A Maryland creamery is suing the federal government over what it’s telling them to put in their “all-natural” milk.
The farmers refuse to pour vitamin serum into their milk. So, the government says it must be labelled “imitation milk product.”
For more than 30 years, early every morning, farm owners Randy and Karen Sowers have been milking more than 100 dairy cows.
Later in the morning, their employees at South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland sanitize and bottle the milk.
But one thing the Sowers refuse to do is to add in the government-mandated vitamins to skim milk.
“You buy it by the gallon,” Randy Sowers says. “You draw it up in a syringe and squirt it in a tank and mix it up. But that’s not what we’re about. We’re about all natural.”
Whole milk includes Vitamins A and D. Cut out the fat to make skim milk and you cut out the two vitamins. Federal regulations say farmers need to buy and pour vitamin serum into their milk to make skim milk have as many vitamins as whole milk.
“Milk is the most perfect food in every way,” Randy Sowers says. “It’s got calcium and riboflavin and all these things naturally in there that your body can absorb and use where a product that you put in there that’s man made or extracted is not the same.”
While they can sell skim milk in Maryland, the Food and Drug Administration requires the Sowers family to label their skim milk as “imitation milk product” if they want to sell it across state lines.
The Sowers refuse. And with the help of the Institute for Justice, a legal advocacy group, they are suing the FDA in federal court.
“It is not imitation,” Karen Sowers says. “It is the real thing.”
The FDA declined to answer our questions about the Sowers lawsuit, pointing us to read federal regulations about fortifying milk with vitamins.
The USDA led the effort to require Vitamins A and D in milk during the 1930’s to fight back against child bone diseases.
Dairy farming is a daily struggle.
“We want to do the midnight milking,” Karen Sowers says. “We usually get up pretty easy compared to getting up a second time, it’s our harder time getting up at the 8:30 one.”
And the Sowers look to pass their farm onto family. But before that, there’s one more struggle, which could have legal impact for farmers nationwide.