Those Pesky Amish Criminals

The Amish are known for their forgiving, peaceful, buggy-driving, agrarian ways. To those of us who buy raw milk, the Amish are also some of our least expensive, neighborly suppliers. But criminal? That’s not usually a word we’d use to describe them.

So what brought armed members from three separate government agencies to raid the Pennsylvania farm of Amish farmer Dan Allgyer in the pre-dawn last month? What had them doing a year-long undercover investigation to gather incriminating evidence? Is he a subversive supplier of arms or drugs to the seedy criminal underbelly of Washington D.C.?

Nah. He’s just a farmer selling his milk. Selling it in it’s — GASP! — raw, unpasteurized form.

In this op-ed piece for the Washington Times, Baylen J. Linnekin writes:

The sting operation against Mr. Allgyer’s Rainbow Acres Farm has touched a nerve around the country and across the ideological divide. Mr. Allgyer’s customers – including a soccer mom I know – are outraged. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, took to Twitter recently to blast the raid, calling it a waste of time and resources and mockingly suggesting the FDA would do better to shut down the “many unlicensed lemonade stands” operating around the country. Author David Gumpert, writing at the left-of-center environmental website Grist, wondered whether those who took part in the raid felt “remorse or shame” over this “official effort to deprive people of food.” On May 11, Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, introduced H.R. 1830, the Unpasteurized Milk Bill, which would end the FDA’s ban and permit the sale of raw milk across state lines.

The FDA banned the interstate sale of raw milk in 1987 and has since declared that if such regulation were within its power, it would ban the sale of raw milk altogether. Rather than debate the merits or pitfalls of raw milk, I’d like to share a point Mr. Linnekin made in his op-ed:

Many critics question why the agency concerns itself with raw milk. After all, virtually any food can conceivably contain harmful pathogens – including beef, poultry, pork, seafood, fruits and vegetables. Yet the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) permit the overwhelming majority of these products to be sold in their raw forms. For example, the USDA, which regulates beef, pork and poultry, permits their sale in raw and cooked forms. The FDA, which regulates seafood and eggs, likewise permits those to be sold raw or cooked.

Pathogens are hardly unique to raw food. Just last week, the USDA warned about the risks posed by eating pre-cooked deli meat. The USDA went so far as to urge at-risk populations such as the elderly not to eat sliced turkey, roast beef and other lunch meats unless they first reheat the meat to a “steaming hot” 165 degrees, according to USDA spokesman Neil Gaffney.

Like deli meat, raw foods aren’t some niche market, and buying food in its raw form doesn’t make one part of some underground movement. Anyone who has ever brought home a dozen eggs from a grocer’s shelves has purchased raw food. And once a consumer brings any food home, it’s up to the consumer – not the government – to decide how (or if) he or she wants to cook the food. The notion that the government would ban raw chicken, beef or eggs – or deli meat, for that matter – from store shelves may seem ludicrous. Seen in this context, the current raw milk ban is no less absurd.

Typically, debates about raw milk’s legality deteriorate into statistic wars with each side touting numbers to backup their claims about the health, safety, or risk involved with consuming raw milk. Many also start arguing about anecdotal evidence and scientific studies proving the benefits of raw dairy. But the point that gets lost in all the kerfuffle — the point that Mr. Linnekin made — is that the FDA has no business prohibiting the sale of raw milk when they won’t also prohibit the sale of other, more dangerous, raw foods (like spinach!). Furthermore, if we think it’s ludicrous to ban the sale of raw eggs, why don’t we also think it’s equally as ludicrous to ban the sale of raw milk? What business is it of the FDA’s how we choose to cook (or not cook) our food in the privacy of our own home?

If a warning label on eggs and other raw foods is considered a sufficient means to protect the public, why isn’t a similar warning label on raw milk also considered sufficient? Why must its sale be entirely banned?

Questions. Questions. I’ve still not heard a reasonable answer to these questions.

Have you?


(photo by untitledprojects)

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Comments

  1. Jamison Pollitt via Facebook says

    The amish are criminals. freaking puppy murders. screw the amish. I don’t care if I agree with them on this, they’ll never get my support

    • Mary Virginia says

      Agreed. They are not all the peaceful loving types you think. Some Amish communites allow these mills and they are the cruelest puppy millers out there. And the fedeal govt gives that a pass rather than step in to a religious quandry. But they are Americans and should abide by the laws. Mills are legal unfortunately, but cruelty to animals is not. They overwork their horses too. Don’t understand that type of Christian thinking.

      • k says

        Those computers you’re on were probably built by Asian children, so maybe dial back the self-righteousness a tad.

      • Ann Williams Thomas says

        Could you post some links to reliable sources (e.g. mainstream media) about the puppy mills and horses? Thanks!

      • Claire says

        I do not believe one has the right to call him/her- self a true Christian if they do not also claim the title of environmentalist and animal activist. We were placed here as stewards of this world. Yes, we were made to “use” animals, but we were also created to care for them…. I, too, do not understand the thinking of these cruel “Christians”.

      • says

        Uhm, you guys forgot to put the little smiley face after your joking remarks. Or you forgot to document your allegations. The former is a mistake of omission, the latter is a sin of commission called “libel.”

    • Catherine says

      You are obviously missing the point. Do you eat meat? If so why is it okay to kill one animal and not another? If you do not eat meat puppies do. Anyway, aside from the fact that Amish live in a way that does not leave a huge carbon footprint and they are probably all more honest and caring then you or I, the point is that the government is corrupt, far more corrupt then the Amish will ever be. They raise their cows on grass and the people who are buying milk from those “puppy killers” are preventing the horrid abuse to factory famed animals by supplying humane dairy. If you are so simple that you can not see how wrong this is then you are part of the problem this country has.

      • Catherine says

        Not to mention the fact these people do actually take care of their horses they need them and they work together. They need the animals to work for them just as they work very hard everyday. Just because you think hard work is torture doesn’t mean it is. It would do you good to get out there and work as farmers do.

  2. Muneeza Akhtar Ahmed via Facebook says

    Cos its a health food in a raw state.. whereas folks are more averse to eating meat and eggs raw and those are not necessarily ‘health’ foods in a raw state. Milk is different. Veggies are not all raw – those coming in from overseas are irradiated. Anything that creates ‘health’ is a bad thing for business.

    • Robin says

      I eat raw eggs and consider them a health food as do many people! Some people even eat raw meat and raw fish in the form of sushi is quite common.

  3. Muneeza Akhtar Ahmed via Facebook says

    For veggies also, their ‘state’ would change if they were cooked so it just wouldn’t work for public consumption. Milk can be cooked and cooled back down, it still looks the same as uncooked milk.

  4. Wayne Clingman via Facebook says

    The now have the power to Seize crops without a warrant for how they are grown. Will YOU use force to protect your property?

    • mickey says

      That’s an interesting question. Technically I cannot grow anything on my property and consume it nor can I give it away.

      lol there are more greenhouses here than I have ever seen. I wonder which of my neighbors or I will be in jail for growing non GM food and eating it.

      Yep, they can “warrantless” seize anything in my state, thanks to our Supreme Court.

  5. Melinda Todd via Facebook says

    Who knows. This is what people used to LIVE on! Our govt has too many hands in their pockets to make reasonable decisions.

  6. Christene LeDoux via Facebook says

    There is a bad, bad strain of Ecoli around these parts at the moment, form raw veggies. I live in Austria but something like 80 people in Germany (about 1.5 hours from us in Munich) are sick + 4 dead.

    • Debbie says

      Yes there were deaths, but they were never actually tied to any one produce or item. They never got it tracked down to anything. I personally think it was planted on the differant produces to inflict purposeful injury and fear. Oh, mighty all protecting government please protect us from this dangerous food. Please irradiate the food to make it safe for us all !!!!!(Give me a break you lousy FDA and USDA )

  7. says

    Wayne, yes I would use force, this isn’t Russia. We pay our taxes and are contantly robbed by the idiots in our govt. I like the organic idea but don’t eat organic alot due to the cost. We are growing our own fruit and veggies and hopefully meat so we will be less dependent on the commercialized foods.

    • AJ says

      I read a new story almost everyday about yet another abuse of power by our government. Sooner or later, folks will get fed up enough with this police state BS that they’re gonna start shooting. Too bad it has to be that way, but it seems like they’re (gov) never going to stop pushing.

  8. Nikki Tucker via Facebook says

    Idk..but this is starting to get crazy! Doesn’t the government have anything else better to do? smh….

  9. says

    As is usually the case in life, the answer is simple, but is made to appear complex in order to hide the truth. The FDA is protecting the american dairy industry by going after raw milk producers. Why? Again, it’s very simple – the raw milk that is being produced by these small farms is lightyears ahead of the swill that is passed off as milk by the american dairy industry, as far as nutrition and quality is concerned. If consumers start demanding raw milk, the american dairy industry will not be able to supply it because THEIR milk would be extremely DANGEROUS to consume raw. So they’re using the FDA to get rid of the competition.

  10. Chris Moore via Facebook says

    The real criminals are the FDA who only use regulations to strong arm small farmers and the producers of real, whole foods instead of regulating the pharamaceutical and big agribusinesses that create the non franken-foods.

  11. says

    @Michael — It seems surreal to me that the dairy industry would feel at all threatened by small raw milk producers who represent less than 1% of the industry. Yes, if raw milk grew in popularity to the point where a large % of milk drinkers wanted to consume it, the dairy industry would certainly be threatened financially. They’d either have to adapt or go out of business. But right now? I just don’t see it. Plus, many raw milk drinkers aren’t even “competition.” They’re people who, for health or taste reasons, couldn’t drink industrial milk but find they can drink raw milk.

    • mickey says

      lol we all used to drink raw milk. My mom skimmed the cream off the top for her coffee and we drank the rest.

    • says

      @Food Renegade: it is not a 1% intrusion into market share that bothers the industrial dairy system, it’s the notion that there could possibly be any difference among what the dairy cartel considers a homogenous commodity.

      The dairy cartel operates as a state-protected monopoly. Enabled by such health regulations, virtually every dairy in the country is forced to sell their milk, at a pre-determined price, through the local milk marketing board, who sets the prices and who allocates production quotas to the various dairies, who pay a certain amount per cow for the right to sell their milk through the cartel.

      In other words, the current dairy cartel works because it has an absolute lock on production. Anything less than 100% represents a failure of their system, which is based on homogeneity — if anyone is allowed to sell a product that is “different,” then the entire system falls apart, because the current system is based upon the notion that all milk is milk, that there is no difference between any of it.

      Now you have these upstarts who claim their milk is somehow “better.” Consumers start to ask questions, and pretty soon the cartel falls apart. It’s the same with all cartels, from diamonds to petroleum. Imagine what would happen if consumers had a choice of buying “dirty” tar sands gasoline instead of less-dirty Light Texas Intermediate. The petro-cartel can never allow such a thing!

  12. Jessica Colacuori Witmer via Facebook says

    It’s not just raw milk they are targeting. It’s local food production in general. It is one of the goal’s of global government to totally dominate the food supply. Just look at Monsanto’s manipulation of the seed industry (especially overseas).

    • mickey says

      Yes, and even poor little Haitti tried to stand up and say they didn’t want any of our GM food. This GM stuff has ruined our soil and the eco system. Not that I like mice, but I rarely see any any more and I live surrounded by fields.

      FDA didn’t ban diet drinks when reports say that it makes one infertile, did it? Some protector we have.

  13. says

    Agree 100% with Michael, it’s all about the dairy industry, and has nothing to do with the supposed health risks. From a good farmer, the health risks are very minimal at best. I switched a little over a year ago and will never go back.

    We need to support the bill Ron Paul recently introduced in Congress to remove the ridiculous restrictions on raw milk.

  14. Kerrie Barnett Knox via Facebook says

    I just ate sushi and sashimi for lunch. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

  15. says

    Ah, but you see, that raw 1% of the milk industry might be just a small gnat buzzing in the dairy industry’s ear right now, but the more people who learn the truth about raw milk is going to make that percentage get bigger as more farmers jump on the bandwagon to meet the demand. The industry knows that the gnat has the potential to become a huge hornet with a nasty stinger, which will hurt their profit margins. They’re trying to squash the gnat before that happens. A gnat is easier to deal with than the hornet. It all comes down to money. The dairy and ag industries have the government in their back pocket and vice versa…..and they don’t want that situation to change.

    • Jerrilee says

      I agree totally – I also think that by allowing the legal sale of raw milk it would expose the reasons that the dairy industry has to pasteurize their milk so that it is safe to drink. Have you ever seen the huge mega-dairies? The manure slop that the cattle stand in all day in confinement lots? The fly-infested milk barns? If the FDA wants to do something to protect the health of the consumer, why don’t they concentrate on the humane treatment of the animals that we depend on and the sanitation of their environment?

      I raise and milk my own dairy goats and (gasp) drink the raw milk. The milk is only as clean as I keep my goats, barn and equipment. I decided two years ago that I will raise and process as much of the food my family consumes as possible. This includes all of our dairy products (cheese included), eggs, meat, vegetables, and even our own wine and beer. We are able to do this on less than two acres, and yes, I work full-time outside the home. It CAN be done, but it is ridiculous that you have to do it yourself in order to live within the confines of the law.

    • says

      “Sometimes I fear they won’t stop until a Quarter Pounder is the only legal option in this country.”

      It gets worse: that Quarter Pounder may be “chipped!”

      Then they’ll be able to check compliance with food consumption regulations. Won’t be long the building codes will require RFID-readers on toilets, reporting back to the mother ship whether you’ve been a good little consumer or not!

  16. Ann Connor-Griffin via Facebook says

    I’m pretty sure the assumption is that the meat and the eggs will be cooked, where it is just the opposite with milk – you normally don’t cook it before you drink it.

    • mickey says

      Ummm yes we do do a lot of cooking with milk. We make breads and cakes with it. I can’t drink the GM milk but had no problem with milk when I was a child.

  17. Dani says

    Betsy has it dead-on: enough people are getting informed about the health benefits of pasture-raised cattle and their raw milk, and the dangers and health-damaging effects of Big Dairy, to the point that Big Dairy is already feeling the effects, or they wouldn’t be using these tactics. Yes, CAFO-produced dairy is dangerous if not pasteurized, so the point is well-taken that SOME milk really SHOULD be cooked to death. However, if I can play Russian Roulette with cigarettes, the choice should be mine to drink whatever kinda milk I please.

    And yes, there are about a million things the FDA should be spending their resources on instead of demonizing the Amish. I don’t care how you feel about the Amish; that’s not the point–small farmers in general shouldn’t be targeted in this manner–covert undercover YEAR-LONG investigations? Did someone get murdered or something? However, the FDA is a puppet-entity of the larger agricultural and food-producing giants, whose strings are being pulled by politicians with opinions that are swayed by well-paid and persistent lobbyists.

    Disgusting. This is not what our founding fathers imagined when drafting the words, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

  18. mickey says

    Getting raw milk from mainstream providers isn’t that easy. For one, many are bunched up, vaccinated to death, and eat GM feed. Getting healthy milk from these cows is next to impossible without outlawing the GM stuff and having acres of ground for the cows to feed on natural sources (what is natural any more?).

    We can buy goat shares and cow shares and are able to get raw milk that way or buy it as animal feed. I’m so happy I grew up on real milk, real eggs, real butter.

    This current young generation just does not seem to have what it takes to fight these big industries; the rest of us are too old and would rather grow our own.

    The FDA and the DHS are worthless agencies. Neither protect us from anything.

  19. Willom Samuel says

    I live in an area with many Amish families. I used to get milk from an Amish family. They were adamant that I not broadcast far and wide that I was getting milk from them, for the very reason cited above. Perhaps the Amish farmer got a little too greedy and made it known he was selling raw milk. Like it or not, it’s not legal, and as with other “illegal” commodities, one must transact on the sly…

    • KristenM says

      Hi Willom,

      Just to be clear, the sale of raw milk is legal (in some form or another) in 39 states. Only 11 states have outright banned the sale of raw milk, and NO state has banned raw milk consumption. In other words, even in the states that criminalize raw milk sales, if you own the cow or goat, you are free to consume its milk. In many such states, consumers of raw milk “get around” the law by owning a share of a dairy cow. They don’t buy milk; they pay for a share of the cow’s food, board, & expenses. In exchange, they get to consume milk from that cow.

      This farmer was supposedly raided not because he sold raw milk, but because he sold the raw milk across state lines. Specifically, he violated the FDA’s 1987 regulation. At least that’s the fine line being drawn here.

      Regardless of the law, a strong case can be made that said law is unjust, absurd, and even unconstitutional.

      • mickey says

        Yeah, once the state line is crossed it becomes a federal thing.

        It gets worse, should milk I dispose of reach the fields, I can be sued for contaminating the field but if the farmer’s overspray kills my goat, I cannot sue–and win.

    • says

      Just to be clearer, the sale of raw milk is LEGAL in Pennsylvania where Dan Allgyer’s farm is.

      To be even clearer, he did not actually “own” the cows — they were owned by a herd-share arrangement.

      Unfortunately, some of the cow co-owners lived outside Pennsylvania, which gave the FDA the excuse they needed.

      I’m really quite amazed to see “Amish” and “greedy” in the same sentence. You obviously know nothing about the Amish.

  20. Sheila Z says

    By personal preference I don’t drink milk, either raw or pasteurized, but I do like to use raw unhomogenized milk to make my own yogurt and some simple cheeses. Raw milk works much better than pasteurized for me. It is almost impossible to find a working dairy farm anymore. Because of raids like these it makes it even harder to find a farmer anywhere that will sell to the public. I don’t know why milk can’t be clearly labeled with some type of disclaimer such as, Raw Milk, may contain harmful pathogens, in big bold letters. Then the buyer could proceed at their own risk with a raw product.

  21. says

    Great article with a very good point. However I am very disappointed by the first 3 comments. Is it necessary to post the comments with the vulgar language?

  22. says

    I suggest that we all forward this article to our congressmen and suggest that the FDA “unregulate” raw milk as one small step toward balancing the budget and reducing government waste. It’s crazy – we can buy cigarettes but not raw milk? What a waste of resources!

    • says

      Specifically, contact your congress critter and ask them to support and co-sponsor HR 1830, the Unpasteurized Milk Act, which would remove the Federal prohibition against transporting raw milk across state lines.

  23. says

    Kristen, I am so glad you post these articles. We’ve only recently started drinking raw milk, and we are lucky to have a lot of producers around here (hooray Maine!). I would be mad as hell if our only choice were grocery store milk.

    Thanks again, FDA. Now can you please go find something better to do?

  24. Kelli says

    Love the discussion, education on a topic I’m not very up on. My personal take, as long as there is no lie or cover up as to what is being sold to the consumer I don’t think it should be illegal. I was recently educated on the high traffic of dolphin killing in Japan and how much of the meat is sold under a completely different label. At that point you don’t even have the choice of your own knowledge of benefits or risks.

  25. Mrs. Nut says

    I have gotten to the point where I just want some land of my own….raise a dairy cow, laying hens, have a veggie garden…we have a good source of beef (not completely grass-fed, but also not fed anything weird like chicken poop) and a local health food store, but I’d rather know exactly where my food comes from.

    Believe it or not at the moment I work in the pharamaceutical industry. LOL. Yeah, the FDA does not exactly do what it was intended to do. At least not on the food side. On the pharma side they’re pretty strict but from what I understand they’re also understaffed so some things slip by.

    • CateK says

      I agree with Mrs Nut. I am in the middle of purchasing land for this very reason. I know raw milk is better for me and my family (and my pets) and even though I work full time (in law enforcement, mind you), I WILL find a way to raise my own dairy cow or perhaps a couple of them and let my friends buy shares so they can get in on the health benefits of raw dairy. Raw milk allows the consumer to make their own cheese, yogurt and butter as well as sour cream, icecream and whey in addition to milk. That’s a lot of food out of the hands of the middle men directly to the consumer. Those products are NOT the same and often fail to work if you use over pastured, homogenized milk. Frankly, I don’t want to eat or drink anything that has come out of a feed lot. People who complained about the Amish and their use of farm animals, need to visit a feedlot and a chicken factory farm. I bet they will run screaming home and throw out all of their grocery store purchases.

  26. says

    here is a link why you can never drink raw milk from big industrialized farmers. You would get sick. the chemicals you get from your food is the big reason for all our problems. Diabetics, obesity, cancer.. you name it..
    your food is injected with E. Coli and mutated enzymes… treated and inject it with cancer causing ammonia to kill of the e.coli and other things. And, yes, this meat goes to both fast food restaurants and into school lunches.. and you eat it daily..
    further your nice and red looking meet it treated with ‘guess” no other but gas packed carbon monoxide to make the meat appear fresh even if it has gone bad.
    So big reasons Gov will do anything for sml farmers to be put under..

    http://www.eatwild.com/foodsafety.html
    http://healthmad.com/conditions-and-diseases/genetically-engineered-food-the-risks/
    http://blog.calorie-help.com/2010/04/29/ammonia-and-fast-food/
    http://onlygrassfed.com/frozen-not-gas-packed.html
    check out the utube video

  27. says

    The FDA is scared to freaken death of what is happening in CA and Pennsylvania and the six other states that allow raw milk sales. The are scared because no one is dying..except for pasteurized milk sales.

    A simple GOOGLE of the most allergenic foods in America, brings up #1 as pasteurized milk for kids. Lactose Intolerance seals its fate with 30-60 of the populations that sit on the toilet for hours if they drink dead CAFO PMO pasteurized swill.

    The people are voting with their dollars and the dairy industry is finnaly getting the truth served back to it and their Mafia Fascist Bed Connection at the FOOD INC FDA.

    Truth sucks doesn’t it Mr. Sheehan. Get used to it. Raw Milk for people and not the pasteurizer will feed America very soon.

    All the best,

    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC
    Fresno CA serving Raw Milk to 50,000 people per week from 400 stores in CA

  28. Gaylee F says

    It all has to do with Government CONTROL. We the people do not have the freedom to buy the light blulbs we want, or the toilets we want, etc. Now, it is reaching out to milk and vegetable gardens. We are losing our liberties left and right and they are doing it one restriction at a time. It is like boiling a frog: you put the frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog won’t notice until it is dead. This is what our government is doing to us. One restriction at a time and we won’t even know when all our rights are gone. In this way, the people won’t rebel. When they finally see it, it will be too late! We are becoming slaves to Global Government. Think about it, illegals in our country have more rights than we do. This is not the America I use to know. Is it yours?

  29. Jenny says

    Ahhhh…but they DON’T want to permit the raw sales of anything….pasteurized almonds, irradiated mangoes and other produce and herbs.

  30. Amy says

    AGREE 100% with Michael and Jan!!!! It is about control and even the smallest squeak of competition scares the hell out of the big whigs. Why are they trying so hard to shut down small local farmers and dairies?…..b/c they know these farmers are onto something *as they always have been) and they want to shut them up. Healthier and better products don’t make money for the processed laden and GMO companies.

  31. says

    Question that pops to my mind, is what legal recourse do we as consumers have to stop the FDA from infringing on our rights to consume raw milk.

    Ron Pauls bill was mentioned, are there any law firms to represent the amish?

  32. Shaaaaane says

    I have one answer, though it might sound conspiratorial, bear with me. I have heard about the hormones that they feed the cows in order for them to produce more milk, these hormones can also effect people. Since the FDA seems so touchy on the raw milk ‘issue’ would it be safe to assume that they want the population to buy the mass produced milk? If so, why? very conspiratorial i know, but these are just the questions i raised after reading this.

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