A dairy farmer in Hill County, Texas, who serves a growing raw milk customer base, was slapped with a $3,000 fine from a city some 40 miles away, but he questions whether his sales even violated the law.
Here's the deal:
Eldon Hooley with Rosey Ridge Farms sells raw milk to customers from his farm.
"When it leaves the farm, it's bought and paid for, and in the hands of the consumer," he told WFAA-TV, which noted that he has a license to sell the products in this way.
The current issue is that his milk apparently made it to a co-op in the city of Fort Worth.
"I never delivered anything to Fort Worth," Hooley told the news station.
Earlier this year, Fort Worth's city council approved an ordinance that prohibited the "distribution of unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized milk products without a Grade A Raw for Retail Permit from the State of Texas."
Rosey Ridge Farms lists several co-ops that might carry its products on its website. Several of these co-ops are in cities that are suburbs of Fort Worth and at least one seems to fall within city limits.
Hooley maintains that because his products are sold to consumers when they leave the farm that he is not considered a distributor.
"I'm looking at getting a lawyer, and have had lots of support," Hooley told WFAA.
Watch the news station's report:
According to Fort Worth Weekly, Hooley appeared in municipal court last week regarding the charges against him and will appear again on Nov. 25. He doesn't consider himself "fighting" the charges but "'defending' myself," he told the newspaper.
"This guy’s just trying to raise his family and run a farm, and he is being demonized," Thomas Martin with the advocacy group Farm to Market Legal Defense Fund said, according to the Fort Worth Weekly. "I find it to be outrageous and a cause worth fighting for."
In August, Hooley told the Fort Worth Weekly that the ordinance passed in June is the city saying "We’re going to take your rights away." He added at the time that the Texas Department of State Health Services previously suspended his license without due process, which he filed a complaint about. After this, he said got an apology and his license back.
Neither Rosey Ridge Farms nor the city of Fort Worth's code compliance department immediately responded to request for comment from TheBlaze.
Raw milk is a dairy product that is not pasteurized, which some say comes with added health benefits in its unaltered form. Many health officials though, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warn that eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy products can make people sick because they could carry bacteria.
"Many people who chose raw milk thinking they would improve their health instead found themselves (or their loved ones) sick in a hospital for several weeks fighting for their lives from infections caused by germs in raw milk," the CDC's website stated.
Hooley maintained to WFAA though that he runs a "very clean, raw milk operation," serving customers who want to "get back to real food again."
Front page image via Shutterstock.