SALEM, Ohio – Two months after a Holmes County farmer’s dairy license was revoked, he is now back in business.
Arlie Stutzman’s license was taken away in February after he sold a gallon of raw milk to an undercover Ohio Department of Agriculture agent.
The Amish farmer was eligible to reapply for a license immediately and did so several weeks later, said department spokesperson LeeAnne Mizer.
State sanitarians visited the farm April 17 and inspected the facility to be sure the equipment was functioning and proper health safety measures were being followed, she said.
Stutzman passed the inspection and received a new dairy license.
What happened. Investigators originally visited the operation last fall after an anonymous neighbor contacted the state and alleged Stutzman was selling milk, butter and beef from his farm.
While there, an undercover agent asked to buy raw milk, according to hearing documents.
Stutzman said there was no charge but would accept “whatever you think it is worth.” He filled a gallon jug and took $2 from the agent.
Regardless of whether the milk is sold for $20 a gallon or given away for free, it’s illegal in Ohio, Mizer said.
Milk sold in grocery stores is pasteurized to kill disease-causing bacteria. Because raw milk hasn’t gone through this step, the state bans anyone other than the farm family from drinking it.
During the undercover operation, Stutzman’s wife said they sold raw milk but “they need to be careful who they sell to because of getting in trouble,” according to the agent’s notes.
In addition, Stutzman told investigators about another area farm that may be willing to sell raw milk.
Misbranding. At Stutzman’s hearing earlier this year, state officials focused on the issue of misbranding rather than raw milk’s legality.
Stutzman asked the agent for an empty container to put the milk in, according to the documents.
This meant it violated Ohio Revised Code 917(E) and (F), which says you cannot sell or distribute a dairy product that is not labeled.
Protection. In the future, Mizer said Stutzman would be treated the same as any other Ohio dairy producer.
There will be routine inspections and complaints will be followed up, but he will not be monitored more closely because of his past, Mizer said.
The state, however, is seeking a permanent injunction in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to stop Stutzman from selling raw milk. The hearing is set for June 30.
This will be a way for the state to protect itself in case the issue of raw milk continues to be a problem at the Stutzman farm, Mizer said.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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