by Ethan A. Huff, Intellihub:
Buying milk about as close to nature as it gets – directly from the cow – is still a punishable offense in many areas of the U.S., and residents of the Houston, Texas, suburb of Katy were reminded of this recently, after being paid a visit by police officers for the “crime” of buying and selling raw dairy products on private property.
According to reports, county health inspectors in cahoots with a police entourage raided a raw milk exchange taking place in the parking lot of Holy Apostles Church, a drop-off point where area residents come to pick up raw milk they’ve legally purchased from nearby farms. Sheriff’s deputies broke up the gathering, despite the fact that it in no way violates the law concerning raw milk sales in Texas.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) admits that buying raw milk directly from the farm is perfectly legal, as is having one person go to pick up that milk for a larger group of buyers in order to distribute it more efficiently. But, because the practice has gotten so popular – retail raw milk sales are illegal in Texas, increasing demand for exchange clubs – the DSHS is intervening.
“I know there are two sides and we’ve got rules, but you feel like a criminal,” raw milk lover Greg White told The Houston Chronicle following the raid.
Responding to requests for a statement as to why it decided to interfere with this perfectly harmless activity of buying fresh milk and distributing it to buyers, DSHS stated that it received an anonymous tip and decided to pounce. The operation has gotten “larger now,” DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen told the media, and the scale has suddenly become a “source of concern” for the department.
But the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FRFA), which advocates for the independent farmers that sell raw milk from their private property, insists that milk exchanges like the one that takes place at Holy Apostles Church are completely legal and within the scope of Texas state law.
“The ability to designate someone to act on your behalf, as your agent, is a fundamental principle of law that goes back centuries,” Judith McGeary, executive director of FRFA, stated. “There is no basis for the government to say that my agent can’t do something that would be legal for me to do myself – such as pick up milk from a licensed dairy and bring it back to town.”
Police deserve our respect, but not when they interfere with constitutionally-guarded liberties
Even so, the Texas government continues to interfere with raw milk sales all across the state, with earlier reports from back in May indicating that this isn’t the first time that milk exchanges have been raided. On May 26, an unmarked police car appeared in the driveway of a private home in Austin where milk is distributed, and the officer driving it decided to block those picking up their milk from pulling out to go home.
The officer reportedly demanded that one of the women who organizes the exchange furnish her driver’s license, even though he had no reasonable suspicion of a crime or probable cause to warrant the request. When she hesitated, the officer called another officer over, who began to intimidate the woman by taking pictures of her vehicle with her children in it, at which she began to cry.
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