By Richard S. Gubbe
The Raw Milk Freedom Riders, a group that comprises “Food Freedom Advocates” from across the United States, will be staging a raw milk transport over the Wisconsin border and into Chicago Thursday, Dec. 8, culminating in a rally at Independence Park.
The caravan and “Free Milk and Cookies” rally has been organized to protest the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) policies regarding interstate commerce regulation of the sale and distribution of raw milk. Wisconsin law prohibits such sales by independent farms, while Illinois laws allow the sale of raw milk by farmers to consumers.
The group of advocates will be transporting 100 gallons of raw milk across the border from Walworth, Wis., into Illinois north of Harvard, then arriving for a rally at Independence Park, 3850 W. Irving Park Road, in Chicago. The route planned is through Harvard and Marengo onto I-90 beginning at 11:30 a.m. and arriving in Chicago approximately 90 minutes later.
Organizers and advocates will be making speeches about lost freedoms of the independent farmer. A similar “Freedom Ride” was staged in Maryland. No arrests were reported.
Wisconsin farmers who sell raw milk to individuals through cooperatives are donating the milk, but are remaining anonymous to avoid prosecution.
“The farmers are going to be anonymous so they are not a target of the FDA,” organizer Max Kane said.
Food Freedom organizers that include Kane, David Gumpert, Liz Reitzig, Kathy Pirtle, John Moody, Jim Marlowe and others say they are “dedicated to raw milk choice and food freedom.”
The statement issued by the group includes the following:
“We hope you will join us for a rally and peaceful demonstration at Independence Park in Chicago. We are welcoming EVERYONE to join us at the rally and help make a HUGE statement to the FDA on our movement toward personal choice, dietary privacy, and food freedom! We are informing the FDA of our intentions and inviting them to the party as we caravan over 100 gallons of raw milk from Wisconsin and then distribute in Chicago at Independence Park. It is time to challenge the FDA on the law that turns honest parents and farmers into criminals for transporting raw milk across state lines.”
Kane, of Viroqua, Wis., said a permit has been acquired for the rally in Chicago. He said organizers picked Independence Park “because it had a good name.”
The program will include speakers advocating change to FDA and state regulations regarding raw milk consumption. The program will conclude with a milk-and-cookie toast.
E-mail questions to the Freedom Riders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, see www.RawMilkFreedomRiders.com.
Kane, who calls himself “a student of nutrition,” said he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 10 years old. Now in his early 30s, he said “natural remedies” cured him.
“My full-time job is to take care of my body,” Kane told The Rock River Times. “I was injured by the medical profession with dangerous drugs and medications.”
Eating all foods raw — meat, dairy and vegetables — Kane said, eliminated his disease.
“My health now is excellent,” he said. “I eat 100 percent raw food and organic food. I consume raw milk, beef, chicken, pork and eggs. I give 100 percent credit to the raw foods. If you eat that way, your health will improve.”
Kane said bacteria in foods, such as e-coli and trichinosis, “don’t cause disease. People who watch TV are just brain-dead zombies. TV is god, whether they have any personal experience or not. Whatever the doctor says is god. The TV and doctor are the authority figures. People bow before them and don’t ask questions. They are emotionally attached to a belief system out of fear.”
Wisconsin dairy farmers have been waiting for the opportunity to legally sell raw milk directly to consumers, but have been stalled in the state legislature on numerous occasions. Senate Bill 108, introduced by state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, last May 26 was referred to the Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Higher Education Committee, according to state Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, a bill co-sponsor. Action is not expected anytime soon.
Senate Bill 108 would allow a dairy farmer with a license and a Grade A permit to register with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for the right to sell unpasteurized milk and milk products. The DATCP’s testing and milk quality rules would not apply to a registered farmer who milks fewer than 20 cows.
While Wisconsin state politicians have shown reluctance to buck up against the powerful dairy industry lobby, small farmers have ignored the current regulations. Often, they sell milk to co-op customers who pay to belong. Farmers say co-op members are part owners of their farms and, thus, the state has no right to regulate them.
One small, organic farmer, Vernon Hershberger, of Loganville, has chosen to ignore the state regulations because he says they violate his basic freedoms. Hershberger was raided by the DATCP in July 2010. The raid was captured on film and posted on YouTube. The film shows the Mennonite farmer, his pregnant wife and children held in their living room 35 miles west of the Dells at gunpoint while state officials poured out his raw milk and sealed his refrigerators and freezers with yellow crime scene tape. His wife later miscarried.
While state officials have virtually left him alone since as a result of a public outcry, Hershberger received a letter recently from the DATCP summoning him to their office to meet Dec. 1. Hershberger has said attending the meeting would only acknowledge to the state that he is a retailer and not a co-op farmer, and he said he doesn’t plan to attend.
Richard Gubbe is an award-winning journalist of 38 years, public relations specialist and Reiki Master Teacher. He is a longtime Rockford resident who has taught preventative health, visualization and Reiki at Rock Valley College since 2003.
From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011, issue