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Now the Amish are smuggling across borders.

Discussion in 'Politics, Elections & Legislation' started by Brian in Oregon, Feb 5, 2011.

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  1. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Can't this administration close ANY borders from smuggling?

    AMISH SMUGGLERS' SHADY MILK RUN

    Farmers bring their unpasteurized — and illegal — product to the big city

    By Jordan Heller Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Wearing a black-brimmed country hat, suspenders and an Amish beard, "Samuel" unloaded his contraband from an unmarked white truck on a busy block in Manhattan. He was at the tail end of a long smuggling run that had begun before dawn at his Pennsylvania farm.

    As he wearily stacked brown cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, a few upscale clients in the Chelsea neighborhood lurked nearby, eyeing the new shipment hungrily.

    Clearly, they couldn’t wait to get a taste.

    But he wasn’t selling them anything they planned to smoke, snort or inject. Rather, he was giving them their once-a-month fix of raw milk — an unpasteurized product banned outright in 12 states and denounced by the FDA as a public health hazard, but beloved by a small but growing number of devotees who tout both its health benefits and its flavor.

    Samuel is part of a shadowy community of outlaw Amish and Mennonite dairy farmers who risk fines, loss of equipment and product, and even imprisonment to transport raw milk across state lines and satisfy a burgeoning appetite for illegal raw milk in places like New York.In January, The Daily rode along on one of these smuggling runs.

    Federal Dairy Warnings

    Unpasteurized milk is increasingly popular among foodies and health nuts for both its taste and its supposed nutritional benefits. But government authorities take a hard line, warning that unpasteurized milk may contain salmonella, E. coli and bacteria that can lead to typhoid fever and tuberculosis.

    “Raw milk is inherently dangerous and it should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any purpose,” says the Food and Drug Administration.

    According to the agency, from 1998 to 2008, raw milk consumption was responsible for 1,614 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and two fatalities. In a handful of states, including New York and Pennsylvania, only farmers with a special permit are allowed to sell it, and federal regulation prohibits all interstate commerce of raw milk intended for human consumption.

    Not that the prohibition deters the growing number of raw-milk fans. When he brings a shipment of illegal milk to New York, Samuel has more than 140 customers waiting for him, ready to pay $6 a gallon.

    Samuel’s smuggling run started in Pennsylvania's Amish country, where his family farm is located. As Amish doctrine prohibits him from operating an automobile, he paid a non-Amish person to drive.

    The final destination was an unmarked converted factory on the eastern edge of Chelsea. Upstairs, the milk deals went down in an unadorned room teeming with a crowd similar to what one might find at a Michael Pollan book signing.

    Samuel is well-aware that he’s breaking the law. I asked him what he thought of a 2008 raid on Manna Storehouse, a Mennonite-run co-op in Lorain County, Ohio. According to reports, the family was held at gunpoint while agents searched the premises for unpasteurized dairy products. I also asked him about an incident last summer, when authorities busted Rawesome Foods, a raw milk-share in Venice, Calif. The police had arrived with guns drawn, as if they were raiding a meth lab. The security footage was uploaded to YouTube, alarming many in the raw milk community.

    “Yeah, I heard about that,” he said. “It’s not good.”

    Does he worry about the same thing happening to his Pennsylvania farm?

    “Not too much,” said Samuel. But as he looks around at all the milk jugs changing hands like so many nickel and dime bags, he reconsiders.

    “I mean, it could.”

    Churning out the product

    In mid-January, I paid a visit to Amish country to explore the roots of the raw milk supply chain. The dairy farm I visited was run by Isaac, an Amish raw milk black-marketer who, like Samuel, agreed to discuss his operation on the condition that his identity was concealed.

    Isaac’s farm is roughly an hour north west of Philadelphia, not far from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, on a country road well-traveled by horse-drawn buggies.

    Isaac allowed me to walk in his pasture and shoot video of his black-market heifers, but when I ask to shoot the bottling operation, he declined. Isaac was already breaking an Amish restriction by allowing me to videotape him, and was not willing to subject his family — who double as his work force — to the same sin.

    Tom Maurer, a leading raw milk advocate, who is non-Amish and the proprietor of the Real Food Emporium in Palmyra, Pa., joined us in Isaac’s kitchen for a discussion on the rise of the raw milk black market.

    “Let’s put it this way,” said Maurer, a self-described libertarian with a white goatee and red flannel shirt. “I have heard comments about New York state where one of the biggest, underground black-market products is raw milk.”

    Isaac, wearing traditional Amish clothing and an Amish beard, nodded in agreement.

    Maurer dismissed the FDA’s findings on raw milk, saying he’s never heard of anyone getting more than a bellyache from the stuff.

    “Your choice of what you get to eat is a right,” said Mauer. “It’s not a privilege.”

    For Isaac, the issues are cultural. When it comes to dairy farming, becoming a smuggler was the only way to maintain a pure, Amish way of life.“I want my family on the farm,” he said. “I don’t want them out in the world.”

    He wouldn’t be able to make ends meet in his traditional dairy operation if he was operating above board, he said. “We have church restrictions, and our people are losing that because of the way modern dairy farming is being done.”

    He wondered aloud why the state won’t let him pursue his preferred way of life.

    Fighting back

    Isaac has yet to be raided by the authorities, but Mark Nolt, a Mennonite dairy farmer from Cumberland County, is all too familiar with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s enforcement of the law.

    Nolt’s farm was raided three times in 2007 and 2008. On one occasion, state troopers took him away in handcuffs.

    "They even took my cheese-making equipment,” Nolt said over the phone. He puts his losses at $100,000.

    Many in the raw milk community believe law enforcement picks on the Amish and Mennonites because they don’t expect resistance. But when Nolt was taken to magistrate court, he refused to enter a plea because, he said, the court had no business in his dealings. He has similarly refused to pay his fines — $4,000 and counting.

    Nolt’s resistance, which has been well-documented, has earned him a rather grand moniker: “the Rosa Parks of the farmers’ rights movement.”

    Though shy about the comparison, Nolt doesn't disclaim the nickname. “What were we to do? Agree to their falsehood? Or just stand upon the truth? And we chose truth.”

    Getting a taste

    Back in Manhattan, as the raw milk buyers transferred their contraband from brown cardboard boxes to unmarked backpacks and black suitcases, Samuel told me how he goes about circumventing the law.

    By using a transactional contrivance, he argued that he wasn't technically "selling" — his users submit orders beforehand, but the driver acted as a middleman. Samuel didn't seem to have much confidence the loophole would work in the event of a raid, but he still used it.

    Amid the wholesome-looking clientele, the enthusiasm is undeniable.

    "It's a different taste, a different experience," said Kate Zidar, a raw milk user who lives in Brooklyn. She compared penetrating the raw milk circuit to hearing about an underground party, "like a rave."

    I decided, over very serious reservations, that maybe I should give raw milk a try. I asked Samuel if he’d sell me some.

    "I’m helping you out, right?” he said.

    I asked if his "help" might make me sick.

    "You might get bellyache,” Samuel said. But then he reassured me: “Milk is good for you.”
     
  2. Ljutic111

    Ljutic111 TS Member

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    I didn`t read all that was said above but these people piss me off . They pay no taxes , get all the benefits of the federal government to be protected while living here ., most own horse ranches and cattle farms and pay no taxes (did I mention that before) . They have retail businesses in every flea market in the areas selling everything under the sun , Food , vegetables and handcrafts , furniture and sheds plus they come and install pole barns too . Never have I seen or heard of any kid joining the Armed Forces to protect our Country ?? Not that I haven`t bought from them but just the thought of them never contributing a damn thing to America except wanting to profit from everything they have with nothing to give back is just wrong .
     
  3. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    I wonder what the Amish do to make sure their milk is safe. They seem to survive just fine. Drank raw milk when I was a kid.
     
  4. oz

    oz Active Member

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    I bet they don't take any freebies from the govt/us either, ie: subsidies, welfare, food stamps, free this and that. they seem to be hard working people who leave everyone alone
     
  5. GW22

    GW22 Active Member

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    The Amish work hard and leave other people alone. There are only about 1/4 million of them in the whole country and 99% of the people reading this post have more welfare recipients within 1 mile of them than the entire Amish population in total. I grew up around the Amish and, believe me, they're the least of our problems in this country. They're a little rough on their animals but that's the worst thing I could say about them.

    -Gary
     
  6. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    What goes, "Clip clop clip clop BANG BANG BANG clip clop clip clop"?
     
  7. Ohio Bob

    Ohio Bob Member

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    An Amish drive by shooting
     
  8. bigdogtx

    bigdogtx Well-Known Member

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    Funny, I grew up on a dairy drank more than 4 glasses a day. NEVER got salmonella, e. coli etc. I also had less colds/sinusitis/bronchitis/flu while growing up that I have after I could not get the bacteria filled contraband.

    You have no idea just how wonderful homemade ice cream than if you have had it made from RAW cream. The flavor cannot be described....
     
  9. trapshooterjoe7

    trapshooterjoe7 Member

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    Ljutic111, you are wrong on the tax thing, at least in this area they pay taxes just like everyone else. What they don't pay is Social Security, but they don't take any hand outs from the government either, they take care of themselves and each other. As far as the milk goes, i grew up on a farm and we lived on RAW milk and home grown food, needless to say i'm healthier then the average American..

    bigdogtx, i know what you mean, home made ice cream made with raw eggs and fresh raw cream, it don't get any better!!!Joe
     
  10. CalvinMD

    CalvinMD Well-Known Member

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    Funny how the govt can demonize you and turn you into a criminal when they are not able to screw you as hard as they would like....God forbid anyone profiting more than 50% from their own hard labor or hand produced products...us non Amish are the dumb ones in my eyes
     
  11. Bisi

    Bisi TS Member

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    I'm in Indiana so I know a few Amish. You guys haven't lived till you partied with the Amish. trapshooter joe, is correct. They pay income taxes, not social security, but they don't collect SS either.

    They have got a nice little racket though. The Amish have a reputation of building quality products and the public eats up that image. If you ask me the crap they sell is crap. I don't know where the quality is, but the ones around here aren't producing it.

    The first couple of verses from the song "I want to dress in black and white" by the "Electric Amish" pretty much sums it up.

    "You're thinkin that your life is cool, well I'm 14 and I'm done with school"

    "You drive your cars we'll drive our buggies"

    "You go to work in factories. I make a FORTUNE selling quilts and cheese".
     
  12. crusha

    crusha TS Member

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    All right you immigration fans..."what part of ILLEGAL don't you understand?"
     
  13. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    We drank the raw milk. It came out of the cow and was dumped through a paper filter into the large metal cans, which went right into the horse tank which was always cool because it kept getting refreshed.

    I also got the big thrill of turning the handle on the cream separator. Man, that thing was geared absurdly tall. It had 2 spigots, and the cream came out of the small one.

    The whipped cream Grandma made for her home baked raspberry pies was far superior to any I have tasted since.

    HM
     
  14. blkcloud

    blkcloud Active Member

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    A man and his wife returned home after a night one the town, when they arrived there were corn cobs all over the yard in the drive way, up on the roof.. everywhere.. the wife says..what the hell happened?? the husband said.. those dang amish..they have rolled our yard ...
     
  15. blkcloud

    blkcloud Active Member

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    How a many men does it take to satisify a amish woman?? two-men-a-night
     
  16. blkcloud

    blkcloud Active Member

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    I have ran a machine shop for 30 years.. and I try to keep it preey clean.. one day two of the STINKINGEST amish i have ever smelled came in there while they were waiting on the greyhound bus to run.. one of them was chewing tobacco.. he stood there a while and then spit what looked like a half gallon of tobacco spit right in middle of our shop floor... I thought you nasty SOB... before i could say anything the bus pulled up and they left..I sure felt bad for the bus driver.. after they left our shop reeked of dead billy goat smell.. my dad took a torch a nd heated a rod red hot, stuck it in a bucket of oil and smoked the whole place to try and rid our shop of their stinch...
    several years ago tractor supply opened a store here.. the manager of a neighboring county called our manager (and my friend) and told him if any amish come in to follow every step they make, the women would sew pockets under their dresses and rob you blind... I think they have the worst incest rate there is..
     
  17. kehrby

    kehrby Active Member

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    Blkcloud, there are going to be bad apples in any community or group of people you can name but I live with and work with these people and I have yet to meet a dishonest Amishman. They do allow their kids to run wild before they join the church and thats where many of them pick up the tobacco habit. Name one of us that has been able to kick that one without a lot of hard work!

    They are some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Some are personal friends and some even shoot trap on a Saturday afternoon.

    Steve
     
  18. GW22

    GW22 Active Member

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    Most of the derogatory comments above are inaccurate and unjustifiably hateful. As said before, the Amish are decent hardworking people who don't bother anybody. They have a lot more in common with the founding fathers of this country than most people walking around these days. Shame on us if these are the people we choose to malign.

    Please stop.

    -Gary
     
  19. DoubleAuto

    DoubleAuto Well-Known Member

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    My wife and I spent four days in Amish country in Pennsylvania about a year and a half ago. We ate breakfast every morning in a local restaurant where a lot of Amish men came in for breakfast and/or coffee every morning. We spent hours riding the backroads looking at the farms and houses. The thing I could never figure out is what are the limits on the Amish/Mennonites on what technology and products are ok to use and what are not ok to use. The Amish ladies serving food at the restaurant were wearing traditional clothing but wearing modern tennis shoes. These ladies were using a computerized system to handle orders and to print out meal checks. An older Amish man working at a gift shop was filling a soft drink machine and had a walkie-talkie in his back pocket. I have seen Mennonite boys in Tennessee out fishing with Zebco rods and reels around a pond. I can't figure out where they draw the line on what they can and can't use.

    Tried Scapple twice. Not for me.
     
  20. GW22

    GW22 Active Member

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    DA:

    As with many things, the lines of acceptability and Amish culture are sliding a bit, as perhaps they need to in order to keep too many people from leaving the fold. Some Amish roofing crews even use airtools. Mennonites have their own/different limits. In general they are all good people.

    -Gary
     
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