Last February, a Wisconsin judge imposed a temporary injunction prohibiting Arlin Bender from slaughtering cattle and pigs on behalf of neighboring farmers, at the request of the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). In July, the judge followed up by extending the injunction for a year.
In October, I expressed the view that an academic article favorable to raw milk, and posted on a web site of the University of California, Davis, was removed at the orders of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's director of Plant and Dairy Food Safety, John Sheehan.
Not so, says Sheehan. In an email exchange Sheehan had with the head of the Dairy Research Institute, Greg Miller, Sheehan sounds off on the article mystery...and on yours truly, since I was the only media person to raise questions about the infringement on academic freedom.
Six weeks in advance of the criminal trial of Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger, pre-trial maneuvering moved into high gear Tuesday.
Some seven lawyers gathered in the Baraboo courtroom of Sauk County Judge Guy Reynolds, and for three hours argued about the highly unusual effort of Wisconsin prosecutors to subpoena three local journalists to testify for the prosecution. Three of those lawyers were from the state--two from the office of the Wisconsin Attorney General and one from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Two others were representing Hershberger, and two were representing the journalists.
You wonder what sitting in jail for four months--all for running a private food club--does to a guy. You wonder what it does to the people around him who were supposedly watching his back.
I've certainly wondered, especially with James Stewart finally being released after four months in a Ventura County jail, capped off by five days at the notorious Los Angeles County jail (known as the Twin Towers). (He was jailed last July after missing a couple court appearances in Los Angeles and Ventura County.)
On Monday afternoon, I took a 40-minute drive to Terri Lawton's Oake Knoll Ayrshires farm in nearby Foxboro, MA, to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey.
I know it's not a big deal in the larger scheme of things, to make a special trip to pick up a turkey, but I felt very thankful that I had the opportunity to buy a free range bird straight from a farm. I felt even more gratitude when I was able to pick up a gallon of raw milk and a dozen eggs as well.
What is the essential ingredient enabling farmers and food club operators to successfully resist the seemingly endless government assaults and incursions on private food arrangements?
Nearly without exception, it has been community support, according to several observers, including targeted farmers, who gathered for nearly five hours of panel discussions at the 2012 North American Biodynamic Conference in Madison, WI, on Thursday afternoon.
You might think the Minnesota Department of Agriculture would regroup and reassess after being handed its head by a Minneapolis jury that acquitted Alvin Schlangen of misdemeanor charges just two months ago.
But no, the agency is pushing full speed ahead in a separate administrative case it filed months ago--one of three cases, together with the Minneapolis case and another misdemeanor case in Schlangen's home of Stearns County that were filed against the farmer in connection with his food club's distribution of food to more than 100 members.
When last we left the mystery of the disappearing article in an academic newsletter highlighting raw milk's benefits, it seemed we had been witness to a serious encroachment on academic freedom.
I want to thank Jilly B for sharing with us at least some of the difficulties she has faced since her two-year-old daughter became seriously ill from raw milk.
We don't know the whole story, but we know enough to appreciate that her daughter and entire family have endured a tremendous amount of suffering.
I've struggled with what exactly to say, since she Jilyl sums up the nut of the problem as well as anyone I've seen here, myself included: