1. Local Florida Farmers to Meet About Raw Milk Regulations
Local Florida farmers are going to Florida State Representative Dwight Stansel to try to amend regulations for selling raw cow’s milk in Florida. Stansel is holding a public meeting on the issue Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at Live Oak City Hal, Florida.
Owner of Full Circle Farms Dennis Stoltzfoos said dairy inspectors from each state held a national conference call about eight months ago expressing concerns about the selling of raw milk, and since then many inspectors have taken action against small farmers.
The Florida Department of Agriculture holds to USDA and FDA regulations, saying the consumption of raw milk can transmit bacteria that can be dangerous or even fatal. The Department claims the consumption of raw milk can result in listeria, E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter pathogens, resulting in the risks of gastrointestinal illnesses.
In response to the conference call, Stoltzfoos’ farm found itself held under the microscope, he said. On July 7, the Department of Agriculture’s Chief of Food and Meat Inspection Dr. John Fruin came to Full Circle Farms calling for changes in its practices, Stoltzfoos said.
Stoltzfoos said Fruin gave his farm a stop sell order saying he was selling under a food establishment without appropriate permits.
Stoltzfoos said he was told in order to meet regulations to sell raw milk, the farm would have to buy a food establishment permit and make renovations to the farm, including the building of a farm store.
“And after meeting these regulations it would still be questionable whether we could sell raw milk,” Stoltzfoos said.
Spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Terence McElroy said several inspectors visited Full Circle Farms in June in which time Stoltzfoos kicked them off of his property and told them he would not comply with the Department. The Department returned to Stoltzfoos farm on July 7 with a stop sell order.
“Stoltzfoos was selling agriculture products without a permit; the stop sell order prohibits him from selling vegetables, milk and meat.” McElroy said.
Stoltzfoos said since that time he has purchased a pet food license.
With a pet food license the farm could sell raw milk with appropriate labels attached, saying the product is not for human consumption but for pet consumption only.
“Though you can sell raw milk with a pet food license, it has to be for that purpose; you can’t just slap a label on it and market it to people,” McElroy said. Stoltzfoos said he and other local farmers are not some outlandish group pushing for regulations to be changed everywhere and for every farmer.
“We simply want a small farm exemption put in place,” he said, explaining his customers buy the raw milk because they believe pasteurization and other processing saps milk of its taste and nutrition. “We feel it’s reasonable to request this exemption for mom and pop farms.”
With about 100 customers who buy the raw milk, Stoltzfoos said his customers are outraged.
“We just want the consumer to get for their families what they have chosen to consume,” he said explaining there are at least 1,000 people in the state of Florida who drink raw cow’s milk. “The consumer wants a food the Department of Agriculture does not want the consumer to have.”
Stoltzfoos said as a result of the no sell order his customers have written several politicians and he has gone public with the issue.
“My customers are upset and have used choice words about the regulations; thousands of letters have went out about the issue,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture also took issues with Full Circle Farms’ web site, saying because the site contained information about human health, this translated into being a food establishment and therefore had to be regulated as such, Stoltzfoos said.
“There was nothing on the web site convincing people to drink raw cow’s milk; we simply had health information on it,” Stoltzfoos said explaining he took down the web site after it was questioned.
“Stoltzfoos was advertising over the Internet; he was clearly marketing raw milk to people.” McElroy said.
McElroy said because Stoltzfoos refused to comply with the Department, two administrative complaints have been filed against him. One, marketing to people agriculture products without a license, and two, operating a farm in less than sanitary conditions.
“Stoltzfoos contested the Department and hired an attorney,” McElroy said. “We are now working with him and his attorney to work out a settlement.”
Stoltzfoos, who says he has been a human health consultant for 15 years involving himself in alternative health practices, doesn’t believe there is any science to support claims about raw milk being dangerous.
“When Fruin came to the farm in July, I asked him to provide me with scientific documentation backing claims regarding the dangers of raw milk; I was given no such documentation,” he said claiming FDA and USDA regulations are based on opinions.
Stoltzfoos, who said his children have never had any immunizations and are at top-notch health, believes in consuming mostly organic vegetables and other foods. For the most part, chemicals are not used on his farm. No chemical fertilization is used on the farm’s produce. His cattle are not given antibiotics or hormones.
Stoltzfoos is affiliated with the raw-milk advocacy group the Weston A. Price Foundation and said drinking raw milk is a trend that’s coming back because of the milk’s nutritional value.
“Before 100 years ago people drank raw milk for thousands of years,” he said. “If it’s really about a human health issue why don’t they stop the selling of cigarettes?”
Stoltzfoos said it all boils down to the issue of money, big business and the pharmaceutical industry.
“Big money is often behind their efforts,” he said.
Author: Vanessa Fultz, Democrat Reporter Publication Date: 2005-12-09
Vanessa Fultz may be reached by calling 1-386-362-1734 ext. 130 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Tiny Dairies Run Afoul of State Regulators (state of Washington)
Raw milk providers who sell shares in cow don’t see themselves in the retail business
By RACHEL LA CORTE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
VASHON ISLAND — Kelsey Kozack’s kitchen is a dairy wonderland. Fresh cheeses, yogurt and quarts of fresh raw milk abound, all compliments of Iris, a gentle, tan cow that grazes on the family’s seven-acre property.
Just 16, Kelsey has established and runs Fort Bantam Creamery from her family home on Vashon.
At first, Kelsey’s parents and sister were the main consumers of her culinary creations from Iris’ raw, unpasteurized milk. Then, neighbors got samples, and from there a small but passionate business began. Raw milk aficionados bought a “share” of Iris for a fee, and Kelsey handled the care, feeding and milking for them.
“After you’ve been drinking raw milk for a while, you can’t drink store-bought again,” she said. “It has a lot more flavor and is healthier.”
But regulators have taken notice of these small, community-driven models across the state, saying that they need to be licensed and regulated with the state Department of Agriculture or else must stop operations. Recently, the agency has been sending cease and desist letters to raw microdairies that aren’t licensed, sparking a small battle over whether the state has a right to regulate what many consider a private operation.
With only one dairy cow whose milk production is tapering off and a handful of shareholders, the Kozacks don’t consider themselves in the retail business like large dairies. They also don’t consider themselves rule breakers.
“If they send a letter, we’ll stop,” said Kelsey’s father, Chuck. “That would be unfortunate. We know the people now and they really love the product and we love sharing it. We definitely don’t do it for the money.”
Interest in raw, unpasteurized milk has been on the rise across the nation, part of the growing organic and natural foods movement. Proponents say raw milk is healthier and better tasting than the pasteurized, homogenized milk on supermarket shelves.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that raw milk is dangerous, possibly carrying deadly pathogens such as campylobacter, salmonella and E. coli.
But supporters of raw milk say it’s the victim of a smear campaign.
“Raw milk from healthy animals is the safest milk in the world,” said Ron Schmid, author of “The Untold Story of Milk.”
Selling raw milk for human consumption is legal in 28 states, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a raw milk advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Five states allow raw milk for animal consumption, a loophole that raw milk fans exploit. In some of the remaining states, including Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, raw milk is available through cow share programs.
Numerous cow share programs likely exist below the radar.
“We know a lot of small farmers don’t want to pay, or get involved in the bureaucracy,” said Bill Sanda, executive director of the foundation.
In Washington state, raw milk sales are legal if the farm is licensed through the state, which requires monthly testing of the milk and inspection of the farm and milk-bottling room.
Also, each bottle must contain a warning label stating “WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria. Pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons with lowered resistance to disease have the highest risk of harm from use of this product.”
Janet Anderberg, public health adviser with the state Department of Health, said there was an E. coli outbreak last year involving three people in Whatcom County tied to illegal raw milk. In 2003, three people in Yakima County and eight in Skagit County became ill from tainted milk.
“No one has died as a result of a raw milk outbreak, but we’ve had some really sick people,” Anderberg said.
The state agency has sent out four letters to unlicensed raw dairies across the state in the past several months, said Claudia Coles, program manager of the agency’s food safety program.
Six dairies in the state are licensed to sell Grade A raw milk, both goat and cow, Coles said.
“The people who are using a cow share operation in lieu of being licensed with us are doing so to sidestep licensing criteria,” Coles said.
Those criteria for cow shares include submitting to inspections every three to six months, and ensuring that the milking and bottling areas are up to code, which includes having a separate room for bottling the milk, something that the Kozacks — who bottle in their house — say is an unreasonable financial burden.
“How worth it is it to have a cow or two if you have to go make a stainless steel kitchen that’s only for bottling the milk and nothing else?” Kelsey’s mother, Linda, asked.
A statewide campaign in support of the raw dairy shareholder has formed under two organizations, the Washington Association of Shareholder Dairy Owners and the Raw Dairy Choice Campaign.
“You can’t buy what you already own,” said Chrys Ostrander, organizer of Raw Dairy Choice and co-founder of the shareholder association. “If you’re a shareholder and you can demonstrate that through legal documentation and you contract with the farmer, that’s no different than having your own cows at your own home.”
George Calvert, who operates a cow share out of Calvert’s Castle dairy in Medical Lake, near Spokane, received a letter from the state in August. His attorney responded in September, saying they weren’t selling milk and therefore weren’t in violation. So far, the state hasn’t responded.
Calvert charges a $40 one-time fee for a share of the cow; $14 a month covers the boarding, feeding and milking.
“What you’ve got is the state telling you how to run your dairy, instead of the owner of the cows you are accountable to,” Calvert said. “I don’t need the state to tell me how to run my dairy.”