After Nearly 300 Years, Can Lawton’s Farm Survive Local Regulators Out to Crush Raw Milk?

Steam rises as Terri Lawton cleans her milk production facility.Lawton's Family Farm in Foxborough, MA, is one of the oldest farms in the U.S., the only remaining dairy of any kind in the Boston area’s Norfolk county. As such, it has survived revolution, hurricanes, economic depression.

But can it survive local regulators out to crush raw milk?

Lawton’s Family Farm got its start in 1732, when the Lawton family was bequeathed thousands of prime land by the Britain’s King George. Now in its 13th generation of the Lawton family, the farm has shrunk via divisions among family members and land sales to 25 acres. It sits less than two miles from Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots.  

Since the 1980s, it sold its milk through conventional channels. Eight years ago, it began yet another transition in its long history-- from conventional dairy to raw dairy, which it completed in just the last few years, to avoid joining thousands of other conventional dairies around the country, the 90% that have disappeared since 1970  due to brutal consolidation and low milk prices. 

But now it faces the biggest crisis in its nearly 300-year history as it finds itself face-to-face with forces that over that long history have usurped huge power over our lives: petty bureaucrats who have decided they don’t like the way the food the Lawton family produces. It’s an America far removed from that in which the Lawton family began farming--one in which a few people revel in small powers that allow them to shuffle papers and manipulate rules so as to deprive their neighbors of their very livelihood and of access to healthy local food, all the while earning nice paychecks and working toward comfortable retirement pensions. 

Prior to moving the farm into the raw milk business, Terri Lawton, 33, spent two years as a dairy inspector for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. She left, she says, because “I didn’t want to make old men cry any more” when they had trouble keeping their dairies up to regulations and she had to penalize them.  

I wrote a lengthy article about Lawton’s Family Farm five years ago, for the Boston Globe Magazine. At the time, the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources praised Terri Lawton for having “gone above and beyond” the state’s safety guidelines. 

For reasons still not clear, the Foxborough Health Department decided it needed to intrude itself into the raw milk regulatory process--currently overseen by the commonwealth of Massachusetts--and is proposing tough new regulations for Lawton’s Family Farms' raw milk, beyond what the state requires. The new regs seem designed to create enough new expenses and uncertainty that Terri Lawton may well call it quits for the farm. In a letter to customers last week, Lawton wrote: "Our Health Agent is VERY anti-raw-milk and vows to get rid of your choice by making these regulations so extreme as to be difficult to maintain and sell….These town regulations will likely put us out of business." 

I put in a call to the health agent, Pauline Clifford, last week, but she didn’t return my call. (Maybe you’ll do better: here is her contact info:, 508-543-1207. On emails, please cc:

Lawton wonders why the town is paying so much more attention to her than to the neighboring New England Patriots. ""You'd think they'd be more concerned with monitoring the food being served to 70,000 people at Gillette Stadium than the food I am serving to 200 people." 

Not only has Lawton's Family Farm not had any illnesses from raw milk in its history, the entire state hasn't had a recorded illness at least since the late 1990s. 

Massachusetts is one of about 20 states that allow raw milk sales from farms, in this case permitted by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. However, Massachusetts has an unusual variation in its dairy laws whereby individual towns can prohibit raw milk sales, and a few towns have done so back in the 1950s and 1960s, when a number of states did so as well. Foxborough, the town where Lawton’s Family Farm operates, has long allowed raw milk sales, similar to the towns where the remainder of  the state's approximately 30 licensed raw milk dairies are located.  It is unheard of for a Massachusetts town that allows raw milk production to initiate new regulations on top of the state's regulations, which require monthly inspections and testing of milk for cleanliness, and to want to take over dairy inspection responsibilities from the state’s staff of inspectors....until now. 

Under the proposed Foxborough regulations, Lawton’s Family Farm would need to do the following: 

  • Test its milk on a weekly basis rather than the state's monthly requirement, and pay for all the new testing. 
  • If Lawton fails any test, it could be shut down for up to 30 days; the MDAR’s approach is to shut down a farm whose milk exceeds non-pathogenic bacterial maximums until the dairy produces a batch of milk that meets the requirements, usually a few days at most. 
  • Lawton would be prohibited from organizing a herdshare arrangement among her customers; Massachusetts has no laws on herdshares, but a few dairies have begun organizing them. 
  • Lawton would have to file an annual “plan review,” in order to renew her town-issued raw-milk permit, and the town could decide to reject her any December renewal time it wants.
  • Perhaps most onerous, the farm would be required to regularly make available to the town its entire customer list. In the absence of any illnesses, it’s difficult to imagine why the town needs a list of customers....except maybe to pass them on to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has been collecting such data. As you might imagine, Lawton customers aren't pleased. Kelly Bollman, a customer, said in a letter alerting other customers: "I find it invasive to require the farm to supply my name, address, e-mail and phone number to the Foxborough Board of Health along with what I purchase. If this is required in Foxborough for Raw Milk sales then all of the grocery stores in Foxborough that sell pasteurized milk should be held to the same standards. Shouldn't those who purchase pasteurized milk have equal treatment and be informed of the allowable amounts of antibiotics, hormones, GMOs and puss in the pasteurized milk they purchase?"  
  • Finally, clever bureaucrats that these are, the proposed regulations stipulate that if any particular clause is invalidated (say, the herdshare provision), the rest of the regulatory package stays in effect. 

Lawton says she has already had a taste of what life would be like under the proposed regulations. A few months ago, bacterial counts on her farm’s milk exceeded a state maximum, which necessitated a halt in sales. She blames the spike on a problem with cooling equipment. While her milk on a subsequent test two days later was well within state requirements, and the state okayed her re-opening. Foxborough’s Health Department objected to her being able to re-open so quickly, and kept her shut down for another six days by involving itself with the MDAR. Moreover, the town demanded a list of her customers, which she declined to provide, in the absence of either illnesses or the presence of pathogens in her milk. 

The town in its introductory statement for the proposed regulations takes the classic regulator approach of the benevolent dictator handing out privileges: “Although the health risks from the consumption of raw milk have resulted in the total ban on the sale of raw milk in currently 17 states, the Foxborough Board of Health after careful consideration of all evidence presented at the public hearing, has determined that the adoption of this regulation imposing additional safeguards and sanitary requirements should be implemented to address the public health issues raised by the sale of raw milk to consumers.” 

The underlying message: We won’t be as hostile as regulators in the other states, so we’ll allow raw milk, but only under nearly impossible conditions. The reality is that the statement about 17 states  having “a total ban” on raw milk sales is completely inaccurate--among the states that don’t allow raw milk sales to the public, most, like Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia, allow herdshare arrangements. 

Foxborough officials have been close-mouthed about the regulations. The town’s administrator pushed me off to the health inspector responsible for developing the new regulations, Pauline Clifford. As I said, she didn’t return my call. 

But the officials will have to explain themselves this Monday evening. That’s when the three-person Foxborough’s Board of Health is meeting to vote on the regulations that could close Lawton’s Family Farm after nearly 300 years.  The vote could well be close, so Terri Lawton is encouraging customers and other supporters to show up at the meeting, which begins at 7:45 pm. , at 8 Chestnut St. in the McGinty Room of the safety building/fire station in Foxborough. There is plenty of parking at a shopping mall across the street. (The town’s name is spelled both at Foxboro or, its official name, Foxborough.) 

Foxborough’s local-crackdown approach is completely at odds with the trend in other New England states, led by Maine, which are adopting Food Sovereignty ordinances to allow private sales of farm products, outside of state and federal regulations.

Like in many of these conflicts, the outcome will eventually be up to farm customers and food rights supporters to communicate their outrage over bureaucratic maneuvering to destroy a local producer of nutrient-dense food. 

it may be of assistance to put in front of the Foxborough officials, a copy of the Affidavit of Ted Beals, which has been entered-in to our case here, as expert evidence. The text of that Affidavit is on my website down a bit from the very top of the page

or : if you need a good hard copy from the filed original, stamped by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, contact me | Gordon S Watson 604 526 5064

Ora Moose's picture

Wow David, this one hits very close to home because that's my local milk source and I know Terri in person. This madness has to stop before its unstoppable. Maybe you should also publish the Foxboro Board of Health member phone numbers and emails and we could shame them? As if they actually have shame for what they do and how it influences not only individuals but the whole social culture. Ask them if they get any corporate money backing and have them go on record as to their true motives if possible.

Ora Moose's picture

I called that number for Pauline and an assistant said evidently she's "in meetings all day" which sounds like a good excuse to avoid facing angry citizens' questions and explaining why you are oppressing local small businesses for no good reason. I'll keep calling, and you should too.

David Gumpert's picture

The Board of Health members are listed at the end of the proposed regs I linked to. They are: Eric S. Arvedon, Clerk; Paul A. Mullins, Chairman; and Paul Q. Steeves, Vice Chairman. I haven't been able to immediately locate their contact info, though it would certainly be appropriate to call the number you called for inspector Pauline Clifford, and ask for any or all of the health board members. 


Ora Moose's picture

Thanks David, I did not see that contact list, or pay attention to the details as I should have. Now that I've re-read it, I'd say that will be history soon. So sad, but I'll be there on Monday to speak my mind to the clueless polititians. What's next turnip or beet outbreak accusations? Costa Rica here I come.

David Gumpert's picture

Ora, don't be so negative. I think the town regulators hoped this proposal could be slipped quietly through, without anyone taking notice. If people do take notice, it could be a different outcome. 


Ora Moose's picture

I hope you are correct David. My family will certainly be there and we're trying to round up our neighbors who've shared the milk and homemade cheese. No sickness ever.

oceansongfarm's picture

We wanted to set up a raw milk goat operation in Massachusetts but eventually threw in the towel and moved to Kentucky. So many prohibitive statutes there.
I have spoken with Terri Lawton in the past, the travesty here is that she is soooooooo scrupulous.
The underlying problem is also that the MGL (Massachusetts General Laws) bestow wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much broad sweeping authority on each small town board of health. I had problems with my town for basically brooding birds, b/c neighbors complained about 16 week poults and on and on. I sincerely hope that Ms. Lawton is able to live with any hurdles they try to throw up and can rally support, people rely on her! I suggest she do exactly what a fellow farmer in Dartmouth MA did- JOIN THE BOARD OF HEALTH.

churchlanefarm's picture

It doesn’t matter how clean the milk is, these (to borrow a term used by Gordon Watson) “Apparatchiks” know that if they look hard enough and deep enough they are going to find a way to nurture fear amongst the public and thus justify their reason to harass raw milk producers.

If dubious epidemiological evidence coupled with fabricated, unrealistic regulation, such as those mentioned above, is all that these shysters need in order to close down a raw milk producer, then RAWMI certainly has its work cut out for itself.

D. Smith's picture


Another point made in 2 minutes 35 seconds. More strangulation regulation.

mark mcafee's picture

If I was in Foxborough, this would be my plan.

1. I would raise my prices to assure complete sustainability and cover the best in testing and food safety standards.
2. I would then hire the best manager and team possible to make sure that the raw milk was perfect all of the time!! All of the time....never a question about quality or safety.
3. Then I would start showing the town this quality and make it a central theme. Show off the absolutely quality, flavor and safety!

Then I would resist the most rediculous requirements and immediately comply with all of the rest. Remember this is just good business. There will be no competition if you are the only raw milk in Town and everyone loves your raw milk!! with everyone that has a challenge with raw milk and bring all of this stuff out into the open. Make a peace treaty with all stake holders....this can be done. I have seen this time and time again. Most of the time that I see people give up it is becuase of the lack of passion and the lack of sticking with the program and rising about the bitterness and negativity. It is a leadership void. It is a lack of committment!!

If there still is a challenge when this is all done...then call a press conference and gather all the customers and call for speakers from all over America and let the press have a field day with the truth of it all. I will guarantee that all the regulatory cock roaches will vanish and crawl back into their shadows when the cameras start rolling and the truth comes out.

Raw milk takes passion and a certain type of vision and mission. It is not for the faint at heart. As a raw milk producer that ever thinks they are going to quit....think about all of your consumers that rely on you as the source of their healing food....are you willing to abandon them?

The answer to me is NEVER EVER!!!

Ora Moose's picture

Mark, you just put David under a lot of pressure since he's the local guy with media connections. Your mission, should you decide to accept it will self destruct in 10 secs. I don't think Terri wants media scrutiny, but if that is what survival requires...

Good ideas Mark, keep working on it and passing it on.

Ora Moose's picture

And I'm sure David would agree about raising prices it's too cheap to post here, almost unfairly so. But I never did pay for the webcast. Is it available online yet?

Ora Moose's picture

The NEVER EVER, I saw them open for The The. Amazing show, expensive lousy drinks

rawmilkmike's picture
epidemiology [ep″ĭ-de″me-ol´o-je]
the science concerned with the study of the factors determining and influencing the frequency and distribution of disease, injury, and other health-related events and their causes in a defined human population for the purpose of establishing programs to prevent and control their development and spread. Also, the sum of knowledge gained in such a study.
analytic epidemiology the second stage in an epidemiologic study, in which hypotheses generated in the descriptive phase are tested.
descriptive epidemiology the first stage in an epidemiologic study, in which a disease that has occurred is examined. Data necessary in this phase include time and place of occurrence and the characteristics of the persons affected. Tentative theories regarding the cause of the disease are advanced and a hypothesis is formulated.

4. Association; cucumbers, because 67% of the 45 ill interviewed ate cucumbers while only 44% of the well people surveyed ate cucumbers and not because of any actual Salmonella contamination found.
5. Blame; 2 Mexican producers because 6 of the 45 ill interviewed eat their cucumbers and not because of any actual Salmonella contamination found.
Outline of the process of an epidemiological study
1. Establish that a problem exists

2. Confirm the homogeneity of the events

3. Collect all the events

4. Characterize the events as to epidemiological factors

5. Look for patterns and trends

6. Formulate a hypothesis

7. Test the hypothesis

8. Publish the results

Ora Moose's picture

Tentative Theories, I saw them open for Manual Oracles! And Gordon, yes that was an awesome band name you came up with for Mary McG, maybe she can capitalize on it and share the profits with you. If she can sing.

mark mcafee's picture


Thank you for the news link to our brave Christine Anderson...she was our second RAWMI LISTED farmer and she operates a stellar example of super low risk raw milk production. I am super proud of her.... RAWMI stands 110% behind her as she battles for raw milk access justice. Her fight is our fight!!! When the state gags our first amendment right to speak of food....that is a signal to fight courageously and passionately!! That is our Christina. I have pledged myself to anything she needs. A win for first amendment food related rights would quickly have a domino effect for all of America. I am especially excited about this case because Christina is LISTED by RAWMI and she has a great RAMP plan. When the legal system looks into her safety.....the facts will be super compelling. She is a raw milk rock star. They are picking on the wrong person if they mess with Christina. She is a living example for emerging micro dairy producers anywhere in North America. Go Christina!!!

Perhaps the greatest moral failure of those that oppose raw milk has been to open the gates of raw milk access ( as if to yearn for outbreaks that will prove their point ) with out helping farmers to produce raw milk is a sick moral failure. As if to provide a rope to hang ourselves and hurt kids. We must rise to this challenge and voluntarily embrace high Standards. Do got give the opposition a chance to put that rope around our necks.

mark mcafee's picture

The Town of Foxborough's proposed draft raw milk ordinance is not based in science and it does not compare with any other responsible raw milk ordinance found any place in the USA. It is written as a biased and damaging protocol to hurt raw milk. In all areas of the US where raw milk is legal there are never sudden death shut down protocols. In CA and other states producers must achieve relative Standards on a 3 of 5 tests basis with automatic reinstatement when tests show compliance. Ie. immediate retest of products by a lab. A 30 shut down basis is certain death for a business.

Why and how did this draconian draft policy get written. It must have been written in a vacuum with out the engagement or involvement of the dairy. This signals very bad local politics by he dairy and or it's consumers.

A raw milk dairy must never trust the legislative processes and must always have a guard at the gate. When ever a whisper of change occurs.....the dairy must immediately engage and let their voices roar. To disengage local or state level legislation is asking for disaster.

A raw milk dairy must also be political activist and focal point to protect itself from attack and its consumers from loss of its raw resting. Constant vigilance. Constant engagement. A raw milk dairyman must spend time at city hall just as he must spend time with his customers. Another's huge difference between pasteurized milk and raw milk for humans. If raw milk does not demand and take a place at the table ordinances like this one will deny raw milk even the most basic rights. Sounds like someone did not engage the process....I am sure there is a story behind this. Raw milk must never fail to be peaceful when appropriate and passionately radically outspoken when needed as well. Call that press conference and tell the world your truth. If it is not news....make it news!!

Ora Moose's picture

Constant Vigilance, I saw them open for Rope Around back in 69.

If anyone does not get the point of my off-kelter comments, I have two words for you:

Lenny Bruce. My Idol. Oops, that's four, sorry. And then there's the one word, conformity but that's not for me.

Ora Moose's picture

And no, I don't wear skirts but here you go if it turns you on.

I'm pretty sure Lenny Bruce drank raw milk never got to ask him. But he was definitely the kind of guy we need more of today in a repressed regulated world kinda like George Carlin, let's just be ourselves and do what we can to change the "system."

David Gumpert's picture

You are correct, there is a story behind this. I don't know the whole story. Part of it seems to be small-town animosities that have built up between the Foxborough inspector, Pauline Clifford, and the Lawton family. Part of it seems to be ignorance about raw milk on the part of the Foxborough Health Department. Part of it seems to be Terri Lawton's non-combative nature, and faith in the system. And I have to think that part of it must represent an effort by Pauline Clifford and the Department of Health to find things to do to justify their existence. Otherwise, why would they want to take over the heavy-duty responsibilities of conducting inspections and monitoring the testing of a farm that is already being well handled by the state? It's not as if there have been anything approaching serious problems at Lawton's Family Farm. 

I do know that Terri is very safety conscious. Remember, she was a state dairy inspector for two years. If there were legitimate and necessary safety matters being proposed here, she would be all ears. But nearly everything in this proposal amounts to harassment, an effort to shutter the farm, and deprive 200 families of essential food.

I agree with you, it's up to Terri and her customers to take this bull by the horn, as it were, challenge the bureaucrats, and send a message that this kind of oppressive behavior won't be tolerated. 

Ora Moose's picture

David, there is definitely a story behind this and who knows it could be the beginning of a new book as the terri tory changes.

More important to me is to shine the light not on the people we already agree with but on the ones driven to the opposition oppression agenda. Please do it, expose reveal and help us understand whatever it takes.

Ora Moose's picture

"justify their existence" I saw them back up the cow sills back in 67!

The milk was way better then but twinkies were on the rise and so was Wonder bread, I wonder why, since it tasted awful and was lifeless. Sound familiar? Got yeast?

Tolerated would be a good name for a bad band but not acceptable in town, state or federal government.

But "the fools" did ok, psycho chicken or night for a beautiful girl google it.

Safety conscious sounds like a good brand name for a condom, and sperm is dangerous so warn your children lest they become.

churchlanefarm's picture

Gee this sounds like the township where I reside. Although municipalities in Ontario are not in the business of food inspection duplicity is alive and well.

shoving-back against the idiots in positions of authority is not, mainly, the job of the farmer. About a decade ago, one of the most experience milk~matrons of them all in these-here parts, said to me
"you can do the work, or you can do the politics. But you can't do both"
so true. Just getting the day's work done, takes all the time + energy a farmer has. Mark McAffee being the exception to that rule, because he has champs. at home, backing him up
Come Veteran's Day / other auspicious days, pompous politicos love to point to the heroes of the past ... yeah, well, Patriots of the Revolution paid a very high price for Liberty ... the little bit we still enjoy. Let's see at few real Americans - cut from the same cloth / putting their very lives and fortunes on the line - step in to the gap when it matters = today
The last decade of the Campaign for REAL MILK proves this is not about "health" : it's communism wrapping its God damned tentacles around private property. So if there isn't at least a quorum ( ten men, and I do mean 'males' ) ready willing and able to preserve your heritage there in the very cradle of the Republic ... then you don't deserve it.
I am NOT advocating armed resistance. That kind of thing is a century obsolete. The Pen is mightier than the Sword. The fax machine, even mightier. To the United Empire Loyalists as they pulled out for Upper Canada as the shooting started, Samuel Adams said "Depart from us in peace. May the chains of servitude rest lightly on you, and may history never remember that you were our kinsmen" ...
The situation in Foxborough is the textbook example of what's wrong with Ham-merica. Mr McAffee spelled-out for you, how to do "war" with the Apparatchiks. His strategy is right-on. Time to put up or shut up.

mark mcafee's picture

Sometimes a new leader and a new voice should come in and develop the political process and discourse. The same all personalities can create a stalemate.

On a bright note....Marcie McBee texted me this morning and wow!!! Her latest Coliform is at 4. She has only done 3 tests. They started at 20 then 15 now 4. She is on this and I am very impressed with her passion and focus. All of these numbers are good....but where she is headed is truly great.

Coliforms are just one part of the greater whole of food safety. Perhaps the most important element is the controlled process that gets these kinds of numbers. It is the RAMP plan that assures that the numbers remain low each and every day!!

What ever she is doing, she appears to be on the right track. Congrats to Marcie McBee!! She took a lack of information about standards and built smart progress from just a little bit of help in literally less than 2 weeks...and now she is truly doing great things!! Look back six months from now and Marcie will be a n example and mentor to all of the other micro dairies in her area that will need leadership and an example!!

The FDA should be embarrassed!! CDFA did so much better than the FDA on this. CA should be very proud, at the Small Herd Working Group they created good standards and "built the how to guidelines" for micro dairy raw milk production so that anyone that wants to know how to produce raw milk can get that help and never be ignorant!! Again...CA leads & rules!! Just sayin!!

Places like Wisconsin suck!! Kind of like having favorite sports teams. I love my California culture of progress. Places that oppress nutrition, raw milk access for the citizens and their raw milk producers really do suck!!

Ora Moose's picture

Again at the risk of overdoing, I point you to a parallel universe about food health care and politics:

"Mashing together" I saw them on the Ed Sullivan show in 68!

mark mcafee's picture

Ora Moose...where do you live?

Ora Moose's picture

Mark, I live in the woods but less than 3 miles from Rt1 and Foxboro/ Gillette Stadium where the Patriots play, and abuts the Lawton farm on the back side. I understand that many here already think I'm a deranged loony but.... It could even be possible that the Krafts (owners of the stadium and Patriots) might be pushing to have the farm go out of business so they can take over the land for more parking spaces. They spend millions for police presence at events, so they definitely have the financial and political clout and leverage. Conspiracy theory, I know but the place has grown exponentially for 3 decades and makes you wonder how much power they have in local town decisions.

D. Smith's picture

@ Ora: I have no doubt you are onto something about that parking lot idea of yours. Seriously I do.

It seems as though today anything that makes people "wonder" is deemed a conspiracy theory. I don't really understand the logic, or lack thereof, behind that idea because not everyone thinks the same - and thank heaven for that; but just because not everyone totally agrees on every blasted issue doesn't mean they're wrong, it just means they're different in their approach to the reasons. I get tired of all the finger-pointing and blame being launched at folks who simply have non-conformist ideas, don't you? Man is, by nature now, a suspicious creature. Sometimes with good reason. And I don't consider you or me or anyone else a conspiracist just because we question authority. I think it's quite sensible to do that even moreso in today's world. It's really the people who don't question authority that stir my suspicions. You know, just because it quacks like a duck . . .

rawmilkmike's picture

David, on Wed, 11/20/2013 – 12:38 you said “D, there is epidemiological evidence linking Marcie's dairy to a number of illnesses...”. But there wasn't enough epidemiological evidence to formulated such a hypothesis. None of the following steps were completed.
Outline of the process of an epidemiological study

1. Establish that a problem exists
2. Confirm the homogeneity of the events
3. Collect all the events
4. Characterize the events as to epidemiological factors
5. Look for patterns and trends
6. Formulate a hypothesis
7. Test the hypothesis
8. Publish the results
The joint motion by the Knox County Health Department and the Tennessee Department of Health states: "No ongoing transmission of Eschericia coli O157 related to consumption of raw milk in current cow shareholders has been detected." This means they were never looking outside the cow-share. Without knowing how many kids outside the cow-share were sick how could they know whether the raw milk was causing or preventing illness? Thanks Dave, for adding an important word to the cucumber hypothesis.

mark mcafee's picture

I just completed a 2 hour visit with a very distigusihed guest. Dr. Michele Jay Russel PhD from UC Davis WIFFS visited and toured OPDC...Wow! what an honor and priviledge. She was the PhD expert that helped build Bill Marlers Real Milk Facts website. She has been the voice heard all arround America that has been mostly not so much in support of raw milk. How things can time and data and experiences can make a difference. She worked hard in Conneticut to change raw milk laws only to find that the good people of Conneticut refused to change their standards or raw milk laws and instead trusted their farmers and distrusted their government, even though illnesses were connected directly to legally produced inspected raw milk sold in stores in Conneticut.

Michele is truly opening up broad opportunity for progress through lowering the draw bridges that have been UP for nearly 100 years. These new bridges of trust and understanding will take time to build...but the construction has begun. One thing for sure, it is clear that raw milk can be produced safely and that knowledge is being collected and now interest is being shown at the political and University level.

I want to thank Dr. Russell for risking her political life by touring OPDC and talking and learning about what we do. Thank you Dr. Russell. We all appreciate your open mind and clear appreciation for what it takes to do raw milk as a low risk food. Some day we will all look back on this day and chuckle about the early days long ago when raw milk was a fringe food.

well, David, the most recent posts by so-called "NaturalGuy" bring to focus a glitche on your otherwise excellent website. By putting a URL as the very top line in a post, when one clicks on it, the one attempting to access that message, is taken directly to the other website, without being able to read the actual message on the Complete Patient forum. Was the posting of that same URL 13 times Just an innocent mistake? Could be ... but after years dealing with the mendacity of opponents of Free Speech, I suspect it's someone who cannot tolerate the Truth being told. No ordinary person could do that much damage, by sheer accident = that took talent

Deborah - Pacifica's picture

Gordon - it appears that his multiple posts of the same thing is not a glitch nor an innocent mistake. Most of these same multiple posts have times about 1 min apart. I guess his solution to this blog is to spam it! Oh well, can't please everyone all the time, I guess.

churchlanefarm's picture

The following summary states,
“In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from devils' viewpoints. Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy ("Lowerarchy") of Hell, and acts as a mentor to Wormwood, the inexperienced tempter. In the body of the thirty-one letters which make up the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith and promoting sin in the Patient, interspersed with observations on human nature and Christian doctrine. Wormwood and Screwtape live in a peculiarly morally reversed world, where individual benefit and greed are seen as the greatest good, and neither demon is capable of comprehending God's love for man or acknowledging true human virtue when he sees it.”

In those letters Lewis states, “I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."

The ability to use ones’ mind to independently think, understand, and form judgments in the best interest of themselves and their children has been usurped by narrow minded bureaucratic rules and regulations.


It's sickening that the town is attempting to regulate such a long-standing family farm out of business, and it's outrageous that it is seeking the farm's customer list. It's yet another example of the hypocrisy regulators express toward raw milk. Do they ask for customer lists for other foods? No. Would this action make the food any safer? No. And it's another step down the road toward more and more surveillance of our lives. Who I conduct business with is not the government's business.

we have one of the few raw milk dairies that went through a food poisoning investigation by the state of massachusettes. even though they knew the poisoning occured because of raw meat left out to defrost for an extended period. the first thing they wanted was our customer list which we do not keep. they want it so they can call your customers without having to issue a public recall. can you imagine them having a list of your customers and then calling them one by one and telling them whatever they wanted too without your knowledge. with a public recall all the cards are on the table for everyone too see. it is the best way to keep them honest

mark mcafee's picture

Shana Milky,

The town of Foxborough needs radical attention. It is clear that the dairy operators are not activist enough. The town would not be acting like this if they could not get away with it. If the Lawsons jammed the Town hall with all of this customers, the police chief, the towns teachers including the biology teacher, the towns preacher, the towns children....and a host of outside experts on raw milk safety...I can guarantee that the vote at the town hall would support the Lawsons.

This is very American. This is exactly what must be done....but it takes leadership and passion. There will be no raw milk in areas that lack leadership, knowledge and courage.

Stephanie's picture

Hi David, can you indicate the source of your information that "Not only has Lawton's Family Farm not had any illnesses from raw milk in its history, the entire state hasn't had a recorded illness at least since the late 1990s."? This is a critical point. If the health department wants to institute tougher regulations, they should be able to provide some evidence or reasoning why the existing system, which would appear by your statistics to be working flawlessly, is insufficient. I have emailed them emphasizing this point.

David Gumpert's picture

Stephanie, part of my research for the 2008 Boston Globe Magazine article I link to in the post above  included searching out illnesses in Massachusetts from raw milk. I state in that article  (which was fact-checked by the Globe): "The last cases of illness from raw milk recorded by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources occurred nine years ago [in 1999], when 11 Boy Scouts visiting a farm became ill with salmonella after drinking raw milk; all recovered." What didn't make it into the article was the fact that those illnesses occurred on a farm selling its milk conventionally; in other words, the raw milk that sickened the Boy Scouts wasn't intended for sale as raw milk. There haven't been any illnesses since I wrote that article that I am aware of.  

Robert_Riegel_3's picture

I drink around 2 gallons of raw milk a week from Lawton Farm, and it's amazing.

@David, I didn't see this addressed in the article, but what are some real reasons for the sudden interest in closing down a small local farm, outside from the bs "it's not clean to sale".

David Gumpert's picture

Robert, I agree, Lawton's milk is amazing. I have enjoyed it for years. 

It's not clear why Foxborough is suddenly so committed to making it difficult for Lawton's to stay in business.  The farm is a small producer of food for the local community, so its revenues clearly help the town and regional economies. A town official I quoted in my latest post says she was concerned because the state found two high (non-pathogenic) bacterial readings, yet the state was on top of that situation, and Lawton's corrected whatever problems existed. It's not clear why the town wants to take over the considerable expense and energy associated with doing what the state is now doing quite adequately. 

Part of the problem may be small-town animosities that have built up between the Foxborough inspector, Pauline Clifford, and the Lawton family. Part of it seems to be ignorance about raw milk on the part of the Foxborough Health Department. Part of it seems to be Terri Lawton's non-combative nature, and faith in the system. 

I do know that if there were legitimate and necessary safety matters being proposed here, Terri would be all ears, since she cares deeply about safety, as a former state dairy inspector. But nearly everything in this proposal amounts to harassment, an effort to shutter the farm, and deprive 200 families of essential food.

I hope you will attend the hearing tomorrow evening--maybe we will learn some answers there. 


David Gumpert's picture

Here is a letter to the editor from Ed Lawton, Terri's dad, in the Foxboro Reporter today, about how raw milk made the dairy financially viable:

To the editor:  My name is Ed Lawton. My family runs a dairy farm on North Street which happens to be the last dairy farm in Norfolk County.

Seven and a half years ago we became a State of Massachusetts licensed certified raw milk dairy (meaning we are qualified to sell raw milk directly to consumers to drink) regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture.

Since that time our farm has become quite viable, something we did not experience when we sold our high quality milk to Garelick Farms for pasteurization.

Viable enough to retire, pass the farm on to the next generation free of debt and did not have to sell the farm (which has been in the family since before Foxboro was a town) to settle the debts when we retired.


Recently Eric Arvedon (one member of our three Board of Health members) has taken it upon himself to promote raw milk regulations to his fellow board members.

These regulations would severely increase expenses, damage our reputation with our customers and shut us down without any evidence of increased health risk of our product.

These results would soon put us out of the raw milk business that we have been in for seven and a half years.

The State agencies currently regulating raw milk farms throughout the state have the resources, trained personnel and the experience, none of which the Foxboro BoH has.

Thank you for reading this,

Ed Lawton

No doubt the first printed newspaper in the American colonies = "Public Occurrences" = circulated in Foxboro Mass. Then, and now, the Power of the Pen and the Free Press are our weapons against the despicable things done by the domestic enemies of the Republic.
In light of Ed Lawton's letter to the Editor, it would be greatly in the public interest for a True Patriot in that neck of the woods, to start "turning over a few rocks" and connect the dots between Health Board member Eric Arvedon, and the local real estate guild. The milk maid doesn't have the time to do such forensic legwork
This sitaution with Lawton property lends itself as a treatise for a Master's degree in political science : illustrating how the usurers slither-around behind the scenes, "framing a law in mischief", so a property which is not con-Tribute-ing to their racket, gets put in precarious position. Terri Lawton is too busy doing the dairying, to fend-off the gunslingers sent against her, bent on torturing her for years, trumping-up 'costs', so as to drive her towards a forced a sale. All - in order that freehold farm, be re-mort-gaged = put back in to debt bondage.
But that does not have to happen. This could be a major victory ... even, THE watershed moment ... in the Campaign for REAL MILK