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Farmers vs. Feds: Raw-Milk Fight

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Farm Issues page, Raw Milk page, Maryland News page, and our Pennsylvania News page.

In the predawn fog of an April morning last year, armed federal agents fanned out across darkened Lancaster County pastures in search of contraband.

Months of investigation had led to this point. Strong evidence suggested that Rainbow Acres - a small Amish farm just outside Kinzers - served as the hub of a large-scale smuggling operation responsible for shipping hundreds of gallons of illicit product across state lines.

After sweeping past dozing cattle and roosters waiting to crow, the agents finally found what they had come for: dozens of coolers filled with unpasteurized milk.

That 2010 raid resulted in civil sanctions filed last month against farm owner Daniel Allgyer. But the case has also fueled a growing debate between the federal government and the estimated nine million American consumers of a product they call "raw milk." 

Since 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stepped up enforcement against dairy farmers whose product, the agency says, poses a significant risk to public health. And Pennsylvania - the country's fifth-largest dairy producer and home to many traditional Amish and Mennonite farms - has become a flash point for the conflict.