Bethesda, MD—June 9, 2008—Lexus-driving Lyn Rales is an unlikely ally for a farmer who drives a horse and buggy. What’s the connection? Rales is one of Mennonite farmer Mark Nolt’s customers for fresh farm products, including raw milk.
Rales will be hosting a fundraiser at her elegant Bethesda home for the plainfolk farmer, recently raided and arrested by Pennsylvania state authorities for selling raw milk without a permit. Nolt argues that he has a constitutional right to direct farm-to-consumer sales without permission from the state. During several raids officials confiscated almost $50,000 worth of equipment and food, including food Nolt needs to feed his family of ten children. The farmer also faces thousands of dollars in fines and an uncertain future.
The state of Pennsylvania and its Mennonite community have a long tradition of safe, legal raw milk sales. Due to the popularity of raw milk with health conscious consumers, Pennsylvania raw milk permits have tripled in recent years. But, as these small farms prosper, Pennsylvania Health and Agriculture authorities have taken an aggressive anti-raw milk stance, going so far as to send out press releases warning consumers it is not safe to drink raw milk, harassing farmers who sell the product and making it increasingly difficult for farmers to secure and keep raw milk permits.
Raw dairy and related products are the key to a small sustainable farm’s profitability. The Mark Nolt situation is galvanizing consumers who want to see our nation transition to more a sustainable farming system. His case highlights the difficulties posed by the state and federal regulations designed to control abuses of big agribusiness but then inappropriately applied to the independent small farm.
The relationship between Nolt and Rales began when her son was working on his bachelors degree in environmental studies at Middlebury College in Vermont. Matthew Rales contacted Mark Nolt as part of his research, and was graciously invited to shadow him on his farm. The day Rales and her son spent on the farm led to an enduring friendship. Lyn now sources much of the food for her household from the Nolt farm, including her Thanksgiving turkey. Last Thanksgiving, Matt worked on the farm to help Nolt out when the farmer was overwhelmed with business for the holiday. Lyn did her part by selling 18 turkeys to her Bethesda neighbors to help with the farm’s surplus.
Matthew Rales recently published a scholarly article disputing arguments that cows cause global warming for the Wise Traditions for Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Inspired by Nolt and other farmers like him, Matthew is now pursuing a career in grass-based farming. He currently works for internationally known pioneer in the pasture-based farming model, Joel Salatin, at his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia. Salatin’s farm is a now-famous model of sustainability and humane treatment of animals and farm workers. Salatin has authored four books, one of which was seized during the raid on Nolt’s farm, aptly titled, Everything I Want to Do is Illegal. Salatin will be a speaker at the event, along with Sally Fallon-Morell, President and Founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit nutrition education foundation that advocates the consumption of raw milk from pastured cows.
The fundraiser, a garden party, will be held on Saturday, June 21, 4-7 pm. The caterers will prepare food sourced from the Nolt farm and other sustainable farms.
Contributions to help the farmer should be made out directly to Mark Nolt, and sent c/o The Weston A. Price Foundation, PMB 106-380, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. 20016. Contributors of $100 or more will be invited to attend the event, space permitting.
Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is a 501c3 nutrition education non-profit organization, based in Washington, D.C. With 400 chapters and 10,000 members worldwide, it has become the leading consumer based advocacy group promoting and supporting sustainable agriculture. The WAPF Campaign for Real Milk project has led to widespread consumer acceptance of raw dairy products and the prosperity and survival of many family farms. To find a chapter near you, visit the website at www.westonaprice.org and to learn more about raw milk visit www.realmilk.com.