Why Are They Doing This to Us? We’re in “Undeclared War” Over Raw Milk, Says Legal Expert

redcoats1.jpgA few readers have raised simple, innocent questions about the California assault on raw milk that boil down to this: Why are the authorities coming down do hard on a few oddballs producing and drinking unpasteurized milk?


“What is the big deal about people buying raw milk?…What is it that I am not comprehending?” asks Maggie in a comment on my Tuesday posting.


The questions are not unlike what the residents of the original thirteen colonies must have asked about their British masters. “We’re all British. Why are they imposing these crazy rules about taxation and trade on us, confiscating our guns, searching our homes?”


I put Maggie’s questions to Pete Kennedy, a lawyer for the Weston A. Price Foundation, a man in the middle of many of the state and federal cases involving raw milk and, as he sees it, us few oddballs are perceived as a much larger threat than we realize. “It’s like an undeclared war,” he says.


Here are the major underlying forces in that war:


Exploding demand for raw milk. While those of us who value raw milk as an essential part of a healthy diet may see ourselves as just a few oddballs, in actuality the demand is growing like wildfire. No one knows how many people consume raw milk—Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation has estimated it as upwards of half a million—but increasingly farmers who sell directly to consumers are producing at their capacity, and turning away new customers. So if you have a regular supplier of raw milk, consider yourself lucky.


Shifting government tactics. For many years, the federal and local authorities relied on stoking the public’s fear of disease to keep people away from raw milk—putting a damper on the demand side of the equation.


But as increasing numbers of people learn how remote the risks associated with drinking raw milk really are in today’s world, consumers are ignoring the authorities. Indeed, the government warnings seem only to stimulate further demand. “So instead of trying to control the demand, the government is trying to control the supply,” says Kennedy, by harassing farmers so they’ll hopefully become discouraged and go back to the pasteurization routine.


Federal coordination behind the scenes. Kennedy sees the latest assault against raw milk in California as part of a national effort, likely coordinated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “They’ve come up with different tactics. For a while it was listeria. Now it seems to be coliform,” with California being the latest example.


Another part of the assault is to push states with tight regulations on raw milk sales to crack down as raw milk producers expand. Kennedy figures the FDA monitors the Weston A. Price Foundation’s web site directory of raw milk producers, and pushes states to crack down when activity expands.

The latest example is occurring in Missouri. If you look at the realmilk section on Missouri, you’ll see there are about forty producers listed. To the FDA, this is a situation getting out of hand, so the state’s agriculture authorities have presumably been urged to get on the case.


Kennedy says at least half a dozen raw milk dairies have received warning letters from the Missouri State Milk Board telling them they need to obtain permits—after years of ignoring the direct-from-farm sales. But obtaining a permit requires investing significant dollars in a bottling operation, which most raw milk producers can’t afford to do.


These explanations of what is happening still don’t answer the underlying question: Why are they doing this to us?


And here, Pete doesn’t have hard answers. He suspects it comes down to economics, much as it did in Revolutionary War times, and as it does so often today. While raw milk sales are miniscule compared to pasteurized milk sales, the farmers selling raw milk are demonstrating a new dairy farming model that is very appealing to other farmers.


“Raw milk is the gateway to farm prosperity,” he says. Not only can the milk be sold for more than double, and sometimes triple or quadruple, the price paid by dairy cooperatives for milk to be pasteurized, the spinoff products like kefir and yogurt are even more profitable.


Pete suspects the situation will get worse before it gets better. He thinks other states are going  to crack down on raw milk. A key to reversing the situation will be to win a court case like that involving Barbara Smith, the New York farmer challenging the state’s crackdown on her herd ownership arrangement, and take such arrangements outside the purview of state and federal regulators. (To contribute to the legal effort, join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.) 


In 1776, the British empire looked every bit as formidable as the corporate-government empire that continues to tighten its grip of our food supply. The colonists eventually fought a guerrilla war to throw the bums out. We won’t take back our fundamental right to obtain the foods we want via that kind of war, but rather by another kind of guerrilla war—class action suits, court challenges, street protests, resisting farmers, and eventually by overwhelming the system with so much demand that the bureaucrats and elected officials will have to inform their corporate masters there is no choice but to back off and accept the will of the people.

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10 Comments on "Why Are They Doing This to Us? We’re in “Undeclared War” Over Raw Milk, Says Legal Expert"

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November 2, 2007 10:54 pm

I wondered about the real milk site being monitored. I think it should not add farms to it anymore but just have word of mouth do the job. That is how it works on OR. There are a lot more raw milk providers than he registry leads on.

As for why, I think the fact that people are drinking raw milk despite of the warnings against it from the authorities and the health department suggests an epidemic in autonomous thinking and growing education among people. It is raw milk now, what is next? Cholesterol? I can’t wait for people… Read more »

November 3, 2007 12:28 am

"…the farmers selling raw milk are demonstrating a new dairy farming model that is very appealing to other farmers."

Yes! A very compelling way that works with nature instead of against it. As Pasteur said in the end "the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything" Once the fear of every unfamiliar microbe that comes down the pike is relinquished and the whole process is embraced, you’ll make a good product. Better yet, you’ll make it without a lot of unhealthy and expensive petrochemicals in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.

Instead of paying money and going into debt… Read more »

Steve Bemis
November 3, 2007 3:05 am

I’ve been struck often about how many of the regulators who are so virulently opposed to raw milk, will say in an aside, that they drank it as a kid. What’s changed? My theory is that these very regulators KNOW how badly today’s conventional milk requires pasteurization. This means, they KNOW how different, and degraded in quality, and larger in scale, and greater in risk, are the production methods for conventionally pasteurized milk. The KNOW that this is nowhere as clean or healthy a product as the milk they drank as a kid (even years… Read more »

November 3, 2007 3:28 am

I belong to C.A.R.E.-Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Eco-Farming, as do sone of my farmers. They have standards for cleanliness and bacterial counts. This is a PRIVATE club…I pay my dues and the farmers meet the standards. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Most of the farmers will not sell to anyone who does not show their membership card. This model seems to work well……it could probably be replicated elsewhere.

November 3, 2007 3:30 am

Don’t you see how it all ties together? They, being the big government, UN, WTO, etc. don’t want us to make decisions for ourselves. NAIS ties into this. They don’t want people growing their own food and really, if you were to dig down deeper into it you’d see that they don’t even want people to live in rural areas. It suits fascist governments to have the people living in the cities and having to pay high prices for bad food.

They just passed the Thought Crimes bill. The Farm bill is going to pass with a nod to… Read more »

November 3, 2007 6:26 am

Steve, I had to laugh when I read your comment about how dairy farmers choose certain cows to get their milk from. It is true. They get their milk from corrals with the healthiest cows with the least mastitis. Employees on dairies that are still allowed to take home milk do the same thing. I have done… Read more »

November 3, 2007 6:34 am

To control the people you must control the food. This is just the latest in a long line of battles resulting from corporate/government attempts to eliminate small farmers and control our food supply.

November 3, 2007 2:24 pm

It has been known for some time that state D of A’s and the USDA have been monitoring not just the Real Milk site, but many Yahoo groups and similar forums and sites, and I am sure this blog. People report receiving letters, action, withdraw of licenses and such acts of the government frequently after public posts on forums I have belonged to. Raw milk sales have gone underground in a magical sort of way.

What farmer in their right mind would post themselves as a source of raw milk online? What customer would admit to buying it at… Read more »

Michael J. "Mickey" Richard
November 3, 2007 9:18 pm


That’s what our government has been spouting ever since: 9/11? The Cold War? Tainted Spinach? Saddam? Sputnik? The LA Immigrant Demonstrations? The Iranian Revolution? You choose, it’s always something. Keep the populace fearful and you can manipulate them like hand puppets. The few of us who tend to prefer thinking for ourselves are thought of as danger to the whole. Regulate us out of having any validity and everything is just peachy-keen!


My apologies to the choir…

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
November 3, 2007 10:48 pm

In regards to the factory farms, Is it the fact that people are wanting (I hesitate using the word demanding at this time) food products that are chemical free and natural? If the demand becomes stronger, would that force the factory farms to fade away? As there is no way they, in thier present state,could be healthy, for people or the animals.

It seems to me, that too many people believe or expect the "powers that be" to watch out for them. I believe it isn’t us who they look out for, but the huge coorporations. $$$ is the… Read more »