Michigan MDARD’s Farewell Present to Mark Baker

This past June heritage breed hog farmer Mark Baker announced that he was getting out of commercial farming and would be moving to a smaller farm where he and his family would continue to grow their own food. After a four-year battle with the state of Michigan over his challenge to an Invasive Species Order (ISO) on feral hogs, Baker had grown tired of dealing with state agencies and an unfavorable regulatory climate and was ready to move on to homesteading. Little did he know that the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) was going to give him a final reminder of why he wanted out of commercial farming.

Baker operates a custom slaughterhouse on his farm in Missaukee County, mainly slaughtering and processing chickens for some 200 families in his community. He also has a permit from MDARD enabling him to sell chicken and pork raised on his farm and each year pays a renewal fee for the permit. His plan was to keep the permit and continue sales of pork and chicken until he sold the farm.

In July Baker received a letter from MDARD stating that he was being denied a permit to conduct his custom slaughter business because he hadn’t paid his renewal fee. When Baker’s wife Jill produced the canceled check showing he had paid, the department changed its story, now claiming it was denying the permit because Baker refused to let MDARD officials conduct an inspection of his farm during a December 2015 raid of his farm, Baker’s Green Acres (BGA). MDARD had obtained a warrant to search the farm; someone contacted the department to notify it that there was a picture in a magazine story of a chef holding a ham that the story said was produced by BGA. MDARD wanted to search Baker’s premises to make sure the meat he was selling was slaughtered and processed at a USDA facility.

Baker responded to this latest accusation by explaining that he hadn’t refused an inspection but had only asked the inspectors to wait until some friends of his arrived at the farm to observe the proceedings. The inspectors decided to leave rather than wait.

On August 5 MDARD relented and renewed Baker’s permit; before the renewal, an official from the department called a farmer who relied heavily on Baker’s establishment for her meat sales and told her that she couldn’t use the facility at BGA because it wasn’t permitted.

The harassment from MDARD over the permit convinced Baker to move his timetable up on his sales of chicken and pork; on August 27 Baker decided to surrender his permit saying that MDARD’s jurisdiction over his business was like a forced partnership that he no longer wanted to have. It’s the kind of partnership where the farmer supplies the labor and innovation and MDARD supplies the red tape.

Baker said that regulation by MDARD is not about food safety but control; a belief many others hold. He pointed out that bureaucrats should not be able to use their influence to pick winners and losers. He said that he was no longer going to put his family through MDARD’s harassment.

The MDARD permit denial of BGA was retribution for Baker’s successful challenge to the ISO on feral swine issued by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in December 2010. The ISO, which had the strong backing of the Michigan Pork Producers Association prohibited the possession of a number of breeds of swine. When asked to clarify what the ISO meant, DNR issued a declaratory ruling establishing that whether a pig violated the ISO was not going to be determined by whether the pig was living in the wild or outside containment but rather on its physical characteristics. According to the declaratory ruling, a pig could be prohibited if it has either “curly or straight tail structure” or “either erect or folded/floppy ear structure.”

Baker, who was raising heritage breed mangalitsa pigs, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ISO in April 2012. DNR, through the state attorney general, responded to the lawsuit by filing a countersuit of its own, seeking to have Baker’s pigs condemned and destroyed for violating the ISO. Later, after Baker became publicly critical of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette for his handling of the case, DNR amended its complaint and sought a court order fining Baker $700,000–$10,000 for each pig Baker owned that it claimed was illegal.

Just weeks before the case was to go to trail, DNR changed its position on Baker’s pigs, now saying they were legal; this shift by the agency resulted in the dismissal of both Baker’s lawsuit and DNR’s countersuit in February 2014. DNR officials did not want the case to go to trial because they knew Baker would expose the declaratory ruling for the sham that it was. DNR subsequently withdrew the declaratory ruling but the ISO is still on the books to this day. As Baker has said many times, there is no evidence that there is a feral swine problem in Michigan.

Even though the focus has been more on DNR and the Michigan Pork Producers Association, MDARD was right in the middle of the creation of the ISO. Nancy Frank, state veterinarian in MDARD’s Division of Animal Industry, had a major role in the creation of the order. MDARD was also responsible for significant losses in Baker’s business because he stood up to the state. Shortly after Baker filed his lawsuit, MDARD employees started contacting restaurants purchasing pork and other products from Baker intimidating them into dropping their business with the farmer; Baker lost almost all of his restaurant accounts. MDARD also worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inform slaughterhouses not to process feral swine, effectively limiting Baker’s access to those facilities.

Food produced at Baker’s Green Acres has never been accused of making anyone sick.

Baker and his family have paid the price for his successful challenge to government and industry’s attempt to create the conditions for cutting out the market share for heritage breed hog farmers. MDARD’s latest harassment was one final message to the farmer that it’s time to move on.

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Michigan Raw Dairy – How One Consumer Made an Impact


Michigan raw dairy consumers and producers owe Mike Lobsinger a debt of gratitude. Lobsinger, a retired businessman and leaseholder in a herd lease arrangement, along with farmers Joe and Brenda Golimbieski are the ones most responsible for a favorable court ruling establishing that consumers can obtain raw dairy products other than milk under a herdshare or herd lease agreement. 1 Thanks mainly to Lobsinger and his attorneys, John Stiers and Elise Arsenault, legal action taken by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to stop the distribution of cream, butter and other raw dairy products to leaseholders at the Golimbieski farm was not successful, establishing a case law precedent. The case shows the power to make an impact that consumers have.

Lobsinger believes it is the consumer’s right to select the farmer from whom they get their food but also that it should be the consumers’ responsibility to do what they can to back up their farmer when the farmer is facing an enforcement action from a government agency. Lobsinger, who is a member of both the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), went far beyond what consumers would typically do to protect their farmer in supporting the Golimbieskis.

In March 2013, MDARD issued a written policy, Policy 1.40 which legalized the distribution of raw milk through a written herdshare or herd lease agreement. Policy 1.40 stated that herdshare programs were to include distribution of only raw whole milk and that products such as butter, yogurt and cheese, etc., could only be sold or distributed by licensed producers. The “catch 22” is that Michigan law prohibits even licensed producers from selling products such as raw butter, cream and yogurt.

The Golimbieskis, who have a Grade A dairy operation, Hill High Dairy, were distributing raw butter and cream under their herd lease program to consumers who had signed a herd lease contract. Lobsinger, who obtains raw cream to put in his coffee was one of them.

Whenever the MDARD inspector was conducting her semi-annual inspections of Hill High Dairy, she would seize raw dairy products she found in a refrigerator located in a utility room, on the farm. In 2015 MDARD filed a court action against each of the Golimbieskis, Hill High Dairy and B.J.’s Boarding, an entity that was formed to lease cows to those wanting to get raw milk. The department petitioned the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the four parties from among other things, distributing raw dairy products other than milk to leaseholders.

Lobsinger entered the fray by successfully intervening as a third-party defendant in the case, claiming that MDARD was interfering with his property right to have milk produced by his cow separated into cream. Despite the successful intervention into the case, Judge James Jamo issued an order enjoining the Golimbieskis, Hill High Dairy and B.J.’s Boarding from violating any applicable Michigan food and dairy laws. The Judge did state in the opinion granting the injunction that there was no proof the defendants had violated any laws.

During a June 2016 inspection of Hill High Dairy, inspectors again seized and confiscated raw dairy products, including Lobsinger’s cream; subsequently, MDARD petitioned Judge Jamo to find the four defendants in contempt of court for violating the injunction. Lobsinger successfully intervened in the case again as a third-party defendant in the contempt petition and also filed a separate action against MDARD in the Michigan Court of Claims, suing the agency on the grounds that seizure of his cream violated his due process rights. The relief Lobsinger sought included a ruling that “another individual or agent may separate Lobsinger’s cream and skim milk on Lobsinger’s behalf without MDARD licensure or oversight and may deliver Lobsinger’s cream and skim milk to Lobsinger as long as the milk and cream are used exclusively for the personal consumption of Lobsinger and his family.”

In December 2016 Judge Jamo ruled that the defendants were not in contempt, establishing a legal precedent that raw dairy products other than milk can be distributed under a herd lease or herdshare arrangement without violating Michigan law. Ironically, at the time the Golimbieskis received word about the ruling on MDARD’s inspection, MDARD inspectors were once again seizing raw dairy products at the farm as they conducted an inspection.

When the inspectors finished their next scheduled inspection in June 2017 without seizing Lobsinger’s cream (or any other raw dairy products), Lobsinger withdrew his lawsuit figuring that he already had a favorable ruling in the contempt case that he didn’t want to jeopardize and seeing that MDARD was no longer confiscating products it once saw as contraband during its inspections of the Golimbieski farm. Lobsinger made it clear that if MDARD tampered with his cream in the future, he wouldn’t hesitate to sue the department again for its violation of his rights.

Lobsinger hired attorneys to fight MDARD because he wanted the public to know that the department was going after individual property rights in seizing dairy products from the Golimbieski farm. A look at the transcripts in the Golimbieski court case shows the contempt MDARD had for the leaseholders’ property rights. MDARD’s attorneys characterized Lobsinger retaining another leaseholder to separate Lobsinger’s own milk into cream as an illegal activity. The attorneys claimed the case was about a Grade A dairy violation and had nothing to do with property and contract rights. MDARD’s position was that there was no difference between sales of cream to the general public and distribution of cream to the owner of the milk from which the cream was processed. The department was in effect claiming that if someone went to Lobsinger’s house to separate milk into cream that it would have jurisdiction and could stop this “illegal transaction.”

Fortunately, Judge Jamo wasn’t buying into what Lobsinger called MDARD’s “jibberish”. He asked MDARD attorney Danielle Allison-Yokum if there was any case law to back up this assertion; the attorney admitted there was not.

Lobsinger’s intervention changed the dynamic in the Golimbieski case. Instead of the focus of the case being on a Grade A dairy violation, it was on property rights. Lobsinger’s willingness to hire attorneys to protect those rights made that happen. It shows the impact one individual can make.

1 A herdshare agreement involves someone purchasing an ownership interest in a dairy animal or animals and hiring the farmer to board, care for, and milk the animal(s); the difference in a herd lease agreement is that someone leases the dairy animal(s) and has ownership rights in the animal(s) for the term of the lease.

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Making a Difference in Tennessee


The story of Michele Reneau serves as an example of how a consumer can make an impact in advancing freedom of food choice. Reneau, who along with Nate and Anju Wilson manages a Chattanooga food buyers club, was the one most responsible for turning a potential enforcement action by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) into a legislative breakthrough and a new law benefiting food buyers clubs throughout the state.

Reneau, a Weston Price chapter leader and Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) member, has the right temperament and personality to take on government regulators. She doesn’t accept their general assertions of authority, contesting the regulators point by point—asking for specific citations in the law to back up their claims. She gives up ground to regulators grudgingly and is a strong believer that there is a legal distinction between the private and the public distribution of food.

Reneau, along with the Wilsons, manages the Weekly Fig, a private membership association. Among other foods, Weekly Fig distributes meats, eggs, raw dairy and baked goods to its members. On May 4, 2016, an official from TDA attempted to inspect the Weekly Fig’s facility for the storage and distribution of food. TDA had discovered Weekly Fig through the inspection of a neighboring licensed facility in the same complex. Reneau refused to let TDA conduct the inspection of the buyers club facility claiming TDA did not have jurisdiction over her operation. On June 6 counsel for TDA sent Reneau and the Wilsons a warning letter identifying violations the Weekly Fig had allegedly committed, including operating an unlicensed establishment, offering for sale raw juice, and offering for sale raw milk and raw milk products.

An informal hearing was held on the matter June 30 between a representative for Weekly Fig and TDA officials; subsequently, the department sent Weekly Fig correspondence upholding the written warnings against their unlicensed operation of a “food establishment” and their sale of raw milk, putting Reneau and the Wilsons on notice that “future violations of the same or similar sort—i.e. unlicensed operation as a food establishment or sale of raw milk—will be considered grounds for the Department to seek actions for injunction and/or criminal charges.”

With there not being favorable case law on a legal distinction between public and private distribution of food, Reneau took the legislative route to fight back against the threat from TDA. On February 8, 2017, Tennessee State Senator Frank Niceley and State Representative Kevin Brooks introduced, respectively, Senate Bill 651 and House Bill 702, legislation providing that no permit is required to operate “a farm to consumer distribution point” (e.g., food buyers club). The bills were amended to add that the facility must register with the state department of revenue for purposes of paying sales tax 1 and must agree to only allow deliveries of meats produced by farmers who comply with the Tennessee Meat and Poultry Inspection Act; these are both existing requirements the facility is expected to comply with anyway. On May 11, 2017, SB 651 was signed into law. Reneau testified at the Senate committee hearing on the bill and, according to Senator Niceley, did a great job. FTCLDF worked on the development of the bill.

SB 651 is a big help for farmers; consumers like their convenience and will go more often to a centrally located buyers club site to spend their food dollar than they would going to a farm. Unless there was an exemption from the permit requirement, many food buyers clubs would not bother having a fixed central location for the distribution of food.

It would be great to end by saying the government is leaving Weekly Fig alone with the new law in place but that hasn’t been the case. Even though state regulatory agencies have stopped bothering the food buyers club 2, for the past several months USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has been requesting that FSIS personnel be allowed to conduct an inspection of the Weekly Fig facility. FSIS has broad jurisdiction to inspect firms handling meat products but almost never uses it to inspect a facility like the Weekly Fig’s. The agency is asking for customer records detailing meat purchases and sales. The Weekly Fig’s charter prohibits the sharing of member information with anyone.

Reneau doesn’t know who made the complaint to FSIS but it doesn’t look like a coincidence the complaint was made shortly before SB 651 became law. Reneau, as she did with TDA, is contesting FSIS jurisdiction to inspect the facility by requesting that the agency give her specific citations in the law giving it the authority to inspect Weekly Fig; she is not giving FSIS an inch until it does so. To this point the agency has yet to attempt an inspection.

What Reneau and the Wilsons have done is to realize the potential consumers have to make changes in the laws governing local food. They have shown it doesn’t take many to make a difference.

———–

1 Food sold for human consumption is taxable in Tennessee.

2 TDA has stopped pursuing any action against the Weekly Fig over the allegation that it was selling raw milk. The Weekly Fig does not sell raw milk and raw milk products, rather it distributes them to its members pursuant to a herdshare agreement; herdshare contracts are legal in Tennessee.

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Montana Becomes 43rd State to Legalize Raw Milk Distribution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FALLS CHURCH, VA—August 1, 2017—Montana has become the 43rd state to legalize raw milk distribution, doing so through a method that no other state has adopted. Montana residents can now get legal access to raw milk through purchasing securities, giving them ownership interest in a dairy animal or dairy animals. Dairy farmers wanting to sell stock in their animals need to obtain an exemption from the state securities registration requirement; the farmers fill out an application for the exemption with the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (OCSI). Please do not contact OCSI.

OCSI has granted exemptions for stock offerings of dairy animals in the past including one in 2016 for an FTCLDF member selling ownership interests in dairy goats, but the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), which has jurisdiction over dairy production and sales, had left open the possibility of taking enforcement action against producers under the exemption. During recent communications with OCSI officials, DOL leadership indicated it would honor the exemptions, changing its prior policy. DOL would still have oversight over raw milk producers operating under the exemption. FTCLDF member Chris Rosenau was instrumental in forging the breakthrough on the DOL policy. Rosenau has led the effort to pass a raw milk bill the last three legislative sessions in Montana. OCSI limits stock offerings to ownership in four cows with 25 solicitations (meaning a maximum of 25 stockholders) per offering. It is not clear at this point how many goats could be included in an offering, but the number is probably around the same as for cows.

DOL will likely continue to regard the typical herd share arrangements existing in Montana (and many other states) as illegal even though Montana law provides a strong argument for their legality.

Rosenau, who has spent thousands of uncompensated hours working for a change in the state raw milk laws, regards the new DOL policy as a foot in the door and a step towards expanding raw milk access in the state. She plans on working with legislators to introduce another raw milk bill in the next legislative session.

FTCLDF drafted documents for the farmer member mentioned earlier who successfully obtained the exemption in 2016. Montana dairy farmers interested in applying for the exemption can contact FTCLDFAgain, please do not contact OCSI.

Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island—seven states to go.

Attorneys for FTCLDF have spent a substantial amount of time working to legalize raw milk distribution in Montana. The goal of legal raw milk in all 50 states is in sight. Please help us continue our push towards making this happen by attending our fundraiser or by making a donation.

Media Contact:
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
703-208-3276, info@farmtoconsumer.org

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FDA Boxed in on Interstate Ban

For some time now, enforcement on the interstate ban of raw milk and raw milk products by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has looked to be an exercise in futility (only raw cheese aged 60 days or more is legal in interstate commerce). Thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens violate the ban in this country on a regular basis. FDA has stated that it will not enforce the ban against individuals transporting raw milk across state lines for their own consumption; to the FDA, it is dangerous when someone is transporting raw milk for consumption by a group of people but is somehow safe when it is only for an individual.

FDA’s last enforcement action against a raw milk producer, concluded over five years ago, has not deterred demand; more consumers want raw dairy products than ever. FDA has never publicly acknowledged that the ban has been a failure but once again it has the opportunity to do so and respect consumer freedom of choice. There are currently two petitions before FDA on the regulation (21 CFR 1240.61) establishing the interstate ban—one filed by Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) and the other filed by the Real Food Consumer Coalition (RFCC). Repeal of the interstate ban is long overdue; granting of the two petitions would be a significant step toward making that a reality. No matter what FDA decides, it is going to have to answer once again why it has not repealed a law that does not work.

On June 22, 2016, FDA received a petition from OPDC and FTCLDF requesting that FDA lift the interstate ban on raw butter. FDA’s only response to date has been a December 13, 2016 letter stating it needed more time to reach a decision on the petition. Federal law requires that FDA respond to a citizen petition within six months of its filing; unfortunately, the courts regard a statement from the agency that it needs more time as a satisfactory response.

More than anything the raw butter petition is a request to FDA that the agency obey the law; in establishing the raw butter ban, FDA violated and continues to violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The FFDCA contains a statute governing standards of identity for foods. Standards of identity are requirements prescribing what a food product must contain to be marketed under a certain name in interstate commerce. For instance, the standard of identity for milk in final packaged form requires that it be pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized and that it contain not less than 8.25% non-fat milk solids and not less than 3.25% milkfat.1 FDA’s long held position is that the pasteurization requirement can be part of the standard of identity. Standards of identity are intended to promote honesty and fair dealing for the benefit of consumers.

Congress has given FDA power to issue regulations establishing standards of identity for most foods, but there are exceptions and one of those is butter. The FFDCA specifically prohibits FDA from establishing a standard of identity for butter; Congress has passed a law defining butter that serves as a standard of identity for the product. That definition does not require butter to be pasteurized. The petition asks FDA to abide by the statutory standard of identity and to stop breaking the law in the name of the law.2

FDA justifies the ban on the grounds that it has the power to regulate communicable disease, a claim the federal government’s own statistics show has no foundation. If raw butter can be banned under this power, just about any other food could be, as well. The citizen petition notes that since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) created the Foodborne Outbreak Online Database in 1998, not even one foodborne illness outbreak has been attributed to the consumption of commercially produced raw butter.3 There is one 2007 outbreak in Utah where homemade butter was listed as a possible cause for an outbreak as were raw milk and homemade soft raw cheese; given butter’s food safety history, it is likely that the milk or cheese was the cause.

The irony is that possibly more than any other raw dairy product, consumers purchase raw butter for its health benefits. FDA can do better than violate the law by banning a product that doesn’t make people sick.

The RFCC petition, sent to FDA on April 26, 2017, requests that:

“FDA exercise its enforcement discretion to avoid taking, and to cease taking, enforcement action against those who distribute unpasteurized milk and milk products in interstate commerce when the milk products bear labels that include in conspicuous bold face type prominently displayed on the statement of identity for the product: (1) a warning regarding the health risks of unpasteurized milk and milk products; and, when applicable, (2) instructions for safe handling, including self-pasteurization.”4

There is a precedent for the warning label requirement; another regulation, 21 CFR 101.17(g) requires that there be a warning label with a specific statement for juice that has not been pasteurized. The warning label and safe handling statements are intended to provide information and education to the consumer to address FDA’s concern that the agency needs to protect people from themselves.

The petition notes that the request it is making is in line with presidential executive orders issued earlier this year to reduce the regulatory burden on a Regulatory Reform Task Force that is required “at a minimum” to identify regulations that “eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation; are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective; impose costs that exceed benefits; create a serious inconsistency. . .”5 The quote is a good description of the interstate raw milk ban.

The RFCC consists of members of some of the bigger food buyers clubs around the country obtaining raw milk, including many mothers who will do whatever it takes to access the foods they believe best for their children’s health, even if that means violating ill-conceived regulations banning foods they have a legal right to consume.

The two petitions are pushing FDA to reevaluate the ban and do the right thing by repealing it. It is time for the FDA to honor freedom of choice and get rid of a regulation a federal judge once described as being in a state of “desuetude,”6 a word meaning “not being used.” A law not worth enforcing is not worth having on the books.

FTCLDF Code of Regulations states that a goal of the organization is “overturning the federal regulation banning the interstate shipment of raw milk (and raw milk products) for human consumption.” That day is getting closer. Thanks to  your support, FTCLDF and other raw milk advocates are winning this battle. Help us continue our push towards ending the ban by attending our fundraiser or by making a donation.

Footnotes:
1 Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Raw Butter Is a Communicable Disease. June 23, 2016. Posted online at https://www.farmtoconsumer.org/blog/2016/06/23/raw-butter-communicable-disease/
2 Mark McAfee and Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Citizen Petition to Lift Interstate Ban on Raw Butter. p. 5 Posted online at
https://www.farmtoconsumer.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/1-CitPetFDA-Butter-062216-1.pdf
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne Outbreak Online Database. Posted online at https://wwwn.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/
4 Emord & Associates. Citizen Petition to Exempt from 21 C.F.R. § 1240.61(a) Certain Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products if Properly Labeled. Posted online at http://hartkepr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-4-26-RFCC-Petition-GoFundMe.pdf
5 Ibid.
6 Judge Mark Bennett. Memorandum Opinion and Order Regarding Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend Judgment. May 1, 2012. [PDF]

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eating-what-we-choose

Raw Milk Public Interest Soars As Politics Escalate

As Trial Nears for One Farm, the Supporters Take Action on Raw Milk Public Interest Policy and Access

Toronto, Canada– September 23, 2016—Raw milk itself is on trial, say supporters, at a Monday September 26, two-day hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice. The past year has seen an unprecedented rise in consumer awareness, demand, and action to obtain this food. Raw milk drinkers cite a number of reasons for drinking raw milk from health reasons and taste, to political. For some immigrants, raw milk is a staple food in their native country.

The Ministry of Health does not think anyone should be able to access raw milk or drinking the beverage. The hearing will be held in the court building at 50 Eagle Street, West, Newmarket, Ontario.

In January of this year, York Region, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry Health filed an application to get an injunction against the distribution or sale of raw milk against Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Glencolton Farms, Agricultural Renewal Coop and anyone who provides, distributes or recommends raw milk. The hearing is to determine if the applications can be converted into an action. If successful, this would change the dynamics of the procedure from a hearing to a proper trial. People interested in procuring raw milk want this case to appear before a jury. Our Farm, Our Food Coop, one of the many organizations in support of consumer choice, has filed a motion to intervene as an added party to the proceedings, which would give all members a voice to defend their right to the foods of their choice.

Elisa Vander Hout, spokesperson for Agricultural Renewal Coop, says that “In response to the court action instigated by various health units and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, mothers, fathers, pastors and other interested parties, have filed over 70 affidavits with the court to show the public interest in this case,” claiming, “it is not as simple as the crown implies.”

“These court proceedings give the public a voice. The message is loud and clear: people want access to the foods of their choice and demand respect for that. Canadians don’t want the government conducting armed raids on innocent, peaceful farmers to take away food choice,” Elisa adds.

On September 20, 2016, a petition was presented to the House of Commons to change the policy on raw milk. The government will review the petition, and issue a response to the 5000+ public supporters who signed it. The petition was in the top 20 ever for the official petition site.

Petition creator Cory Harris says “This petition represents a small sampling of Canadians interested in food choice and food security. Supporters have sent thousands of individually written letters to the Minister of Health asking the government to modernize their position.

Dozens of organizations representing millions of Canadians have signed a letter to Minister Jane Phillpott citing the science and research supporting our request. After 22 years of requesting progress on the raw milk issue, we expect to see constructive dialogue and change.”

Our Farms, Our Foods Coop is a 200 member cooperative formed for the purpose of boarding personal cows with a responsible dairyman. The group is just one of the many interested stakeholders in the petition to the Canadian Parliament. For additional information on raw milk www.realmilk.com

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Canadian Raw Milk in Parliament

 

New Canadian Raw Milk Petition Grants Producers, Consumers a Possible Voice in Policy

 

QueenieCanadian raw milk is gaining appeal to the people of Canada. Canadian citizen, Cory Harris, has launched a petition directed to the Minister of Health. The petition states, in part:

“We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Health to Modernize and amend the Food and Drugs Act and the corresponding Food and Drug Regulations, to permit the legal sale of, and/or access to, raw (i.e. unpasteurized) milk and milk products through small scale certified herd share programs, or other such suitable arrangements, capable of managing any associated health risks in a responsible and reasonable manner.”

In Canada, this petition is required to be brought before the House of Commons if it reaches 500 signature before the end date. As of this writing, the Canadian raw milk petition is over 3,400 signatures with an August 11, 2016 deadline for signatures.

The Canadian government is required to respond to each petition that is read in the House of Commons. The government has 45 days to respond to each petition that garners the necessary number of signatures. Once the deadline passes, the petition will be read in the House of Commons when they return from recess.

Canadians have the opportunity to make this the number one issue on the petition site with an influx of signatures over the next two months. This would send the message loudly and clearly that it is past time the Canadian government reevaluates its outdated position on the prohibition of fresh milk. Please sign the petition and ask your Canadian raw milk friends to do the same.

Different than the US, the Prime Minister’s cabinet is made up of sitting Members of Parliament (MPs). These members are elected to their position in the House of Commons and then chosen by the Prime Minister as members of his cabinet. The current minister of Health, which is the designated recipient of the petition, is Jane Philpott. She will most likely be the one who responds to the petition after it is presented in the House of Commons.

As the Canadian raw milk petition makes its way through the proper procedures, there will be many opportunities to ask friends in Canada to share and sign the petition, write letters and bring greater awareness of raw milk to the Canadian public. Make sure to stay up to date on what’s happening by following this blog.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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Urgent Update on Glencolton Farms

To survive the government harassment, Michael and Elisa of Glencolton Farms make an urgent appeal for legal defense funds.

Dairy Farmer Michael Schmidt on food freedom

Dairy Farmer Michael Schmidt on food freedom

As the Canadian government continues their targeted harassment of Michael Schmidt, farmer at Glencolton Farms, the legal cases continue through the Canadian court system. Michael Schmidt’s 23 year-battle with the Canadian government has entered a new chapter. This time, the Canadian government has taken a new approach by targeting all consumers of raw milk in addition to the farmers.

 

 

Agents harass Michael and Elisa and other farm owners while raiding Glencolton Farms

In this video, that is sure to make your blood boil, Canadian agents threaten peaceful farmers while farm co-owners express their opinions in October of 2015.

Current Court Battles

In February of 2016, the Provincial government filed an application for injunction against Michael Schmidt, his wife and son and, for the first time, all the herdshare members or anyone involved in distribution including property owners who allow their space to be used as a drop site for Glencolton Farms.

At a past court hearing on March 16, 2016, the court set a date in September for the final hearing on the applications. Since that time, Michael and attorneys for the coop have successfully argued for a separate hearing on the motion to have a jury trial. It is unlikely that this case will be heard as soon as September. Whether it happens sooner or later, Michael Schmidt and the Canadian people need your support to continue this fight and to set a beneficial precedent.

Michael and Elisa recently sent out a message to their supporters reminding them that legal fees are necessary and should be shared by all with an interest in Glencolton Farms or raw milk from any source. Since this case will be watched throughout Canada and the US, it is imperative that those of us who care about food access and the farmers who feed us also take note and contribute where we can.

Letter from Michael and Elisa to supporters:

(For additional information and background on the case, the Bovine has comprehensive coverage of the cases and actions against food freedom related to Glencolton Farms.)

June 2016

Dear Supporters,

By now you must know that Government is very serious to shut down any attempts of people to make an informed choice about their milk, their food and their individual relationship to their farmer and farmer to their shareholders.

This battle is going on for me now over 22 years. I have been in and out of court so many times that it is impossible to even count. Endless nights are spent on formulating defence, filing papers, responding to new threats.

Our beloved farm has been the focus of at least 3 major raids with up to 25 armed officers.

I have fines of over 100 000 dollars hanging over my head, got a jail sentence in BC for helping a raw milk farm there.

We are now in our last round. There is so much at stake that we at Glencolton Farms might as well pack it in unless supporters of food freedom understand that we cannot do it alone.

We are willing to fight. But we are not willing to worry 24 hours a day how to pay the lawyer to defend that last action.

We keep shelving out money, some money comes in from some members and a trickle here and there from other farmers. That is NOT enough.

We are not able to continue this fight unless we know that everyone will do ALL you can to raise legal funds.

We don’t have the money either, but we have to keep paying and paying and paying out of our last resources.

We are asking all our supporters and all those who want food freedom to please step up:

10 dollars a week, or 50 dollars a month or 500 dollars in one shot.

Unless we raise these funds we will have absolutely no chance of succeeding.

So we might as well pack it in now put a for sale sign up and look back in 10 years how we have miserably failed to bring about positive change.

Thank you for your support. It is through a true community and through our efforts together that we will succeed. Please donate directly to our legal expenses here.

The time is now

Elisa and Michael

Note: if you are donating from the US, the exchange rate is currently to our advantage; your generosity will go further in Canada. Thank you

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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Raw Milk Dairy Under Investigation

CDC accuses Millers Organic Farm of causing raw milk illness

CDC accuses Millers Organic Farm of causing raw milk illness

A Pennsylvania Raw Milk Dairy Under Investigation by government agencies?

The raw milk dairy under investigation is Miller’s Organic Farm in Pennsylvania, which we wrote about several weeks ago when the CDC accused them of causing illness in 2 people.

David Gumpert has been uncovering additional facts in the case agains this raw milk dairy and reporting about it on his blog.

In his most recent article, he states

“If owner Amos Miller fails to allow inspection of his facilities by the deadline, the U.S. Justice Department “will be forced to initiate enforcement proceedings,” it said in a recent letter to the Pennsylvania farmer. While the Justice Department didn’t say exactly what it plans, presumably it will seek either an injunction of some kind, or a similar action, which would ostensibly restrict sales of Miller’s food and impose severe fines or raids for violation of a court order.”

“Regardless of which agency takes the legal lead, the government’s intent is to challenge Miller’s on the basis of safety rather than the legitimacy of private food distribution. Government lawyers know that it will be much easier to convince a judge to enforce an injunction or similar legal device based on fear-mongering than on the legal aspects of private membership associations.”

Since Miller’s Organic Farm operates as a private membership association so that others can enjoy the raw milk and other raw dairy products, this is an important case to watch. When the FDA, USDA or state level agencies target one farm for “enforcement,” they are effectively targeting all who want access to nutrient dense and healing foods. Including and most especially fresh raw milk from grassfed cows.

An email address is set up to collect testimonials about products from Miller’s Organic Farm and all letters of support. Send emails to WriteToMillers@gmail.com

For a virtual tour of the farm and the family who operates it, see the recent post on Nourishing Liberty about Miller’s Organic Farm

We will continue to update this situation as it changes.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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Canadian Raw Milk Petition

Queenie

Canadian Raw Milk Petition Garners Thousands of Signatures in a Few Weeks

Just a couple of weeks after we originally reported on this petition, the Canadian Raw milk petition has soared past 2700 signatures putting it in the top 12 active petitions on the site.

When we first reported on it, we asked members to send the information to friends and family in Canada so they could sign the Canadian Raw Milk Petition. While we have made it past the initial 500 signatures needed in order to make sure this issue is heard in Parliament, we want to see the Canadian Raw Milk Petition in the top three on the site so that we can show the Canadian government and the Canadian people that a policy change is long past due.

Please add your voice to the other thousands who have signed by going to the petition site and filling out the requested information.

Action:

  1. Sign the petition
  2. Using email or social media, spread the word and ask others to sign it. Sample wording below.

Canadian citizens are petitioning their government to create meaningful dialogue about raw milk availability. Please sign this petition and ask others to do the same. You do not need to be a raw milk drinker or even a supporter to sign this petition. This is about our rights as citizens to choose the foods of our choice from the producer of our choice.

Thank you.

Unlike in the United States where raw milk is legal in most states, Canada raw milk laws are much stricter making it almost impossible for farmers to provide raw milk to the people who want it.

A recent court case has brought this issue to the attention of Canadians. On March 16th 2016, a huge rally outside an Ontario courthouse, showed tremendous support for the Canadian raw milk farmers who are providing the wonderful health food to their communities.

Blogger and activist, Liz Reitzig, chronicles the case, the hearing and the farm of noted raw milk farmer, Michael Schmidt. To get a sense of the farmers who are targeted and what the government is trying to do to these farmers, take a look at her article about Glencolton Farms.

For those in Canada who are looking for a reliable source for raw milk, check out the Real Milk website.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

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