Raw milk problems on Pa. farms

April 5th, 2007 Other News

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Consumers who purchased raw milk from two Pennsylvania dairies are being warned of potential contamination.
Individuals who bought milk from Charles Bartels in Meshoppen, Wyoming County, any time after March 1 should discard it immediately due to the risk of Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
During routine inspection, a preliminary test showed the presence of Listeria bacteria in some of the raw milk samples taken from the Bartels farm.
No illness. There have been no illnesses reported because of the potential contamination, but if individuals who consumed the raw milk become ill, they are advised to consult a physician.
The department of agriculture has suspended sales of raw milk at the dairy and is ensuring that corrective action is taken. Multiple laboratory samples must come back negative before sales can resume.
York County. Stump Acres Dairy of New Salem, York County, voluntarily stopped raw milk sales March 27 as a precautionary measure after a consumer who drank raw milk purchased from the dairy after March 19 experienced gastrointestinal illness.
In February, raw milk purchased at Stump Acres Dairy was linked to eight cases of infection with salmonella typhimurium and sales were suspended March 2.
On March 19, the dairy resumed raw milk sales following testing, cleaning and additional inspection.
The shelf-life for raw milk is about 14 days but can be longer if the milk is frozen, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Freezing of the milk will not kill the salmonella bacteria.
Individuals who drank raw milk purchased from Stump Acres Dairy and became ill are advised to consult with their physician. If no illness occurred, it is not necessary to seek medical attention.
Onset of illness usually occurs in 24 to 72 hours and patients typically recover in a week or less.

Farmer can supply raw milk

March 29th, 2007 Janelle Skrinjar

SALEM, Ohio – Ohio’s raw milk drinkers are raising their glasses in victory after the Ohio Department of Agriculture dropped its appeal last week in the case against Carol Schmitmeyer.
Schmitmeyer, a dairy producer in Darke County, had been providing raw milk through herd share agreements for about a year when the ODA yanked her Grade A milk producer license in September. The department said she was violating Ohio’s dairy laws by selling raw milk, processing milk without a processor’s license and selling milk that wasn’t properly labeled.
Background. Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan Hein overturned the ODA’s decision in January, basing his ruling on how the department handled the case. The department appealed the decision later that month, which prevented Schmitmeyer from resuming her herd share agreements.
Schmitmeyer’s Grade A license was reinstated in October on the grounds that she stop distributing raw milk to herd share customers.
Dropped. The case was awaiting its turn in court when Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland stepped in and ordered the ODA to drop its appeal.
“Fundamentally, the governor agreed with the judge,” said Keith Dailey, Strickland’s press secretary.
The governor’s decision was based on the herd share concept. Dailey said there’s “not enough evidence to suggest part ownership in a herd is problematic.”
“We feel justice was finally served,” said Schmitmeyer, who makes a living on her 100-head dairy farm with her husband, Paul.
Now that the appeal has been dropped, the dairy farmer can resume the herd share agreements, although she’s not sure when that will happen.
“We want to start as soon as possible,” she said.
Not for sale. Throughout the case, Schmitmeyer has said she never sold raw milk. Instead, she provided the product through herd share agreements with customers who paid a $50 membership fee to own a portion of the herd, plus a weekly $6 boarding fee. Raw milk sales are illegal in Ohio, but there is no law that prevents those who own dairy cattle from drinking the milk.
In October, Schmitmeyer told Farm and Dairy she never intended to break the law and her herd share agreements were written by an attorney to make sure the process complied with Ohio’s legislation.
Officials began investigating Schmitmeyer’s dairy operation in January 2006 when two people who drank raw milk from the farm became ill with campylobacterosis, an illness that includes diarrhea, cramps and fever. But Schmitmeyer said her milk never tested positive for the campylobacter bacteria.
Freedom. More than anything else, Schmitmeyer said the fight was about consumers’ freedom to choose. The dairy producer knows raw milk isn’t for everyone, but said those who want it should be able to make that choice.
“It’s great that they can have that right,” she said.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

Related articles:

Judge overturns raw milk verdict January 11, 2007

Dairy farmer can keep milking, October 12, 2006

Ohioan loses milk license October 5, 2006

Raw milk, value-added products are at the center of speaker’s farm vision

March 15th, 2007 Other News

COLUMBUS – Weston A. Price Foundation President and Treasurer Sally Fallon gave the keynote speech and presented at several sessions during the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s recently-concluded 28th annual conference.
The association is a membership-based, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable, ecological and healthful food systems.
The conference was held March 3-4 in Granville, Ohio, and attendees included farmers, consumers, gardeners, chefs, political activists, teachers, researchers, retailers and students.
Topics. Fallon presided over a sold-out six-hour preconference session, covering topics such as: the vital role of animal fats in human nutrition; the dangers of modern vegetable oils; the pioneering work of Dr. Weston A. Price; the issue of raw milk in Ohio; and the health benefits of enzyme-rich lacto-fermented foods.
During the conference, Fallon presented two sessions on a campaign for “real milk” and “the oiling of America.”
The former session covered the science and research behind the safety and health benefits of drinking raw milk from pasture-fed cows, and the latter session covered the detrimental health affects linked to untraditional lipids introduced into the American food supply within the past century.
Vision. Fallon’s keynote address on how to keep added value on the farm laid out her vision of saving the small family farm and rural communities by focusing on traditional value-added products such as butter, cream, cheese and raw milk from pasture-fed animals.
Fallon used her former hometown of Healdsburg, Calif., as a model of how a community can prosper by concentrating on value-added products as opposed to growing commodity crops sold on the open market.
“My hometown was a virtual dump during my childhood in the 60s when local farms grew pears and prune plums, commodity crops that were bought and resold by big corporations.
“Everything was run down, there was no good restaurant in town and most of the buildings needed paint,” stated Fallon.
Wine country. “But Healdsburg is located in Sonoma County, and you would hardly recognize the town now after local farmers switched to cultivating grapes and fermenting wine.
“Rather than growing commodity crops and seeing others profit from their efforts, Healdsburg farmers now not only grow their own grapes, but make the finished product fine wines sold at their own wineries or at retailers across the country and around the world.
She said that the profits and income now stay in Sonoma County.
“It is my hope that small farmers can learn the same lesson and start producing their own value-added products, taking advantage of the growing consumer interest in high-quality raw milk, cream, butter and yogurt,” continued Fallon.
Raw milk. “Educated consumers will beat a path to a farmer’s door to buy creamy raw milk from healthy grass-fed cows that tastes like melted vanilla ice cream, and will gladly pay anywhere from four to $12 a gallon.
“My conservative estimates are that a small farm with 30 head of cows on 100 acres can easily make over $150,000 in gross income per year.”
She believed that raising chickens, hogs or other animals that can eat the by-products of cheese and butter production can easily bring in tens of thousands more.
“Selling directly to consumers through farmer’s markets, herdshares or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) can easily make small farming a viable lifestyle again and can breathe new life into dying rural towns and communities.”

Raw milk tests positive for salmonella

March 8th, 2007 Other News

HARRISBURG, Pa., – Consumers who purchased raw milk from Stump Acres Dairy of New Salem, Pa., in York County should immediately discard the product due to the risk of contamination with salmonella.
Individuals who drank raw milk from Stump Acres Dairy and became ill should consult with their physician and contact their local health department. If no illness occurred, it is not necessary to seek medical attention, but consumers should still discard the raw milk.
Confirmed. This consumer advisory is based on reports to the Department of Health about two confirmed cases and one probable case of Salmonella Typhimurium infection among York County residents who drank raw milk from Stump Acres Dairy in February. Additional cases of illness are suspected.
The state department of agriculture has suspended sales of raw milk at the dairy and is ensuring that corrective action is taken and that multiple laboratory samples come back negative for Salmonella before raw milk sales can resume.
As part of the investigation, the department got three positive milk cultures from the dairy. A milk sample obtained from consumers also tested positive at the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Bureau of Laboratories.
Clients. Stump Acres Dairy has a customer base of about 250 clients. The customers of the dairy are known to be from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. No cases of salmonella infection have been identified at this time in the other states.
The shelf-life of raw milk is about 14 days, but can be longer if the milk is frozen. Freezing the milk will not kill the salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella is a bacterial infection that affects the intestinal tract and can sometimes affect the bloodstream and other organs. It is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis, which can include diarrhea and vomiting.
Stats. Approximately 2,000 cases of salmonella are reported each year in Pennsylvania. Onset of illness usually occurs in 24 to 72 hours and patients typically recover in five to seven days. Patients often do not require treatment unless they become severely dehydrated or the infection spreads from the intestines.
Antibiotics are not usually necessary unless the infection spreads from the intestines.
For information on salmonella, visit the department of health Web site at www.health.state.pa.us or call 877-PA-HEALTH.

Raw milk case back in court

February 8th, 2007 Janelle Skrinjar

SALEM, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Agriculture has appealed a ruling handed down in Ohio’s most recent raw milk battle.
At the end of 2006, Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan Hein said the ODA didn’t have enough evidence to revoke Carol Schmitmeyer’s Grade A milk producer license. In September, the department had accused Schmitmeyer of selling raw milk, an illegal act in Ohio, and revoked her producer license.
In his ruling, Hein said the ODA didn’t handle the case properly. He found the department failed to give Schmitmeyer a reasonable amount of time to correct the alleged violations and he cited arbitrary enforcement of rules as a reason for overturning the ODA’s decision.
No sales. Schmitmeyer, who makes a living on her 100-head dairy farm in Darke County, said she didn’t sell raw milk to anyone. Rather, she was providing the product through herd share agreements. Her customers paid a $50 membership fee to own a portion of the herd, plus a weekly $6 boarding fee.
Ohio law allows those who own dairy cattle to drink the raw milk produced by those animals.
In October, a judge issued a temporary permit that allowed Schmitmeyer to continue operating as a Grade A producer on the grounds that she stop distributing raw milk to herd share customers.
The department filed its appeal with the Darke County Court of Common Pleas Jan. 26.
“Our director considered it and that’s the determination they came to,” said LeeAnne Mizer, ODA spokesperson.
Schmitmeyer would’ve been allowed to resume her herd share agreements at the end of January if the department had not appealed.
Freedom. For Schmitmeyer, the fight is about consumers’ freedom to choose what to drink.
“That’s always been the issue for it all,” she said.
But the matter is becoming a difficult burden to bear, financially and emotionally.
“It doesn’t matter which way they (ODA) go around, we’ll still lose in the end,” Schmitmeyer said. “The judge ruled in our favor, so we should be able to do it (use herd share agreements), but we can’t.”
Investigation. The investigation into Schmitmeyer’s dairy operation began in January 2006 when two people who drank raw milk from the farm became sick with campylobacterosis, an illness characterized by diarrhea, cramps and fever.
Schmitmeyer said her milk never tested positive for the bacteria.
In addition to the alleged raw milk sales, the ODA also said Schmitmeyer processed milk without a processor’s license and sold milk that wasn’t properly labeled.
Ohio dairy farmers can sell milk directly to consumers if they are licensed and inspected milk processor and if they meet requirements like labeling and pasteurization.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

Related articles:

Judge overturns raw milk verdict, January 11, 2007

Dairy farmer can keep milking, October 12, 2006

Ohioan loses milk license
October 5, 2006

Judge overturns raw milk verdict

January 11th, 2007 Janelle Skrinjar

SALEM, Ohio – Darke County dairy farmer Carol Schmitmeyer could soon be back in business after a judge ruled the
Ohio Department of Agriculture didn’t have enough evidence to revoke her Grade A milk producer license.
The producer lost her license in September when the department said she failed to comply with the law by processing milk without a processor’s license, selling raw milk and selling milk that wasn’t properly labeled.
The action was taken based on the recommendation of a hearing officer.
Not for sale. It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Ohio, but Schmitmeyer said that’s not what she was doing. The dairy farmer contended she was providing raw milk through herd share agreements. Her customers paid a $50 membership fee to own a portion of the herd, plus a weekly $6 boarding fee.
There is no law that prevents those who own dairy cattle from drinking the raw milk produced by those animals.
Victory. Schmitmeyer said the ruling is more than just a victory for raw milk drinkers – it’s a victory for consumers who want the freedom to choose.
“We’re just really happy they have a choice,” she said.
The ODA has until the end of January to appeal the ruling. In the meantime, Schmitmeyer must wait to begin operating any herd share agreements.
If the department does not appeal, Schmitmeyer said she will continue to provide raw milk to herd share customers.
ODA spokesperson LeeAnne Mizer said the department “respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision.” However, the department is still reviewing the ruling and no decision has been made on whether or not to appeal.
If the ODA does appeal, Schmitmeyer said she will “continue to fight the war.”
Schmitmeyer has been allowed to operate as a Grade A dairy producer since October when a judge issued a temporary permit on the grounds that she stop distributing raw milk to herd share customers.
Decision. In his decision, Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan Hein did not discuss issues regarding public health. Instead, he wrote that his ruling was based on how the department handled the case.
In one part of the ruling, Hein wrote that the court couldn’t determine if the ODA is arbitrarily enforcing raw milk laws since some people who own cattle, like dairy farmers, are permitted to drink it. Also, the judge found the department did not give Schmitmeyer a “reasonable amount of time to correct” any supposed violations.
When the case was heard originally, the hearing officer said Schmitmeyer’s herd share agreements were “nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to shield (her) from liability for her illegal sales of raw milk.”
In his decision, Hein wrote, “If the herd share agreement is a circumvention of the law, so is the department’s inexact practice of allowing owners and their families, etc. to consume raw milk.”
Laws. Ohio dairy laws do allow farmers to sell milk directly to consumers if they are a licensed and inspected milk processor. They also have to meet labeling, pasteurization and other requirements.
Schmitmeyer has been under investigation since January 2006 when two people who drank raw milk from her farm became ill with campylobacterosis, a sickness characterized by diarrhea, cramps and fever.
The dairy producer said her milk never tested positive for the bacteria.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

Related articles:
Dairy farmer can keep milking, October 12, 2006

Ohioan loses milk license
October 5, 2006

Ohio Farm Bureau delegates weigh in on raw milk debate

December 7th, 2006 Susan Crowell

COLUMBUS – The 329 delegates to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting last week faced 267 pages of proposed state and national policies. And they almost didn’t get past page 7.
The delegates, meeting Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, squared off on the issue of raw milk sales directly to consumers.
The Farm Bureau policy development committee proposed reversing the group’s existing policy that supported the licensing of raw milk retailers in Ohio.
It’s an opportunity. Not so fast, said Geauga County’s Gerald Mitchell, who proposed an amendment calling on Ohio Farm Bureau to help author a plan for legitimate raw milk sales.
“This is a niche market,” Mitchell said.
The amendment was also championed by Paulding County’s Ralph Schlatter, who said production and sanitation methods have changed from the conditions that triggered the pasteurizing regulation.
“We’re beyond open bucket milking,” Schlatter said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Risk too high. But Tuscarawas County delegate Connie Finton responded that the science doesn’t support the risk.
“The dairy industry strongly stands for sound science,” Finton said, “and sound science says you can’t safely consume raw milk.”
Veterinarian Jerry Lahmers, another Tuscarawas County delegate, backed her claims, saying a cow’s salmonella or listeriosis infection can be passed through her milk for a period and there is no real daily test to detect it.
“No one gets good immunity from these things,” Lahmers added. “It’s not the old diseases we have to worry about, it’s the new ones.”
Schlatter warned of consequences if Ohio closes its door to raw milk sales options.
“This issue is not going to go away,” he said. “It will go underground.”
No sales. After debating a policy amendment for nearly half an hour on the first day of policy development, and returning to the issue the next day, delegates supported new policy that opposes the sale of raw milk to consumers.
Other key issues. Delegates also decided term limits aren’t working in the Ohio Statehouse, and created policy that opposes term limits for state legislators.
They also showed some “ethanol exuberance,” as organization president Bob Peterson called it, and voiced support of tax credits and other incentives to develop alternative energy sources, and to expedite the permitting process for renewable fuel plants. They also supported tax credits for energy generated on the farm.
The farm representatives also called for an extensive review of, and recommended changes to, the state’s drainage laws.
The farm group also reaffirmed its support of the Current Agricultural Use Value program, expressing concern that certain changes to the program would erode the value of the program, which taxes real estate based on its agricultural use, rather than its current development, or market, use.
Looking ahead. With an eye toward the 2007, Peterson said next year, particularly the battle for the next farm bill, will be a lot like the 2006 crop harvest: “tough, difficult, tiring, but potentially very rewarding.”
He’s seeing lots of interest in the next farm bill from nonfarm groups, adding that many of these groups are focused and already hard at work.
The bad news is that agriculture has varied interests, and that can frustrate legislators.
“We aren’t united in agriculture, by any means.” And that, Peterson said, could hurt the farm community since few legislators remain on the Hill who have experience writing a farm bill.
That lack of focus can also be seen at the state level.
“Quite frankly, we need to work harder,” Peterson challenged the Farm Bureau members. “We need to change some of our tactics.”
Makeover. Peterson’s words were repeated a few hours later by Jack Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president.
“We need to take the steps needed to move from being good to being great,” Fisher said.
He pointed to a new task force charged to report to the board in 10 months with recommendations for revamping the farm organization’s structure and programming.
Fisher said he has made administrative structural changes already, reorganizing the state office and reassigning employees.
Trustee elections. At the close of the annual meeting, Bob Peterson was re-elected to his third full one-year term as the group’s president. He is also a member of the board of directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Two new trustees will join the state Farm Bureau board. Daryl Knipp of Lindsey was elected to represent Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky and Wood counties. He succeeds Ed Lamalie, who retired after serving 15 years on the state board.
In southern Ohio, Joyce Payne of Waterloo was elected to represent Athens, Gallia, Lawrence and Meigs counties. She follows Vickie Powell, who was not seeking re-election after serving six years on the board.
Re-elected to the board were:
Charles Lausin of Thompson, representing Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties; Don Ralph, Morral, representing Crawford, Marion, Morrow and Richland counties; Jeff Zellers of Hartville, representing Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage and Stark counties; Brent Porteus of Coshocton, representing Coshocton, Holmes, Knox and Licking counties; Joe Pittman, New Concord, representing Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Perry counties; Nathan Ewing of Waverly, representing Jackson, Pike, Scioto and Vinton counties; Gale Betterly of Richfield, representing the northeast women’s region; and Judy Loudenslager of Marion, representing the northwest women’s region.
Zellers, who is starting his third three-year term as trustee, will also serve his second one-year term as vice president. He previously was OFBF’s treasurer.
Porteus will serve his second one-year term as treasurer.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at editor@farmanddairy.com.)

Kentucky man guilty in Ohio raw milk sale

November 23rd, 2006 Other News

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – A Hamilton County Municipal Court recently found a Kentucky man guilty of violating Ohio’s dairy licensing and labeling laws.
A department investigation found Gary Oaks of Verona, Ky., illegally sold raw milk in the Cincinnati area. The investigation found Oaks was operating without a raw milk retailer’s license and his products were not properly labeled, both required by the state of Ohio.
Ohio law. Under Ohio law, all dairy products must be labeled or represented in accordance with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. The Ohio Revised Code also states that anyone wishing to sell raw milk must hold a valid raw milk retailer’s license, registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the milk must be sold directly to a processor for pasteurization or for use in milk products such as cheese.
Direct sales. The sale of raw milk directly to the consumer is illegal in Ohio and 24 other states. Ohio’s dairy laws do not prohibit dairy farmers from selling milk directly to consumers, provided they meet pasteurization and other requirements and become a licensed and inspected milk processor.
The initial investigation was a joint effort by the department, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
Penalties. Oaks was fined $415 and an additional $85 in court costs. Oaks was also issued a warning letter from the administration resulting from illegal interstate sales of raw milk.
Related articles:
Raw milk fires up industry
March 16, 2006

Washington farm fined as E. coli source
March 30, 2006

Amish dairyman gets OK to continue farming after raw milk incident, April 27, 2006

Amish dairyman banned from selling raw milk again, July 7, 2006

Ohioan loses milk license
October 5, 2006

Dairy farmer can keep milking, October 12, 2006

False comfort: Raw milk is safe

November 2nd, 2006 Susan Crowell

There is a sense of complacency about food safety: Our food supply is safe; I’ve never gotten sick.
But the recent spinach/E. coli crisis illustrates the fragility of that perception. There were 25 Ohioans and 10 Pennsylvanians sickened in that particular outbreak.
Let me throw more numbers at you: The Centers for Disease Control
estimates 76 million people get sick each year from foodborne illness and more than 300,000 are hospitalized. And 5,000 Americans die each year from foodborne illness.
Even with all the protection measures in place, people die.
That’s why I have a real problem with those who clamor for the “right” to be able to buy raw milk in Ohio.
Pasteurization has been used to kill germs in milk since the late 1800s. And there’s a reason. Several reasons, actually. Campylobacter, E. coli, listeria, salmonella, to name just a few.
I have another reason: His name is Justin.
When my son Jon was 4 or 5, a playmate and fellow preschooler contracted E. coli from an unpasteurized drink. So did his older sister. Justin got so sick, he had to be hospitalized in Pittsburgh. And even when he was released, he had to go back for weekly, then monthly checkups. Thank heavens, he is around to live the active life of a teenager today.
The horror his family lived through isn’t worth the risk.
Yes, farm families who routinely drink raw milk from their cows rarely get sick from it. But experts say that’s because they have “gut immunity”, built from frequent exposure to the campylobacter, E. coli and other critters in the manure and milk itself.
Disease reporting data show outbreaks associated with the consumption of raw milk occur every year. In late 2005, an outbreak of E. coli in Washington state sickened eight people, including three children with possible kidney failure. The cases were linked to drinking raw milk. In January, five people became ill after drinking raw milk linked to a Colorado dairy. The milk was obtained through a cow-share program.
And in September, four children in California became seriously ill – three were hospitalized – after drinking unpasteurized milk.
Milk producers who ignore that risk and think herd-share agreements are the way to go to sell a minor portion of their fluid milk better ask themselves this: Are you willing to bet the farm on this niche market?
Does your insurance carrier know you are selling raw milk? What happens when one of those herd-share “owners” changes his mind and gets lawsuit-happy? I doubt your “contract” would protect you.
This is not about personal rights or government interference. This is about public health.
The consuming public wants to know its food is safe. Period.
No one can make that assurance about raw milk.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at editor@farmanddairy.com.)

Amish dairyman banned from selling raw milk again

July 20th, 2006 Former Farm and Dairy Reporters

SALEM, Ohio – Dairyman Arlie Stutzman claims he sells raw milk because of his religious beliefs but that isn’t a good enough reason for him to continue, a judge recently ruled.
In addition, Stutzman’s argument that he accepts donations but does not sell the milk is “subterfuge,” said Holmes County Common Pleas Judge Thomas White.
It’s clearly an attempt to skirt the law, White wrote in his court decision July 7. Stutzman is not a charity funded by donations; he’s a dairy farmer who makes his living selling milk, White added.
Rights in question. Selling raw milk is illegal in Ohio and Stutzman argued this violates his right to freedom of religion.
Stutzman is Amish and believes it’s up to him to share with those in need, said his attorney, Gary Cox.
If people ask him for raw milk and say they cannot get it anywhere else and it’s for their health, his religion teaches him to give them the milk, Cox said.
The judge ruled otherwise and permanently barred the Fredericksburg farmer from selling or accepting donations for raw milk. He can, however, give it away for free.
‘No remorse.’ The decision follows months of conflict between Stutzman and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Stutzman sold a gallon of raw milk for $2 to an undercover department agent last fall. The department revoked his dairy license in January.
In April he reapplied, state sanitarians inspected his farm, and he received a new license.
Milk bought in a grocery store is pasteurized to kill bacteria. Because raw milk hasn’t gone through this step, Ohio law bans anyone other than the cows’ owners from drinking it.
According to court documents, Stutzman admitted in court he’s sold raw milk repeatedly even though a preliminary injunction forbid him from doing so.
“[Stutzman] expressed no remorse for his violations and indicated no desire to bring his conduct into compliance with the court’s orders or Ohio law,” White wrote.
Further action? Stutzman’s attorney said he has not talked with his client about an appeal, but he is asking for a clarification about inconsistencies in the judge’s decision.
Until the motion is submitted, Cox would not comment on those clarifications.
“Obviously [Stutzman] is going to comply. There’s no doubt about it,” Cox said. “But he needs clarification … so he’s not back in court facing contempt charges.”
Cox also filed a motion July 10 asking for a new trial because of newly discovered evidence. He said he had proof the department of agriculture is enforcing state dairy laws selectively. The judge denied the motion two days later.
Cox said he has two clients who use raw milk in their pet food. The department proposed to revoke their licenses but days before the hearing, decided not to continue, Cox said.
This is evidence it is being selective in who it targets, he said.
Not so, said department spokesperson Melanie Wilt. It follows up all complaints or tips, as it did with Stutzman, she said.
In addition, pet food does not fall under Ohio dairy law. Instead, it’s part of the plant health law, which includes feed and fertilizer, Wilt said.
Herd shares. Stutzman also has herd-share agreements.
With these arrangements, the public can buy shares of a farmer’s cattle. Because these people are part-owners, they can drink the raw milk.
The department of agriculture has said in the past this isn’t illegal but is a way for raw milk advocates to get around the law.
The court’s recent permanent injunction against Stutzman does not affect his herd-share agreements.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)