The order of a federal judge has finally shut down Rainbow Acres Farm, the raw milk dairy located near Washington D.C. in Pennsylvania’s Amish County.
It ends a nasty confrontation between Dan and Rachel Allgyer, Amish dairy farmers with operations based in Pennsylvania where commercial sales of raw milk are legal, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which caught Rainbow making deliveries inside Maryland and the District of Columbia.
A spokesman for FDA praised the judge’s action, pointing to past warnings ignored by Rainbow Acres to cease interstate sales of raw milk.
FDA’s investigation began in 2009 when one of its Baltimore-based agents joined a club, via the Internet, that promised delivery of Rainbow Acres raw milk to a Maryland home.
While some states allow raw milk sales, federal law prohibits it from interstate commerce. FDA’s controversial investigation of Rainbow Acres included an undercover string operation and a pre-dawn raid.
Since the controversy began, the Amish dairy farmer picked up many supporters in a campaign with national implications. The most prominent was Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the raw milk drinker who happens to be a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for President.
Before FDA’s case against Allgyers played out, Paul proposed a bill to make interstate sales of raw milk legal. Paul never said he was getting raw milk from the Amish dairy, but during the course of the dispute it came out that a Washington D.C.-based Grassfed On the Hill Buying Club was being supplied by Rainbow Acres.
Deliveries to about 500 club members meant crossing the state and district lines that make up the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
The buying group’s statement confirmed that Rainbow Acres is closing down in reaction to the order by federal Judge Lawrence F. Stengel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, based in Philadelphia.
“Dan and Rachel Allgyer have determined that they will discontinue service to our group and close down the farm,” the buyer’s club said in a statement. “Dan has served many of us for more than six years and he is very saddened to have to make this decision but the stress and strain that his family has been under for the past few years due to the case and no the decision leaves them with no choice.”
The twin violations of mislabeling the milk and use of interstate commerce to make sales were enough for Judge Stengel to sign the permanent injunction against the Lancaster-based dairy.
Stengel, a former Lancaster Catholic High School teacher who was appointed to the federal court in 2004 by President George W. Bush, warned the Allgyers that if they resumed operations, the next time the court would impose fines equalling the FDA’s investigative costs.
After that, Rainbow Acres told customers it was out of business. Its supporters continue to point out its raw milk was never found to be contaminated. The same multistate area, however, is currently experiencing a Campylobacter outbreak associated with another Pennsylvania raw milk dairy farm.