It's not unusual to spot metaphorical cash cows around Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., but real-life dairy cows aren't so commonplace in Congress. On Monday, however, an adult cow was on hand to provide fresh milk and a spectacle, as part of a rally in favor of legalizing the interstate sale of raw milk.
Pro-raw milk advocacy group Grassfed on the Hill organized the event to call attention to Dan Allgyer, an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania who was handed an injunction by the FDA because he was selling raw milk to residents of surrounding areas through a buying club. Grassfed on the Hill said that Allgyer's Rainbow Acres is being shut down after a year-long investigation and sting operation.
The Daily Caller's Mary Katharine Ham attended the rally, and tweeted pictures of the cow — named Morgan, and belonging to Bellevale Farm in Maryland — and attendees. Ham also sampled the raw milk, which was milked on site, about which she tweeted, "tastes like freedom."
Liz Reitzig, one of the protest organizers, told Raw Story that the crowd had been estimated around 400 people.
"I hope it translates into more success for our movement and for farmers and everything," she said. "There are still a lot of people here, and we have the cow and everything, so it's a little hectic."
In a press release prior to the rally, Reitzig called the FDA's actions against Allgyer and their anti-raw milk legislation push "absolutely inexcusable."
“We contract with farmers we know and trust and engage privately with them," she said. "The FDA has no jurisdiction here, and it’s time we stand together and demand that they stop treating our honest farmers like hardened criminals.”
Reitzig said that several members of her group had tried to arrange meetings with FDA officials, to no avail.
"They don't want to meet with us, but we'll continue to try," she said.
Raw milk, which is unpasteurized, is currently banned in 11 states, and interstate sale has been illegal since 1987. The Centers for Disease Control and Federal Department of Agriculture both report that pathogens found in raw milk can cause disease. In 2002, the FDA reported that 200 people in the U.S. had become ill as a direct result of drinking raw milk.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) introduced legislation last week that would make interstate sale of raw milk legal, citing the sting against Allgyer as one of his reasons for doing so.
"Many Americans who the government wishes to deny the ability to purchase unpasteurized milk have done their own research and come to the conclusion that unpasteurized milk is healthier than pasteurized milk," Paul said. "These Americans have the right to consume these products without having the federal government second-guess their judgment about what products best promote health."
Reitzig said that members of her organization would arrange a meeting with Paul to thank him for sponsoring the legislation.
"It's important that we be able to choose our food from farmers that we know, and people need to know about the unnecessary actions of the FDA," Reitzig said.
Creative Commons image via flickr user publicenergy