UPDATE: Wisconsin Officials Seek To Jail Raw Milk Farmer in Spite of Jury Acquittal
To validate the point made in the story below, that attacks against raw milk farmers and seeking to treat them like criminals has nothing to do with whether or not raw milk is safe, The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that Wisconsin officials are seeking to jail farmer Vernon Hershberger, in spite of the fact that a jury just acquitted him of selling raw milk without a license. The state wants to revoke his bail for continuing to sell raw milk, against the conditions of his original bail.
“It is a concern that any defendant would engage in and openly admit to actions which clearly disregard the court-ordered conditions of release (on bail),” wrote assistant attorneys general Eric Defort and Phillip Ferris.
Hershberger’s attorney, Glenn Reynolds, called the motion disappointing because the bail terms he’s accused of violating are the same activities that led to the charges of which he was acquitted. “It seems vindictive in my view,” he said. “He goes to trial and wins and now they want to put him in jail? What is the point of this sort of motion?”
The point is, the government wants to control this peaceful farmer, and they don’t like the fact that a jury acquitted him. They wasted no time in finding other ways to treat him as an illegal drug pusher and seek to put him behind bars and out of business, all at the Wisconsin taxpayers expense. How many millions of dollars have already been spent on this case? Is Big Dairy in the dairy state afraid of farmer-to-consumer direct sales of raw milk perhaps?
Health Impact News
Anyone who honestly looks at the facts regarding foodborne illnesses and deaths, as published by government statistics, will clearly see that raw milk is not a public health threat. The raw food sold at your local supermarket, in both the fresh produce section and in the frozen meat section, is FAR more dangerous than raw milk supplied by small farmers who only have a few cows. The CDC’s own estimates number raw milk consumers in the U.S. at between nine and eleven million, which is probably a very conservative number.
Yet the supposed health risk of raw milk is what is used by the government to track down raw milk farmers and suppliers and prosecute them as criminals, as if they were dealing in illegal drugs (illegal drugs, by the way, are safer than legal prescription drugs, but that’s another story.)
It would appear that the Maine Department of Agriculture has just proven that the raw milk issue is not a safety issue, but one of government control through licensing. Farmer Dan Brown of Blue Hill Maine was recently convicted of selling raw milk without a license. It was a long two year court battle testing Blue Hill’s new local ordinance which excludes small farmers like Dan from state regulations that many believe are meant for larger operations. Dan Brown owns two cows. While the judge who convicted him stated he could continue selling certain products from his farm without a license, she said raw milk was not included, citing the “safety” factor:
“The public health implications of permitting Brown to continue to sell milk without a license are substantial,” Murray wrote. She also noted that “the more Brown argues he will have to alter his production practices to satisfy the Department’s safety standards, the more the safety risks associated with his current unlicensed practices are called into question.” (Source)
Remember, a judge like this does not work in the Department of Agriculture and is not trained to evaluate food safety. She simply interprets the law.
The conviction forced farmer Dan Brown to file bankruptcy, as he was unable to sell the milk from his cows.
On the same day he filed bankruptcy, however, the Maine Department of Agriculture issued a license to sell raw milk to Deborah Evans and Laura Livingston of Bagaduce Farm in Brooksville Maine – for $25.00. Bagaduce Farm has one milk cow, and they were NOT asked to make any modifications to their operation like Dan Brown was:
Deborah Evans and Laura Livingston of Bagaduce Farm in Brooksville applied early in May to the Maine Department of Agriculture for a license to sell raw milk as a milk distributor. They were granted a license on May 22 by state inspector Renee Blais. “She is licensed to sell,” said Blais in a May 28 telephone call.
“We wanted to begin the discussion with the Department of Agriculture inspection people to find out what we had to do,” said Evans. “Our assumption [was that] for us to milk one cow was going to take a level of investment that was way beyond our level of investment so far.”
However, Evans was surprised to find that state requirements for milk production she had heard from other farmers—like stainless steel sinks, a self-closing door and running hot water—requirements Brown said he was told by state inspectors he needed to qualify as a milk distributor—did not come into the picture.
“The fact that we ended up qualifying for a license was a huge shock,” Evans said, who paid $25 for the license. (Source.)
Could the local media coverage that generally cast Dan Brown in a favorable light, and the fact that state legislators in Augusta used Dan Brown’s conviction as a rallying point to introduce state-wide legislation to uphold local food sovereignty laws, have had any bearing on the state’s decision to so easily issue a license to this small dairy farm? One can only speculate at this point.
One things seems crystal clear, however, in the state’s recent actions in Maine. Raw milk safety is NOT the issue. It’s all about government control. If safety were truly the issue, then why are they allowing one farm to sell raw milk to the public for a simple $25.00 license, while denying a similar small farm who was following a local ordinance? They used the judicial system in one case to shut down a farmer and drive him out of business, but chose to work with another farmer who agreed to be licensed. Control. That is the issue, not food or public safety.
Isn’t it time the anti-raw milk antagonists stop hiding behind the raw milk “safety” issue? The raw milk issue is not a safety issue. It is about government control. As the recent jury who acquitted Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger from being guilty of providing raw milk to private club members without a state-approved license shows, the public is getting fed up with the government stance over licensing, and their treating peaceful farmers like illegal drug criminals. It is time for a Food Freedom Revolution!
The Raw Milk Revolution
Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
by David E. Gumpert
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