Monday, December 26, 2011

Why is the FDA going after small time raw milk sellers? Corporate greed?

In the past a farmer would buy a cow or two, have milk for his family, and sell any excess to neighbors.  This tradition is under attack from the FDA because of raw milk scares and the supposed urgency to pasteurize everything.

There are a couple risks here.  First, many people see many health benefits from raw milk.  When treated and handled correctly raw milk is safe.  But the FDA knows better, don't they?  And surely they can point to lists of poisonings which occurred from drinking raw milk.  I don't know enough to know how much real concern there is to keep us from having access to raw milk.  Second issue is rather bigger, and has to do with food security especially in the coming years if the expected financial collapse goes the way that's expected.  If our society really does go to a major deep financial collapse it'll be necessary for food security to have local farmers growing food they sell locally, such as harvesting milk for local distribution. 

Dan Brown of Gravelwood Farm :- The State of Maine filed a lawsuit against him for "unlicensed distribution and sale of milk and food products."  Dan Brown is a small-time farmer, owns one cow, produced raw milk for his family and sold excess milk to neighbors.  Brown said in a speech to supporters, "I'm not a milk distributor. I'm a farmer. That's all I've ever wanted to be, it's all I've ever done."

A neighbor of Dan Brown is quoted saying: 
"Much of what the Department does is regulate and oversee specialized operations, whether dairy, poultry, or value-added. By comparison, our model, which has existed in rural communities for a long time, is that of small diversified farms, with some chickens, some pigs and some crops. They didn't understand how our farms worked and what we were doing on ecological principles, promoting animal health so that we could assure safe food."
Commissioner Whitcomb, Maine's Agriculture Commissioner, his grandfather had sold milk in exactly this manner to his neighbors.

The towns in Dan Browns neck of the woods have passed Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinances.  These ordinances permit the sort of sales Brown had been doing.

It's not just Farmer Brown and Maine, there are similar stories around the country.

Maybe it's "progress" to force all milk producers to pasteurize their milk and play along with the big agriculture game.  Or maybe it's unnecessary meddling and unnecessary food processing to force all milk to be pasteurized.  As I said earlier I don't know enough about food safety to know whether pasteurization is the only way to have safe milk.  I have heard raw milk advocates say raw milk, handled correctly, is safe, and is healthier.

What I do know is that food security strongly suggests we must do all we can to support local small-scale farmers as much as possible.



Why Is a Farmer Who Sells Extra Milk From His One Cow to Neighbors Being Sued By the State of Maine?

Regulators Crack Down on Micro-Dairies, But Small Farmers Fight Back With Local Food Sovereignty Ordinances