KIZERS, Pa. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ratcheted up its war on Amish raw dairy farmers on Dec. 6, filing a “motion for summary judgment,” with Pennsylvania judge Lawrence Stengler, asking for a permanent injunction against dairy farmer Dan Allgyer. If granted, the injunction would forbid him from selling fresh milk to out of state customers, according to the Farm Food Freedom Coalition.
FDA regulation 21 CFR §1240.61 criminalizes the sale of unpasteurized milk intended to cross state lines. But Tenth Amendment Center director Michael Boldin says banning the interstate sale of raw milk does not even fall within the powers of the federal government under the Constitution. While the FDA goes to great lengths to point out it only regulates interstate distribution, leaving intrastate regulation of raw milk to the states, Boldin says the FDA position still stretches the meaning of the commerce clause beyond the breaking point.
“If, like any legal document, the words of the constitution mean today the same as they meant the moment the people ratified it, we need to understand the meaning of the word regulate, in regards to commerce, from the time of the founding,” he said. “And regulate most certainly did not mean control, prohibit, mandate, or ban.”
After a two-year undercover operation, including multiple armed raids on Allgyer’s farm, FDA agents and a team of ten federal lawyers amassed more than 276 pages of evidence “proving” what Allgyer openly admits: he sells fresh (raw, unpasteurized) milk to customers who knowingly carry the milk across state lines.
Farm Food Freedom Coalition co-founder Liz Reitzig says thousands of Maryland customers buy from Allgyer. In spite of the FDA raids and injunctions, the Amish farmer continues to support his customers’ demand for fresh milk and other farm foods, citing his God-given inalienable rights.
Like most Amish, Allgyer says he’s reluctant to get involved in the legal system, but he chose to respond, claiming the FDA action “has created a serious dilemma” by “violating [his] due process and equal protection under the law.” He says he “is prepared to proceed with a public court forum, if necessary.”
Should Stengler sign the motion, the injunction would not ban Allgyer from selling raw milk in Pennsylvania, but the Maryland families he supplies would lose an important food source. And he would lose his out-of-state business and find himself subjected to strenuous regulation, along with unannounced, unlimited, unwarranted inspections at his expense, including costs of travel, food, lodging and per diems for inspectors. A single inspection could cost up to $10,000, according to Reitzig.
Allyger’s argues in his legal response that the FDA’s suit, though classified as a civil action, in reality qualifies as, “a quasi-criminal action because of the severe sanctions and consequences that could occur as a result of the FDA investigation and the inspection,” and as such “requires prior notice of the offense, probable cause and official complaint, which is totally lacking in this case.”
Allgyer supplies a Washington D.C. area buying club called Grassfed on the Hill. Organizers of the club helped form the Raw Milk Freedom Riders in support of Allgyer and other farmers like him.
“The freedom riders are a group of consumers challenging the FDA’s regulation by engaging in deliberate civil disobedience. They demand the FDA cease prosecuting farmers and consumers for transporting raw milk across state lines,” group founder, Karine Bouis-Towe said. “The riders have staged two ‘freedom rides.’ On Nov. 1, they took raw milk from Pennsylvania to FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., then on Dec. 8 they transported raw milk from Wisconsin to Chicago, Ill., both times distributing the milk. The FDA declined toprosecute in both cases.”
The action against Allgyer is the latest in a string of FDA persecutions of Amish dairy farmers in recent years.