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He instead formed a club and had customers sign an agreement stating they supported his operation, weren’t trying to entrap the owners, and that they would be shareholders in the farm’s produce, paying only for the farmer’s labor.

Customers hoped that would get around the FDA’s definition of “commerce,” putting the exchange outside of the federal government’s purview.

The FDA investigators continued to take shipments, though, and last week went to court to stop the operation.

Ms. Ward, the FDA spokeswoman, didn’t say exactly why they targeted Mr. Allgyer’s farm, but that violations generally are determined either by FDA investigations or by state-obtained evidence.

Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, said undercover stings are not unheard of.

“It happens quite a bit. It’s almost like they treat raw milk as crack. It’s happened in a number of states, and at the federal level,” he said.

His organization has sued to try to halt FDA enforcement, and the case is pending in federal court in Iowa.

Mr. Allgyer’s customers declined to talk about the operations, and when asked whether they knew what would happen to the farm’s distribution, they said they would have to wait and see.

One of those customers, Liz Reitzig, president of the Maryland Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, said she started looking for raw milk when her oldest daughter began to show signs of not being able to tolerate pasteurized milk.

She first did what’s called cow sharing, which is when a group of people buy shares in owning a cow, and pay a farmer to board and milk the cow. But Maryland outlawed that practice and she was forced to look elsewhere for raw milk, and turned to Mr. Allgyer’s farm.

“We like the way they farm, we love their product, it’s super-high-quality, they’re wonderful. It’s just a wonderful arrangement,” she said.

FDA really has no idea what they’re talking about when they’re talking about fresh milk. They have no concept - they really don’t understand what it’s like for people like me who have friends and family who can’t drink conventional milk,” Ms. Reitzig said.