Whole Life Buying Club, Kentucky

Case-WLBC-600x626By Pete Kennedy, Esq.

Update, Summer 2011

On May 27 an inspector from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness stopped off at a dropsite for the Whole Life Buying Club (WLBC), issuing the coordinator for the site an order to cease and desist distribution of unpasteurized milk from that location due to alleged violations of the state food code and dairy code. The sale of raw milk is prohibited under Kentucky law; WLBC obtains raw milk pursuant to a herd lease agreement it has signed with a farm in the state.

The inspector followed up the cease and desist order with a notice and order of quarantine of “all milk productions [at the site] until such time they are shown to be compliance with FDA and State of Kentucky Food Code.” The quarantine was issued on behalf of the Kentucky Cabinet of Human Resources, Department for Health Services. Both the quarantine and cease-and-desist orders were made out to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The drop-site coordinator had been speaking with Gary Cox, General Counsel for the Fund when the inspector was present.

The members of WLBC responded courageously to the government interference with the club’s raw milk distribution. A piece of paper was placed on the cooler containing the milk at the site; the paper stated, “I, the undersigned, hereby declare that I have taken my milk that comes from cows I own via private contract under the protection of the KY constitution (Articles 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 16, 26), and if the county health department would like to speak with me about this matter, I can be reached at the number given below.” Before the day was over, about forty members of WLBC had signed the statement and taken their raw milk from the site.

In the days following the defiance of the quarantine, the WLBC members’ actions received considerable support in the media and among other like-minded groups in Kentucky. Pressure was put on the Louisville and state departments of health by state legislators as well. On June 3 an official from the department delivered a letter rescinding the cease and desist and quarantine orders to John Moody, co-administrator for WLBC. The actions of the WLBC members show the importance of a united consumer front in moving government officials to acknowledge, whether they want to or not, the right of individuals to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice.

Pete Kennedy

Pete Kennedy is an attorney from Sarasota, Florida and president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (farmtoconsumer.org). He compiled the state milk laws posted at realmilk.com. He advises many farmers and members about legal issues surrounding raw milk.

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