KATY, Texas — Buying raw milk can now lead to a police raid in Texas. At least two raw milk transactions have been broken up by officers and health inspectors in the Lone Star State in the past few months.
“They just make everyone nervous,” farmer Bob Stryk said of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which has been a nuisance to raw milk sales.
In early July, 50 of Stryk’s customers were targets of a police raid in the parking lot of the Holy Apostles Church in Katy, a Dallas suburb. The raid was the result of an anonymous tip to DSHS, The Houston Chronicle reported.
“I know there are two sides and we’ve got rules,” raw milk lover Greg White told the newspaper. “But you feel like a criminal.”
White was in the parking lot when sheriff’s deputies and county health inspectors arrived to break up the milk sale.
Under Texas law and regulations, people can buy raw milk, or they can get someone to pick it up for them. The question now is: What exactly is getting people in trouble?
“What has been OK in the past — if friends want to rotate [who picks up the milk], that’s OK,” Chris Van Deusen, a DSHS spokesperson, told the Chronicle. “But it appears to be larger now, in the hundreds. The source of concern is the scale, which is different from the past.”
But the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, which advocates for independent farmers, said the transactions are perfectly legal.
“The ability to designate someone to act on your behalf, as your agent, is a fundamental principle of law that goes back centuries,” said Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “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.”
Incredibly, “in this latest incident, a sheriff’s deputy told one of the customers that they’d been pulled off a domestic dispute case in order to break up the milk delivery,” McGeary said.
Not the First Time
An earlier incident is just as disturbing.
A grainy screen capture from a video of the raw milk raid at an Austin private home.
On May 26, an unmarked police car blocked a courier van and a customer’s car in the driveway of a private Austin home, the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance reported. Four inspectors from the Austin Health Department and DSHS then told the group of raw milk customers that they could not have the milk – despite the fact that it already had been purchased.
“One of the inspectors confronted the woman who had organized the group drop-off and demanded that she provide her driver’s license,” the Alliance said in a summary on its website. “When she hesitated, the inspector called a policeman over and then started to take pictures of her car with her children in it. After the woman broke down in tears, the inspector continued to question her to try to find out the names and locations of other drop points.”
The dairy is two hours away, and the customers had hired the courier to bring it to them.
“By involving the police and actually stopping people from getting their food, these incidents represent a new level of government hostility towards raw milk that is not based on any science or real health issues” McGeary said. “There have been only six illnesses over the last twenty years linked to raw milk in Texas. This harassment of farmers and consumers is completely unjustified.”
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