The federal government has told a Maryland dairy farmer he will be fined and could be closed down if he doesn’t agree to its redefinition of his very real skim milk as “imitation skim milk.”
And he’s not happy about it.
The Institute for Justice is defending Randy and Karen Sowers of South Mountain Creamery in court.
The couple wants to sell to consumers skim milk, meaning, as has been understood for centuries, milk with the cream skimmed off.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided that it can only be called “skim milk” if he adds chemicals.
The Institute for Justice asked: “Does the government have the power to override common sense and force American businesses to lie to their consumers? According to a First Amendment lawsuit that South Mountain Creamery and the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed today against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in federal court, the answer is: Absolutely not.”
Only Kafka could have generated such a regulation, the lawyers concluded.
“If farmers like Randy Sowers and his wife Karen of South Mountain Creamery want to sell pasteurized, all-natural skim milk without added chemicals, the federal government forces them to lie to customers by labeling it as ‘imitation skim milk’ or ‘imitation milk product,'” the organization reported.
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“The government does not have the power to change the meaning of words or ignore common sense,” said Justin Pearson, a senior lawyer for the institute.
“The FDA is creating confusion where there was none whatsoever. People know what skim milk means, but they have no idea what ‘imitation milk product’ means. Pure, all-natural skim milk is not an ‘imitation’ of anything.”
The dairy’s products include milk, yogurt and cheese.
“Last fall, Randy contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to find out whether he could sell all-natural skim milk without added chemicals as ‘skim milk’ in Pennsylvania. State officials have no objection to the commonsense use of the term, ‘skim milk,’ but because Randy wants to sell in multiple states, they are forced to follow federal regulations. That means Randy’s plan is a no-go, thanks to the FDA. So he’s taking his fight to court,” the institute said.
“I just want to sell the purest, most natural skim milk possible without being forced to confuse my customers,” he said in a statement released by the lawyers. “I’ve already fought the federal government before, when the IRS stole my money using civil forfeiture. Now I’m ready to fight back against the federal government again for my right to honestly market my milk.”
In the earlier case, IJ said, the IRS seized $60,000 from the Sower’s farm, mainly because they were doing business in cash.
Eventually, the IRS returned the money and made changes to its enforcement practices, IJ said.
“Milk contains healthy vitamins and minerals that are naturally stored in either water or fat. Because skim milk is made by removing the fat from whole milk, skim milk has more water-soluble nutrients like calcium but lacks fat-soluble vitamins A and D. The FDA requires dairy farmers to add synthetic versions of those lost vitamins to skim milk in order to label skim milk as ‘skim milk,'” the institute said.
“Without the fat of whole milk, the vitamins break down in skim milk before reaching consumers. In other words, the FDA manages to confuse American milk drinkers without providing any health benefits.”
The case, the institute said, is part of its National Food Freedom Initiative, which focuses on property rights, economic liberty and free speech challenges in the production and sale of food.