Portal:Raw Milk

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The Raw Milk Portal

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The Food Rights Network is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy project of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Raw milk is milk that comes directly from cows, goats and sheep. It is not modified by processes such as pasteurization and homogenization. Farmers’ practices, such as how those animals are fed, milked, and treated, along with how the raw milk is stored and transported, are critical to the quality of that milk. FRN supports the policies and practices in dairy farming that make it possible to have appropriately sized herds and pasture for grazing that will help ensure good quality milk. FRN supports practices in storage and transportation of raw milk that have made this a safe and healthy product for generations. FRN supports the farmer’s right to sell raw milk to individuals and commercial enterprises both on and off the farm. FRN supports the milk drinker's right to purchase raw milk both on and off the farm.


The Latest from the Food Rights Network

Activists Rally Around Wisconsin Dairy Farmer Facing Criminal Charges

As snow started to fall, a Mennonite dairy farmer arrived at the courthouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin, on March 2 for a hearing on four charges against him related to the production and distribution of milk and other foods. Vernon Hershberger operates Grazin' Acres Farm, a small family dairy farm in Loganville, and is part of a private food club that leases his cows and receives distributions of raw milk and other foods via what he calls a members-only "food pantry" on the farm.

Wisconsin allows incidental sales of raw milk on-farm without a license. Critics claim that the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) interprets this law more strictly now than it has in the past.

Hershberger is being charged by the state of Wisconsin not with selling raw milk, but with operating a food establishment without a license, producing milk without a license, operating a dairy plant without a license and violating a hold order that was placed on his coolers during a June 2010 raid. Hershberger claims he does not participate in commerce, but instead has a contractual arrangement with the leaseholders of the farm's livestock. The state's charges could land him in prison for three years, with fines of over $10,000. . . .

Food Rights Activists Support Hershberger

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Despite an impending snow storm, about 300 people gathered in front of the Sauk County District Courthouse in Baraboo before the hearing to support Hershberger, the food club members and what they say are food rights.

The "Raw Milk Freedom Riders" group, unveiled a "Declaration of Food Independence" beside the courthouse steps. It proclaims that "inherent in every individual is the God-given right to procure the food of one's choice from consenting farmers and producers." Hershberger was the first to sign.

Food Club Members Defend their Contract and their Farmer

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Members of Grazin' Acres private food club toasted "to food rights" with raw milk and homemade cookies.

One of the members of the club, Kelly West of Middleton, Wisconsin, said, "Vernon is not selling to the public. We pay him to board and care for our animals. We own the cows. We own the food. This arrangement is permitted under the Wisconsin State Constitution. ... We are not asking that this milk be able to be sold in the nearest grocery store, as wonderful and convenient as that would be. No, all we want is to be left alone. This government is supposed to protect our liberties, but instead it's taking them away."

West emphasized, "In the last several years, the family farm has become an endangered species. There have been undercover stings and raids on family farmers, and all over what? Milk! Vernon could go to jail for distributing milk! ... I can feed my kids soda pop and candy bars all day long. Is it healthy? No. Is it legal? Yes. I can give my kids fresh milk from a local farm. Is it healthy? Yes. Is it legal? No."

See PRWatch.org for more.



The Raw Milk Raid Timeline provides a timeline of government raids of farmers and others selling and/or distributing raw milk.


  • Spring: Organic Pastures, California: "Without notice, the FDA in association with state agencies visited Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) and carried out a multi-day investigation. The initial authority provided at arrival was suggested that the FDA was visiting to look at cheese production. On the second day of the inspection/ investigation an FDA investigator (Special Agent Jennifer King) was found secretly and illegally rapidly taking pictures of customer files of PET food sales and colostrum sales. OPDC demanded that the FDA leave and return the next day so that OPDC attorneys could respond to the illegal and unauthorized taking of customer data and file information. The FDA was found illegally operating outside of its jurisdiction, they were very embarrassed and did not return for five years."[1]


  • August: Amos Miller Food, Pennsylvania: "Amos Miller Food was red tagged and embargoed. Aajonus Vonderplanitz, later co-founder of Rawesome Foods, ghost writes motion to quash. Judge throws the case out of court and quashes the complaint against Amos Miller. Miller continues supplying food."[1]


  • February: Greg Niewendorp, Michigan: February: Greg Niewendorp sends legal notice to Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), alienating his property and notifying of non-compliance in the state’s unlawful, dangerous experimental TB cattle testing and eradication program. MDA quarantine’s his farm.
  • August 21: Two state police trespass on Niewendorp’s property – with a state vet in wait around the corner – to coerce him into testing. Niewendorp escorts them off the property
  • October 7: The state vet, enforcement agents, and representatives of the MDA, warrant in hand, with police and SWAT teams standing by down the road, trespass on Niewendorp’s farm, forcing his cattle to be used for the state’s experimental program and RFID ear-tagged for the National Animal Identification System.


  • April 2010: Dan Allgyer's Rainbow Acres Farm in Pennsylvania raided at 5am by the FDA with the U.S. Marshals and a state police trooper, following a months-long operation by an undercover investigator.[4]
  • June 2, 2010: Vernon Herschberger's Grazin' Acres Farm raided by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He cuts the seals on his coolers and reopens his private farm store for business the next day.[5][6][7]
  • June 30, 2010: Rawesome Foods and its supplier, Healthy Family Farms, LLC, are raided and dairy products are seized.[8]


  • August 3, 2011: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the California Franchise Tax Board, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and police raid Rawesome Foods (Los Angeles, CA) and arrests James Cecil Stewart, Sharon Ann Palmer, and Eugenie Bloch.[9] Leading up to both raids, the Los Angeles County District Attorney "employed at least three paid informants to join Rawesome...They were to join and become part of the community and report back on what was happening." There were also, separately "at least half a dozen undercover investigators," and "the investigators mounted secret 'pole cameras' within the tiny food club in Venice, CA, to film members in the club picking up food." Defense lawyer Ajna Sharma-Wilson says, "They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on informants and undercover agents. . . . They've spent millions on the whole case."[10]

Read more here.




Raw Milk news

  • Dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger receives $1,000 fine in raw milk case: "A Sauk County[, Wisconsin] dairy farmer who has gained national fame in the raw-milk debate avoided jail time and probation in his sentencing . . . for a crime stemming from a raid on his Grazin' Acres farm" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/13/13).

For more news, please see Raw Milk News.


Selected article

Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinances, first drafted in four towns in Hancock County, Maine, are town ordinances establishing local food governance in response to increased federal regulation via the "Food Safety Modernization Act."[11] Residents who drafted the ordinances in 2010 and 2011 feared that the new law, which President Obama signed on January 4th, 2011, could shut down cottage producers of jam and pickles made from backyard garden produce and church pot lucks without these local ordinances to protect them.[12][13]

Read more here!.


Selected picture

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Jersey mix cow with brand new calf at pasture-based farm (Source: Rebekah Wilce)

Raw Milk Studies


"Selected video"

Fresh Milk Food Politics Interview: Nadine Ijaz (from Road Kill Radio News)

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Related portals


Contact the Food Rights Network

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Raw Milk Resources

PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Government Overreach, Grassfed on The Hill, accessed September 13, 2011
  2. David Gumpert, A Raw-Milk Raid Leads to a Special Thanksgiving: After a Kentucky raw-milk farmer gets busted in Ohio, his shareholders decide to help run the farm and its distribution business, BusinessWeek, November 27, 2006
  3. David Gumpert, States Target Raw-Milk Farmers: Michigan is the latest to bust a provider of unprocessed milk—and its heavy-handed tactics may put three small farms out of business, BusinessWeek, October 19, 2006
  4. Stephen Dinan, Feds sting Amish farmer selling raw milk locally: Cite interstate commerce violation, Washington Times, April 28, 2011
  5. Chris Woodard, Raw Milk Raid: One day after his farm is raided and authorities tell him to shut things down a local farmer is still selling raw milk, NBC 15, June 3, 2010
  6. Mr. Augie, ALERT: Wisconsin Family Food Ministries Raided for Raw Milk– Defying Orders, Journal of Natural Food and Health, June 3, 2010
  7. Chris Rickert, Raw milk advocates decry raid on farm, LaCrosse Tribune, June 4, 2010
  8. David Gumpert, Authorities, Including FBI, Raid Aajonus Vonderplanitz' CA Buying Club and Raw Dairy Herdshare in New Buying Group Assault; He Orders Staff to Stay Open, Ignore Red Tag, The Complete Patient blog, July 1, 2010
  9. David Gumpert, Major New Escalation in War on Food Rights As Federal and Local Agencies Team to Arrest 3 in CA on Criminal Charges Associated with Rawesome Food Club, The Complete Patient blog, August 3, 2011
  10. David Gumpert, Rawesome Investigators Used Paid Informants, Pole Cameras--Prosecutor "Doesn't Want Raw Milk, She Wants Blood", The Complete Patient blog, October 7, 2011
  11. Rich Hewitt, Farmers seek to protect locally grown foods, Bangor Daily News, February 24, 2011
  12. Deirdre Fulton, Free our food, Portland Phoenix, May 4, 2011
  13. Kyle Curtis, Keeping the Church Potluck Legal and Free: Will the "Food Sovereignty" Movement Take Hold in Oregon?, BlueOregon, April 24, 2011

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