WI Raw Dairy Producers Wait for the Other Shoe to Drop; Seeking Raw Milk at Scrumptuous Wise Traditions Meals

Max Kane of Belle's Lunchbox buyers club interviews Ann Marie Michaels of Real Food Media (www.cheeseslave.com) at the Wise Traditions conference, for a film he is producing about his experiences championing raw milk.What’s going to happen next for raw milk producers in Wisconsin? That was one of the big questions being asked this weekend at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions conference just outside Chicago.

A number of Wisconsin farmers who have been feeling the bite of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection were at the conference, and they report a combination of pressure and politics. On the pressure side:

-At the Zinniker Family Farm, owner Petra Zinniker reports that the farm, which has been shut down for more than a month after an outbreak of illness from campylobacter among its herdshare owners, is dumping about 150 gallons of milk each day. As yet, there’s been no formal report on the illness outbreak from public health officials, she says. The Zinnikers hope to be able to reopen soon based on a settlement with Petra Zinniker of Zinniker Family Farm.DATCP.

--Other Wisconsin farmers wonder who will be the next DATCP target. Wayne Craig, a raw dairy producer, thinks he's "next on the list," since the agency hasn't renewed the retail license he operates his Grassway Organics Farm Store under. He's expecting a special summary order will be filed, which would shut the store.

--Max Kane, the Wisconsin buying club owner facing a court session next month, is encouraging consumers and farmers to attend his hearing December 21. He will be holding a rally outside the courthouse in advance of when he faces a judge as to why he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for refusing to provide a list of his members to DATCP. Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures has said he’ll attend, and I plan to be there as well.

Dan Siegmann, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, who is pushing for legislation to provide for sale of raw milk in the state. The savior for Wisconsin farmers could turn out to be legislation expected to move through the state legislature beginning as soon as this week. Dan Siegmann, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, reported that legislators in both the assembly and the senate are pushing bills that would legalize the sale of raw milk by Grade A dairies. That revelation at an informal meeting Saturday at the Wise Traditions conference among Wisconsin farmers and supporters prompted concerns about whether the state’s many tiny unlicensed dairies would get left out in the cold. The consensus seemed to be that it is best to confront one challenge at a time—get the legislation covering licensed dairies passed first, and then deal with unlicensed dairies.

***

Kristin Canty, the Massachusetts producer of a documentary about the legal problems confronting farmers and food producers, showed some segments of the upcoming film at the Wise Traditions conference. One segment included footage of one of the raids on the Pennsylvania dairy farm owned by Mark Nolt. (He has been raided three times.) The grainy video shows state police standing guard from the top steps of his farm store, while Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture agents go in and out of the store, removing thousands of dollars worth of equipment and products, while Mark Nolt is advised to stand aside. It’s the first known footage from the Nolt raids. 

 ***

The Wise Traditions conference had about 1,200 attendees, Weston A. Price Foundation president Sally Fallon reported. This was the tenth such conference—the first had about 75 people, and most of  the speakers cancelled out, she recalled after she was presented with a special award in honor of the anniversary at the banquet dinner.

As usual, the food was wonderful. Lots of excellent meats, fresh veggies, fermented veggies, and delicious creamy desserts—a cheese cake and key lime pie that were notable for both their creaminess and crunchy crusts. One missing ingredient, though, was raw dairy. There was lots of butter and whipped cream, and it was all from a local dairy with grass-fed cows. But it was pasteurized.

From various conversations I had, it seems there was some question about whether Illinois dairies could provide enough raw milk for the large crowd, as well as concern about attracting the attention of regulators by serving raw dairy at a large hotel in a state that only allows purchase from the farm.

I was honored to speak at the banquet dinner, and I sought to take attendees “inside the mind of the regulator.” I argued that the conflict over raw milk is part of a larger struggle between  those who value nutrient-dense food, and those who disparage its value. I also argued that the conflict is at a turning point, and that consumers and farmers need to work aggressively to educate consumers at large about the nature of the struggle, while paying close attention to safety. I suggested they use some of the same tactics of the regulators—in particular, monitoring regulator activities by recording their enfrorcement activities with videos and tweets and Facebook posts. A good summary at The Nourishing Gourmet.

More to come from the conference...Also, this wrapup of weekend events from Kelly the Kitchencop.

I can hear the groans of agony already before I've even finished typing this post...LONG before it is read by anyone...but David's article compels me to beat my poor, bloody, dead horse once again.

"I argued that the conflict over raw milk is part of a larger struggle between those who value nutrient-dense food, and those who disparage its value."

With apologies in advance for rudeness, no, David, it is not a "...struggle between those who value nutrient-dense food and those who disparage its value."

That, along with the "dangerous" raw milk argument, are nothing more than straw-man arguments that provide cover for politicians and government bureaucrats whose sole end-game is retention of power and control of the sheep.

I'll say, yet again, any argument for raw milk in particular and nutrient dense foods in general is doomed to failure if based on science, be it a food safety study or a nutritional study. The government can always come up with yet another study here or scientific paper there that will back their side of the argument up while tearing ours down.

Ultimately, the only thing that will win for our side is a demand that the government do only what the constitution gives it the authority to do...protect our rights. Not give us rights...if they have the authority to grant rights they have the authority to take them, and the constitution disagrees with that wholeheartedly.

No...demand they protect our rights, including our right to make our own nutritional choices, and, when doing so, by phone, email, letter, or in person, remind them that we don't work for them, they work for us.

Its time to take our country back. Do we have the will, or are we sheep?

Bob Hayles
http://www.juicymaters.com

David,

This stinks of prohibition. Depending on who you read; the increasing crime rates of the time were linked to alcohol. The thought of the day was to rid the world of booze and lower crime. It backfired- crime shot up, forcing criminals to become organized and more deadly. People still got their booze, gangsters ruled the era during and after prohibition.

If tptb truly cared about food safety, they would change to filth of factory farms/processing plants, injections of chemicals into our food chain, the contamination of the environment, etc. It seems it is the same song and dance.

tptb pander to big business. As said many times, people are slowly opening their eyes, they are making better choices. Raw dairy and healthy farming practices have a battle before them. I've no doubt they will win in the end.

"The consensus seemed to be that it is best to confront one challenge at a timeget the legislation covering licensed dairies passed first, and then deal with unlicensed dairies..."

This is totally and absolutely ass backwards, and is a slap in the face to the heart of the raw milk movement. This movement has a backbone....and it is the small unlicensed, wouldn't ever consider selling commercial for pasteurization, type of farm. The notion that they can be 'dealt with later', giving those who also feed the boilers profit margin the advantage to conduct business, is morally wrong....and I find it repugnant.

This attitude is ugly...and more attention has to be paid to the means, rather than focusing too strongly on the 'goal', and turning your back on the real substance of the movement.

Bet there weren't many small unlicensed dairymen in your 'consensus'...... (they were probably out on the farm that weekend, milking their cows).

I'm dismayed how far the raw milk movement is straying from it's core. It appears not to be a beneficial evolution. And it occurs, that it might make it more vulnerable to being swallowed up by a big Carnivore.

Milk farmer...amen.

Please contact me...either through David...he has my contact info...or through my blog.

Bob Hayles
http://www.JuicyMaters.com

Can you name the criminal or maybe the criminals in this video? Is it indeed the farmer {Michael Schmidt] in the straw hat leading the cows that produce the "dangerous" raw milk that is legal and OK to drink no problem BUT [the gotcha legal dirty trick used to arrest] ILLEGAL TO SELL? COMMERCE THE TRAP??? Did not James Madison state something to the effect that commerce should be made regular not limited by regulation?
http://thebovine.wordpress.com/
Glencolton farms raid.

A 2nd AMEN to Milkfarmer.

I think the biggest danger producers and consumers of raw dairy face is the desire of many of the consumers to have a government agency( run by and on behalf of the Dairy Industry ,of course) oversee the production of raw dairy.Of course regular testing and licensing will be used to eliminate the production of raw dairy products, for public health reasons.

For anyone who thinks that bacteria respond to the microenvironment they find themselves in by adapting in order to survive,it is very hard to believe that culturing a sample of bacteria on an Agar plate in the presence of a special nutrient broth along with antibiotic does NOT induce it to mutate.The question I will always have about "pathogen" tests is:Was the "pathogen" in the original sample or was it found because the microenvironment on the plate was favorable to that specific strain of the sample bacteria?

The underlying assumption of all "pathogen" tests is that commensal bacteria will not mutate into "pathogenic" bacteria.Genetic engineers have proven that they can and do mutate,and especially so when the microenvironment is changed drastically.

Regulation and "pathogen" testing are simply the tools that the Dairy Industry will use to eliminate competition.Why should we volunteer to be under the thumb of the Industry that is opposed to our existence?

Miguel - NPR is catching up with you. A show from last week reported that gut microbes (in mice, transplanted from human feces) could not only establish themselves in the mice, but when the diet of the mice changed to high sugar and high fat, the community of microbes changed within 24 hours to favor a balance which put weight onto the mice. See http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120318757

" 'We were quite amazed that the community really restructured itself in terms of the proportional representation of different bacterial species, the proportional representation of genes with different functions, in a very short period of time," says Gordon. 'Certain members of that society of microbes became very dominant, and certain members became more diminutive.'

"And when this new collection of human microbes was transplanted into germ-free mice, the mice gained an increased amount of fat tissue even when fed low-fat diets, compared to mice that got human microbes from mice fed low-fat diets.

"That was the biggest surprise for John Mekalanos, chairman of the department of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School, who co-wrote a commentary that appeared with the research report. 'What it really suggests is that our biota really shape the way we respond to food,' Mekalanos says."

Their studies were, of course, focused on that favorite American obsession, weight gain. We can only hope that they will broaden their horizons and start hypothesizing and studying microbe imbalances which cause diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. Then maybe even science will "get it" that we are what we eat, and we'd better not be eating processed foods which contain preservatives which attack our gut communities and which don't contain much else that we need to survive.

Hey - how about eating foods which already have healthful balances in them?? What a great idea!!

A news story was just published in the Global Business section of the New York Times:

Raw Milk Sales Could Reinvigorate U.S. Dairy Farms

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/business/global/17iht-rbofmilk.html?_r=1

"For four generations the Gibbs family milked cattle on their farm in a fertile valley in Allamuchy Township, New Jersey. Facing dismally low milk prices, Frank Gibbs and his sons, Brant and Keith, struggled this year to continue the tradition. But a month ago, they sold off their entire herd of nearly 200 cows.

They are not the only ones. There are now fewer than 100 New Jersey dairy farms, less than a third of the number 10 years ago.

One potential solution had eluded them, because the sale of higher-priced raw, or unpasteurized, milk is illegal in their state."

*** Urgent! ***

Dairy Groups Urge Senators to Include Raw Milk Facilities in Food Safety Regulations

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dairy-groups-urge-senators-to-include-raw-milk-facilities-in-food-safety-regulations-70195142.html

"WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although unpasteurized, or raw, milk products pose a significant food safety hazard, facilities producing these products are not covered by any of the food safety regulations proposed so far this year by Congress. These facilities also remain exempt from existing regulations enforced by all states, which are know as the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), that set the standard for maintaining the safety of the nation's milk and milk product supply. Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that have been aged to eliminate the risk of food borne illnesses are not considered raw milk products.

The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation have asked senators planning to mark up key food safety legislation next week to rectify this omission. In a letter to Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Michael Enzi (R-WY), the committee's ranking member, the dairy groups called for requiring all facilities producing raw or unpasteurized milk products for direct human consumption to register with FDA and adhere to the tried-and-true food safety requirements that are followed by all other facilities producing milk products."

I've been thinking (usually a dangerous thing, I know), and while re-reading the post a couple of weeks ago regarding the dumping of raw milk in Georgia on the order of FDA and state ag gestap...er...officials...I came up with a rather hair-brained idea.

What if a couple of us here in Georgia were to know some folks that would like to have some good, fresh South Carolina raw milk? And what if those folks ordered and paid for that raw milk in advance, to be picked up on a certain day? And what if a couple of us offered to pick up those folks already bought and paid for raw milk for them and bring it back...especially since a couple of us had to go get our own raw milk anyway?

And what if one of us made sure, by calling Walter Garrison, the Georgia Dept of Agriculture's assistant secretary, that the state knew in advance that we were going to do just that...day, time, everything.

And what if that same one of us also made sure that media knew what was going down...local newspaper, local TV, Atlanta newspaper and TV, maybe even national media (Glen Beck comes to mind)...

Shucks, we could even tell ol' Gumpert what was going on...

And what if, when we got back, one of us defied any quarantine or dumping order, told the state boys to go to h*ll, that we were going to take our legally purchased and owned milk and going home with it, and tried to drive off?

What if two of us did it?

What if more of us...a lot more...did it?

(Do you hear Arlo Guthrie tuning up for "Alice's Restaurant" in the background?)

If someone will drive I'll buy the gas...and I'll be the first one to take my milk and tell them to go to hell.

Any takers?

Always remember two things, and remind any politician or bureaucrat you come in contact with of them:

"We don't work for you. You work for us."

and

Its time to take OUR government, and country, back.

Bob Hayles
http://www.JuicyMaters.com

Wow - revelations tonight - my head hurts. Wisconsin might legalize raw milk, and the Feds want to regulate it? Is the raw milk discussion really on the table, and we're going to let them take it from us?

About legalizing raw milk sales for Grade A dairies in Wisconsin:

Wouldn't the herdshare contract sustain small farms? No gov't intervention, no sales tax, no more polemic about raw milk? Or is it naive to think they wouldn't outlaw contractual agreements?

If they unleashed Grade A dairies to run wild in retail stores, with their confined soy-fed hormone'd milk, and folks got sick, then what would happen?

Or what if nobody got sick, then what would happen? Either way, the subject of bacteria has to come up.

Maybe this raw milk polemic can simply dissolve into thin air, and we can pick up the grain-fed feedlot beef, biofuel, regional food supplies and economy issues?

What if regulators finally contemplated cellular health? Think how government would shrink and economies thrive!

Seems to me like the pavement is cracking and there's some weeds pokin through. But maybe I'm naive.

Carpe Diem,
-Blair

Blair, the hopes and wishes shown in your comment are laudable, but I believe, absent a LOT more movement on government's part, I'll take Robert Novak's words to heart:

"Always love your country but NEVER trust your government."

Bob Hayles
JuicyMaters...the blog
Homesteading, cooking, yurts, politics...Eclectic or just weird?
Web: 'http://www.juicymaters.com/'>juicymaters.com
Email: roberthayles@windstream.net
Phone: 678.995.8339

Remind every politician and government bureaucrat you encounter...
You work for us. We don't work for you.

Its time to take our government...and our country...back.

"The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation have asked senators planning to mark up key food safety legislation next week to rectify this omission. In a letter to Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Michael Enzi (R-WY), the committee's ranking member, the dairy groups called for requiring all facilities producing raw or unpasteurized milk products for direct human consumption to register with FDA and adhere to the tried-and-true food safety requirements that are followed by all other facilities producing milk products."

There is danger here, when conventional milk producers seek to manage all raw milk. Beware.

The profit margin of the raw stuff, combined with the processors destruction of the commercial milk market, and throw in the tough economic times, sets the stage for raw milk to be co-opted and ruined. The 'consensus' at the convention makes it even more probable.

Raw milk is different, and the more people get into it because it's 'profitable' the more problems we will have. Large commercial farming is not the best way to produce good quality raw milk...large commercial farms are the best way to 'make money'....

This attempt by 'dairy groups' is a unabashed attempt to control the raw milk market, and make it difficult for, or eliminate, the small producers.

Bob- we'll try and contact you later today

David, your book is accurately titled.

"Wouldn't the herdshare contract sustain small farms? No gov't intervention, no sales tax, no more polemic about raw milk? Or is it naive to think they wouldn't outlaw contractual agreements?"

In Wisconsin, I wish it were that simple. First, let me state that I am a Wisconsin farmshare owner, so that should give you some perspective of where I am coming from. There is a law on the books in WI that says all milk shall be pasteurized, thus, no raw milk sales by law. DATCP (the Dept. of Ag.) has the power to make exceptions to this law. Their Rule says that anyone who has a bona fide ownership interest in the company that owns the farm can purchase raw milk from that farm - thus the farmshare concept. Unfortunately, I believe the words BONA FIDE are going to trip us up. By legal definition, 'bona fide' means:

bona fide (boh-n fId or boh-n fI-dee), adj. [Latin "in good faith"] 1. Made
in good faith; without fraud or deceit. 2. Sincere; genuine. See GOOD
FAITH. -- bona fide, adv.

Without fraud or deceit. Is a $10 ownership interest in a farm legitimate or is it fraud? I.e. trying to get around the current law? DATCP will argue the latter. They have tolerated farmshares up until now, but I believe they will be tolerated no more.

<<Without fraud or deceit. Is a $10 ownership interest in a farm legitimate or is it fraud? I.e. trying to get around the current law? DATCP will argue the latter. They have tolerated farmshares up until now, but I believe they will be tolerated no more.>>

if i own a single share of stock in, say, GE i'm a bona fide owner of GE curretly GE stock is worth about $16.

a $10 interest in a business is a bona fide interest....

can our lawyer members punch any holes in this concept?

The $10 ownership interest has no expectation of profit (the milk still has to be purchased, it is not considered profit-sharing, at least in Wisconsin). Your GE stock has an expectation of profit (dividends, an increase in share price). Is that still a bona fide interest?

The real question to ask is: Isn't the State of Wisconsin guilty of "Restraint of Trade" when it colludes with a Dairy Industry made up of essentially one processor(Dean Foods) to force dairy farmers to produce milk for that processor or go out of business?Direct sales to consumers is the only alternative the farmers have.By making this illegal,the state is essentially joining Dean Foods in an attempt to enslave the farmers.

If miguel is correct, I'd like to hear an opinion from Pete, Steve, or Gary on it as RICO applies.

Bob Hayles
http://www.JuicyMaters.com

Every time you see an elected official or government bureaucrat, tell them:
"We don't work for you. You work for us."

milk farmer,

I think I agree with you on this one (not sure since we never seem to agree on anything). Call me a fear mongerer, but this NYT story is scary. The worst thing that could happen to raw dairies and public health, IMHO, would be to have an insurgence of people with varying degrees of experience/knowledge entering the raw milk "business" with the primary motivation: money. I am not against people making a good living, but raw milk has certain vulnerabilities...would you agree...the last thing any of us need is a catastrophic outbreak due to a rush to profit, which seems even more likely if there is an influx of struggling CAFOs going "raw"? Is it really such a good idea to dangle that $$ carrot in front of them?

Raw Milk Sales Could Reinvigorate U.S. Dairy Farms

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/business/global/17iht-rbofmilk.html

"According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group for organic foods, dairy farmers who sell unpasteurized milk directly to the customer currently command $5 to $7 per gallon.

Theres no middleman, and people are willing to pay a premium for raw milk and related products, said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the foundation. As the dairy crisis gets worse, raw is becoming more and more attractive.

Lykke,
Your first reaction is always to push the fear button. Finally, there's some recognition that raw milk production could offer salvation to dairy farmers failing by the dozens and hundreds every day, and you won't even give it another look.

Last month, I wrote about a feedlot operator, Ed Shank, who transitioned to an organic raw dairy operation. It wasn't easy. It took three years and a lot of hard work. But it can be done.
http://www.thecompletepatient.com/journal/2009/10/5/we-can-feed-the-world-says-ed-shank-as-he-transitions-from-f.html

Here's an idea: Put those agriculture department inspectors and seat warmers who are so intent on crushing hard working raw dairy producers to work helping dairy farmers make the transition Ed Shank has made. Not every dairy farmer will be up to the challenge of so radically changing their animal raising and business models. Let the regulators help make pastures productive, rather than waste lands.