Raw milk farm raided again

(Chambersburg Public Opinion, PA)

By JIM HOOK

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture again has seized raw milk at Mark S. Nolt's farm near Newville, confiscating $20,000 worth of milk, cheese, yogurt and other raw dairy product.

 

"Mr. Nolt is continuing to sell raw milk and raw milk products without a permit to do such," said department spokesman Chris Ryder. "None of that is legal to sell."

 

Around 10 a.m. Friday the state confiscated raw milk and products made from raw milk -- including yogurt, cheese and cream -- from the Wenger Mennonite's farm.

 

The seizure, worth $20,000, brings to $70,000 in milk products and equipment the state has taken from Nolt's farm in the past three raids, according to Jonas Stoltzfus, a friend and spokesman for the Mennonite farmer. The Nolt family has been forced to purchase milk and cheese from a neighboring farm for their own use.

 

Raw milk has not been pasteurized, or heat-treated to kill bacteria and then cooled. Potentially beneficial bacteria and enzymes, along with any pathogens, thrive in raw milk.

 

Government agencies do not recommend consumption of raw milk, but a growing number of consumers consider raw milk a natural, beneficial food. Many drive from the Washington-metro area to buy raw milk on Pennsylvania farms.

 

The state Department of Agriculture regulates the sale of raw milk.

 

The state has no jurisdiction to interfere in a private business doing business by private contract, said Stoltzfus, president of the Pennsylvania Independent Consumers and Farmers Association.

 

"He has a Constitutional right to do what he is doing," Stoltzfus said.

 

In June Magisterial District Judge Vivian Cohick found Nolt guilty of three counts of selling raw milk products without a permit. Nolt has appealed a prior conviction to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

 

Meanwhile, the state continues to send agents attempting to buy raw milk at Nolt's farm. One agent told Nolt he was acquainted to Stoltzfus, Stoltzfus said.

 

"We have constant entrapment going on here," Stoltzfus said. "They won't quit. We have a state that doesn't have enough to so it picks on a guy like Mark? It's unconscionable."

 

Nolt, a father of 10 children who drives a buggy, has said he did not renew his 2006 state permit to sell raw milk products because Pennsylvania's permit does not allow a permit holder to sell butter and soft cheeses made from raw milk. Only raw milk and aged, hard raw-milk cheeses are permitted to be sold. 9-12-08

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