surprise me in the least that the government expends resources ferreting out raw milk distributors. In fact, the repression of raw milk clubs is small game compared to some of the other groups which the state has targeted over the years. The radical labor union which belong to (the Industrial Workers of the World) had over a milliion members in the early 1920s, and was completely destroyed by the FBI headed by J Edgar Hoover.

Just… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 12, 2011 10:40 pm

Stories like this make farming appear quite lucrative. Also sounds like most farmers have huge amounts of farming land, whether rented or owned…… more media misrepresenting what reality is not.

I picked strawberries and tomatoes long before I was 16 in Ca…. I learned that those 2 field jobs were not what I wanted to do the rest of my life and it pushed me to further my education. That and cleaning stalls at the stables taught me to appreciate those who do hard physical labor. (mucking stalls was ok,… Read more »

Mary Martin
December 12, 2011 11:22 pm

Happy Birthday David!

Cheyenne Christianson
December 12, 2011 11:49 pm


It's a pretty far stretch to associate Jesus Christ's giving, healing, helping, etc. to your commie/socialist force, with a gun if necessary, to support gigantic bureaucracies with an agenda, and waste beyond comprehension.You completely miss Christ's message. FREELY give! No one held a gun to his head, and he wasn't using other people's money. I suppose you could count the tithe, but that was also FREELY given, for that purpose.

New American Standard Bible Mathew 25
35For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a… Read more »

Ken Conrad
December 13, 2011 1:06 am


Catholicism has its merits however do not attempt to equate Catholic doctrine with Christianity. I gave up on Catholic doctrine when I was in my early forties and became a Christian.

A Christians greatest threat is temptation and vice. There are numerous oppressive forces at work in this world designed to undermine Christian virtue. C. S. Lewis sums it up well, Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.


Nourish Yourself
December 13, 2011 2:11 am

I grew up Catholic as well and knew deep in my heart in my younger years something wasn't quite right with it (same with conventional medicine). It wasn't until my divorce that God hit me on the head with a 2X4 and opened my eyes to the truth. Jesus told Nicodemus (a member of the ruling council and teacher of the law) in the famous "Nick at night" passage in John 3 about being born again. That is what happened to me in January 1989 – He opened my eyes to the true spiritual food.

Google Voice… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 13, 2011 4:15 am

"I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" -Jesus Christ

Based on my reading of that passage, it sounds like Christ was talking about class warfare.

Cheyenne, I do not support "gigantic bureaucracies with an agenda", at all. I have no idea where I've ever suggested I support those things. As a sociailst, I recognize that the liberation of the oppressed must be act of the oppressed themselves. A bureaucracy cannot bring about liberation or an end to oppression.

As for the question of taxes and government spending taken by force, I think Christ's advice was… Read more »

The Complete Patient
December 13, 2011 4:17 am

Thanks Mary…I'm at a point I try not to think too much about birthdays, if you know what I mean.

Also, would like to second John Moody's comment about private food clubs. This country is about "private enterprise," and the private enterprises come in all kinds of forms. For the most part, they organize and operate according to how the owners and organizers decide. They allow in those they want as owners, stakeholders, members. There is something distinctly American about the approach.

But we underwent a shift somewhere during the last 50 years, and the move toward fear-mongering and… Read more »

Deborah Stockton
December 13, 2011 4:42 am

Bill Anderson is right in his statements from a previous post, I think the issue is that we are trying to develop an alternative food system, which our corporate masters do not want to deal with, and "Bankers are the dictators of the West."

TPTB banksters, for decades, have used the natural antipathy between countryside and city. The city laborer wants a low price and is fearful of increasing cost to his well being. The countryside the farmer does not earn a wage. He doesnt get a paycheck from an employer. His earned income… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 13, 2011 6:26 am

Deb Stockton hit the nail on the head in her first paragraph. The US elites try to leverage urban wage earners against rural farmers. Its a divide and conquer strategy.

I disagree with you, David. American capitalism is built upon corporations, which are public enterprises, not private enterprises.

Corporations are chartered by the government, granted special privileges which include limited liability. In the earliest days of the Republic, a corporation could have its charter revoked if it was deemed that it was not serving the public interest, and these corporations were granted protection from foreign competition in… Read more »

Cheyenne Christianson
December 13, 2011 9:32 am


Your "meager" social welfare programs don't qualify as bureaucracy? LOL! And you say it's helping. By creating generations of helpless, demanding, welfare addicts? By ripping apart many innocent families to feed the CPS machine, only to find out that masses of those children are being sexually abused and other horrible things. Two wrongs don't make a right. Large corporations and complicit government agencies are, and always have been a problem, but so is the corrupt government bureaucracy you seem to like so much.

You supported the unions (they're not corrupt big $$$$$?) in the nutso fest in WI,… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 13, 2011 10:02 am


You are totally out of touch with the political realities in our seat of government. The unions are a drop in the bucket of what big business spends. The ratio is pennies to the dollar, even on strictly the Democratic Party side.

Crack cocaine was introduced to the inner city by the CIA. This fact is well documented. It is not the welfare programs that created this problem, it is the military-industrial complex.

I have argued stridently against the Madison area Green Party getting involved in the recall Walker effort, because we should be focusing on ecological… Read more »

Cheyenne Christianson
December 13, 2011 10:27 am

As I expected. The unions are just "drop in the bucket" corruption, so it's ok. I'm just supposed to keep throwing money down that rat hole. I am opposed to ALL corruption.

Oh no, the hate card. When all else fails…… Bill's favorite tactic. Don't respond then. I'm not forcing you to write back. lol

I didn't say you would have to support the club, It's called FREEDOM! But, I suspect you'd like to see government bureaucracies with an agenda force your twisted view on the rest of us.

Bill Anderson
December 13, 2011 11:54 am

The IWW has a critique of the conservative trade unions. I agree with you that they can be corrupt. The conservative/chauvinistic trade unions are more interested in protecting privileges for a skilled set of workers than in organizing the entire working class.

Cheyenne, I don't like you putting words in my mouth. I do believe that people are capable of overcoming racism and homophobia without government intervention. If anything, it is the government which (directly or indirectly) upholds racism. However, when oppressive institutions like organized religion and corporate powers divide us against one another, overcoming… Read more »

Joelie Hicks
December 13, 2011 1:40 pm

i am not a fan of conventional medicine, I try to have a bar-code free kitchen, I drink raw milk.
I try to treat people with kindness no matter who they are. Although I am not 'rich', I try to share what I have with others.
Oh, and I am a Catholic.
I would never say anything so hurtful about your choice of beliefs or lack of same as some of you have written here.

Bill Anderson
December 13, 2011 10:28 pm

Just to clarify, my comments above were NOT meant to be insults of people's religious practices. I am 100% in favor of religious freedom, and would completely support forming a secular or neo-pagan religion around the consumption of raw milk.

The purpose of my comments is that I am very very worried that certain elements of American Christianity are not in favor of religious freedom for other groups, namely Muslims. This is an ongoing problem in many Western nations, not just ours. I also worry about certain Christian elements (such as Gordon Watson) who justify other bigoted beliefs using the… Read more »