Federal agents watched the home closely for a year, gathering evidence. Then, in a pre-dawn raid, armed members from three agencies swooped in.
No, this is not a retelling of the lightning U.S. commando attack in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. Rather, the target of the raid late last month by U.S. marshals, a state police trooper and inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was Amish farmer Dan Allgyer of Kinzers, Pa. His so-called “crime” involved nothing more than providing unpasteurized, or raw, dairy milk to eager consumers here in the Washington area.
Well, that seems like an overreaction. I wrote about raw milk in 2010, and was surprised by the depth of feeling on both sides. On balance, I think raw milk sales should be allowed. Pasteurization mitigates the risk of food-borne illness, but people can decide for themselves if they want to chance it.
The other argument against raw milk, from Big Dairy, that an outbreak of illness related to raw milk could damage the industry more generally, but that risk is one we routinely accept with other forms of food, and the dairy lobby, of course, might have an ulterior motive. Allowing raw milk sales, that is, helps small farmers. It's a little bit hard to say how big the market is, as it's largely illicit, but if a farmer sells milk to a distributor, they get about $1.40 a gallon for it. If they sell it directly to the consumer as the premium product of raw milk, they can charge $5 or $6 a gallon. So even though running a raw milk operation has some extra costs--you have to pay for licensing and testing--it would be a boost to small operators. And they could use a boost: