Food freedom legal battles rage
By Richard S. Gubbe
While organic farmer Vernon Hershberger prepares for his next day in court, support for his food freedom cause and the proposed raw milk bill in the Wisconsin state legislature have drawn attention from Illinois to Canada and coast to coast in the United States.
These events are signs that organic farming and raw milk activists are bonding in the Midwest, but reports of an Amish farmer giving up his fight in Pennsylvania signal that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not bowing to public pressure.
The Washington Times, Food Freedom and Natural News all reported that Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer has had to give up the raw milk fight. Following a ruling last month by Judge Lawrence F. Stengel that Allgyer could no longer ship raw milk across state lines, he will close down his Rainbow Acres Farm.
In February 2010, the FDA conducted a raid on Allgyer’s Kinzers, Pa., farm similar to that which was conducted by the State of Wisconsin on Hershberger in July 2010. The FDA was looking for evidence that Allgyer was shipping raw milk across state lines in violation of interstate commerce statutes. Allgyer lost his fight because of a lack of funds and the inability to take on the U.S. government.
There are two rallies planned for Hershberger and to support Senate Bill 108. The first rally will be Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the state Capitol building in Madison, Wis., while a Rights Workshop is planned for March 1 in Baraboo, Wis., with a rally the following day.
Hershberger has garnered the support of Canadian rights activist Michael Schmidt, who used a hunger strike last summer to bring attention to the cause that people should have the right to grow and eat what they want.
Schmidt issued the following statement regarding Hershberger’s plight: “Finally, we have a farmer who openly challenges government bureaucrats with courage and determination. It will be of utmost importance that those who truly believe in individual rights and fundamental freedom to rise up and join Vernon Hershberger. His act of open resistance will become a milestone in this battle for food rights and fundamental freedom. Everyone is called upon to stand behind the Hershberger family in any way possible. The next weeks will be extremely crucial: this will of defiance will spread like wildfire. It is not about you and me; this is about our children and our future.”
The state Department of Justice has filed four charges and stated Hershberger cannot sell any food products without a proper license. He claims he is not a business but rather a group-owned co-op. He says he is just the caretaker of the animals and the land west of Baraboo, Wis. The state also said he may not manufacture or process any dairy products, nor sell any without a proper license. The state said he also may not have anyone else operate his farm or work in any room or building on his property.
This past week, Hershberger asked his co-op to no longer refer to the store on his farm as a store but rather as a pantry.
The Raw Milk Freedom Riders and Farm Food Freedom Coalition are hosting the workshop in Baraboo in the afternoon of March 1, with the March 2 rally corresponding with Hershberger’s court appearance the next day.
The workshop will focus on the peaceful non-compliance and how to peacefully stand up in confrontational situations. Schmidt will be a speaker along with Food Freedom activist John Moody, author David Gumpert, dairy farmer Mel Olsen and Raw Milk Freedom Riders/Farm Food Freedom Coalition co-founder Liz Reitzig.
Hershberger’s hearing is set for 1 p.m., March 2, in Sauk County Circuit Court, 515 Oak St., Baraboo, Wis.
In response to last week’s article in The Rock River Times, Gayle Loiselle and Members of Nourished by Nature, LLC, sent in the following letter to Wisconsin State Sen. Dale Schultz in reference to Senate Bill 108:
“We are a group of 77 families who are being denied access to raw milk from cows we legally purchased. The livelihood of the farm family who cared for our cows has been destroyed. This is happening all over the state. We respectfully request you review the constitutions of both the United States and of Wisconsin as well as the Declaration of Independence and find the strength within you to stand against tyranny and the dairy industry in favor of the truth and the will of the people of Wisconsin.
“Nourished by Nature, LLC, is a legally formed business, we purchased at market value 13 cows and contracted with a farmer to care for and to make available unpasteurized milk from these cows to members of the LLC. In addition, I personally own a cow with one other person, kept in the same herd at the same farm as mentioned. I am also being denied access to my personal property.
“You may be familiar with our case; ex-Judge Patrick J. Fiedler claims, among other things, that there is no fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of our choice.
“Beside being blatantly unconstitutional, this ruling is just wrong on so many levels. And we believe you know that it is wrong. And we believe you also know Fiedler three weeks later resigned as a judge and went to work for a law firm that represents Monsanto, and that Fiedler is also seeking to be president of the Wisconsin Bar Association. Is this what our state has come to, that the courts and the legislature are the puppets of the highest bidder? Is this democracy?
“Do you have children? Do you and your wife choose what they eat? Would you be OK with the agents of the health department taking their lunch from them in school, telling them their mother gave them bad food? This just happened to a pre-schooler. Can you see where this is going if we let special interests dictate our laws? Do you like what you see?
“Don’t disrespect us by saying raw milk is a public health hazard, that just isn’t true and I think you know it. Tobacco is a known health hazard … alcohol is a known health hazard … growth hormones are a known health hazard … GMO foods are a known health hazard … BPA is a known health hazard yet, these products, drugs and chemicals are in the majority of foods in the majority of stores throughout our country making millions of people sick and raising health care costs. Americans are actively seeking out raw milk for its health benefits, and the dairy industry doesn’t like it. We know the truth, most of the world knows the truth, and so do you.
“Please … don’t put a turkey vulture in a room and try to convince us it’s a bald eagle. We, the people, do know the difference.
“Sen. Schultz, you have a choice to make, you can either choose the highest bidder or the people you represent. Please, get S.B. 108 to committee now, get a public hearing scheduled and listen, really listen to the people you represent. If you have the integrity to stand by them and make the tough choices, they will stand by you.”
The pre-schooler referenced in the letter was attending school in Raeford, N.C. The story was reported by the Carolina Journal and contained the following:
“A pre-schooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
“The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.
“The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.”
The 4-year-old, described as not being a fan of vegetables, was advised along with two other children to eat a cafeteria-provided lunch of chicken nuggets. The story went viral, and national news organizations reported it, crashing the Carolina Journal online site.
The family of the girl responded that the event was an intrusion of the rights of parents to feed their children whatever they wanted.
From the Feb. 22-28, 2012, issue