Lancaster Farming has run an article examining the prosecution of Mark Nolt and another Pennsylvania farmer who sold raw milk without a permit. The tactics used to bust these guys are more reminiscent of the War on Drugs than routine dairy regulation:
Chris Ryder, [Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture] spokesman, said additional citations are pending in relation to the two most recent incidents in which Nolt sold raw milk and cheese to undercover PDA agents this year.
Meanwhile, a Lancaster County farmer was found guilty on May 6 on one count of selling raw milk without the state required permit after he was initially charged with three counts.
Glenn Wise, a Mennonite minister who farms 23 acres just outside of Elizabethtown, Pa., was ordered to pay a fine of $50 in his case.
Wise, who spoke by phone on Tuesday, said he sold raw milk to an undercover PDA agent on three separate occasions after the agent signed a contract to become a member of Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-Farming (CARE), an organization of which Wise is a member.
Two things are worth emphasizing here. The first is that Nolt could have slipped under the radar by maintaining his raw milk permit and selling his other raw milk products on the down low. His refusal to do so is an honest, principled protest of the state’s restrictive laws. The second is that these farmers’ customers were clearly informed, going so far as to sign contracts agreeing to the sale outside of the regulated system. This is not a case of consumers being manipulated; it’s a case of state officials interfering with the business of consenting adults.
The raw milk movement raises eyebrows with its eccentricity, but the people on the front lines are among the country’s most ardent defenders of economic freedom. I’d gladly raise a glass of unpasteurized milk to them — if I could.