America’s First Cowshare Program?May 23, 2009
Federal LegislationSeptember 1, 2009
Dear Wisconsin Members,
Raw milk is under attack in Wisconsin. Please read carefully and take action! With your help, we can stop this latest threat to raw milk and real food!
Sally Fallon Morell, President
In November 2008, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) hired a new administrator, Steve Ingham, for the Division of Food Safety after the previous person retired. Prior to being hired, Ingham worked for the Extension Service.
Steve Ingham, along with DATCP attorney Cheryl Daniels, has decided to reinterpret the administrative regulation on the sale of raw milk that was issued by DATCP in 2008. When DATCP first proposed the rule, the agency announced the rule was to be consistent with administrative law decisions made in 2002 and 2004. The 2004 administrative law decision led to a February 2004 order issued by Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Rod Nilsestuen that allowed the sale of raw milk to those who invested in an entity that held a milk producer license. (NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT ANYONE AT DATCP.) The order has enabled many Wisconsin consumers to purchase raw milk from farms in which they have invested.
Contrary to the 2004 order, DATCP’s current interpretation of the administrative regulation is to NOT allow ANYONE to obtain raw dairy products unless you are the farmer – period!
With the recent harassment of several Wisconsin farms by DATCP investigators and inspectors, we have heard that DATCP intends to have criminal charges brought against each farm for illegally selling raw dairy products. Their intention is to shut down all sales of raw milk. We know that there has been pressure from some of the large corporations (such as Organic Valley) to either regulate or put a stop to the sale of raw milk by shareholder dairies.
The farms involved are all members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The Legal Defense Fund has agreed to represent the Wisconsin farms in a suit against DATCP, if a suit is necessary to protect their legal right to provide raw dairy products to shareholders. The suit would request that the administrative regulation issued in 2008 be interpreted consistently with Secretary Rod Nilsestuen’s 2004 order allowing the sale of milk to those investing in a corporate entity holding a milk producer license (for example, a farm).
This suit would only go forward IF the Legal Defense Fund determines that legal action by DATCP against any of the farms is imminent.
Wisconsin raw milk dairy farmers have found a lobbyist by the name of Jolene Plautz, who is willing to work for the Wisconsin consumers in introducing a Raw Milk Bill. The Raw Milk Bill being drafted would allow farms to sell milk and milk products directly from the farm. Jolene is charging $1,200 per month. This could take between two and six months. We’ll know more as time moves forward.
Action to Take
Here’s what you need to do . . .
- You need to contact your STATE REPRESENTATIVES and STATE SENATORS.
- They need to hear from you – the consumer! You can call them, email them, or send a letter via snail mail. The choice is yours, but please remember: you need to express your frustration with DATCP’s position on Raw Milk Sales direct from the farm, and let them know you are in favor of passing the pending Raw Milk Bill.
Working together, you and the other real dairy consumers in Wisconsin will be heard! This is the beginning of future attempts at government restrictions regarding your freedom of choice. Even if you are not a raw dairy consumer, it’s time to speak up and become a food choice advocate!
Here are a few discussion topics you may want to include in your telephone call, letter, or email correspondence:
- Please give your name and address and please be polite. You can (and should be) angry, upset and frustrated, but remember, we want these people on our side. They are your messengers and have influence.
- Tell them that you have no interest in milking your own cow and that you demand and need access to raw dairy products for yourself and your family.
- If you are not a Raw Dairy consumer, you can still encourage the Raw Milk Bill as a “Freedom of Food Choice Advocate.” You believe in a consumer’s personal right to choose!
- You believe that your farmer has been harassed without justification.
- You are making an informed decision about your own food source and that you don’t want or need the governments help in making that decision.
- That by going to the farm where the milk is produced you are helping your farmer stay financially solvent.
- Describe the benefits you believe you have seen from consuming raw dairy products.
- Question whether this is the best use of staff time and resources in this time of state budget deficits.
Now, who do you contact? Your Wisconsin State Senator and Wisconsin State Assembly Representative. To find out who they are, go to: www.legis.state.wi.us
In the middle of the page is the question: “Who Represents Me?” Click that and on the next page fill in your address. Your Senator’s and Representative’s pictures, names and contact information will pop up.
Once you have the names of your Senator and Representative, please pass them on to Janet Brunner, along with your name and address. The lobbyist has requested this information as soon as possible.
You can email them to: email@example.com
Or mail them to:
W8481 County Road Z
Arkansaw, WI 54721
Donations are needed to pay for the lobbyist; any monies in excess will be donated to the Legal Defense Fund. Dan and Paula Siegmann have set up a checking account to handle donations.
Checks should be made payable to: Dan Siegmann – Lobbyist Fund.
Mail checks to:
Dan & Paula Siegmann
W 1969 County Rd. N
Rubicon, WI 53078