Govt Overreacts to Raw Milk

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 05:10 PM

By Chris Freind

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Sorry to disappoint, but the presidential election may prove anti-climatic, since it appears the federal government has solved all its problems.

Why? Well, based on all the resources the feds are putting into the eradication of a mammoth problem, one that strikes fear in the heart of citizens, it would seem its other troubles have been resolved. It’s an issue of such importance that pollsters surely find it at the top of every survey: The production, sale, and voluntary consumption of raw milk.

The threat is so great that armed federal officials find it necessary to routinely raid farms that produce that product. And rightly so, since the incidence of bovine malfeasance has obviously surpassed that of drug dealers, child predators, and murderers.

The latest saga involved armed federal agents who, after months of “investigation,” raided an Amish farm whose owner was allegedly selling raw milk across state lines. After assessing civil penalties, the government is now trying to shut down the farmer’s operation (in federal court).

It’s another example of a government out of control, with gun-toting storm troopers swooping down on a citizen’s property. And there’s little doubt it came about because the powerful dairy lobby once again flexed its political muscle, demanding that this increasingly popular practice be squashed. Given the 10 million raw milk drinkers in the United States, why else would so much attention be given to such an innocuous business?

At issue is whether raw milk is dangerous for human consumption because of the potential presence of E. coli and salmonella, as opposed to pasteurized milk that kills such bacteria. Raw milk advocates, both producers and consumers, claim that milk in its raw, natural form, helps the human body maintain healthiness. They state that during the pasteurization process, key proteins are destroyed that promote digestion and improve the immune system.

Even though federal officials counter that the bacteria in raw milk can be deadly, people across the country go out of their way to obtain such milk. Not only have they lived to tell their story, but most claim they and their children are significantly healthier. In the past decade, only two deaths have been linked to raw milk, and even they were suspect.

Given that raw milk is legal to sell in 29 states, and in the others, there are many legal loopholes to do so, such as labeling the milk for animal consumption, and selling “cow-shares” so that owners are entitled to a percentage of the cow’s yield, such heavy-handed conduct from federal officials is troublesome.

If government is going to interfere in people's lives and threaten livelihoods, they should be consistent. It certainly wouldn’t make their decision right, but at least they would avoid the appearance of favoritism. If the issue is raw food potentially containing “harmful” bacteria, then many more businesses should be concerned about government raids.

So why aren’t the feds closing restaurants that serve sushi, or at least banning it? Sushi, loved by millions, is simply raw fish. And the best sushi is categorized as the “highest grade” fish.

While that sounds like class warfare in the pelagic community, “highest grade” fish is still served raw, and can contain bacteria, parasites, and mercury.

What about possibly contracting hepatitis from raw seafood — even when in a five-star restaurant? And do we ban steak tartare (made with raw beef) as well as Caesar dressing (concocted with raw eggs)?

The citrus and vegetable industries have problems too, given the occasional presence of E. coli, due in part to manure-laden irrigation water and fertilizer.

So let’s ban tomatoes, too. Oh wait, the FDA did that several years ago after announcing a salmonella outbreak, except that there was no evidence that tomatoes were the offending food. After completely decimating an entire industry, the FDA (Federal Destruction Administration) cavalierly announced that it didn’t actually know what caused the outbreak.

The specter of bureaucrats who are 52 cards short of a deck, yet hold the power to destroy Americans’ lives — with no repercussion when they are wrong — is simply un-American. And the fact that Congress and administrations allow such intrusion to go unchecked makes the sin mortal.

Government clearly has more important priorities than trying to put raw milk producers out of business. If people want to drink it, they should be able to do so without fear of prosecution.

Maybe our government could enforce existing laws designed to keep us safe, but are routinely ignored. Spending no more than it takes in and sealing the border come to mind.

A wise man once wrote that government should be “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Well-funded lobbies controlling an ever-intrusive government is not what Mr. Lincoln had in mind.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist and television commentator who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com









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