Morningland Dairy- The Final Solution

©Doreen Hannes 2013

The Door to Morningland Dairy Cheese House

The Door to Morningland Dairy Cheese House

On August 26th, 2010 the destruction of Morningland Dairy began. Having lost a two and half year battle with cancer of the State, the interment will take place on January 25th, 2013.

People involved in all aspects of food production, be it growing, processing or distributing, should read through all the documentation and understand that Morningland’s saga is the model for all independent food production under the FDA’s new Food Safety Modernization Act. Critical to this destruction are “science-based standards” as opposed to scientifically accurate controls and concerns. The Global Food Safety Initiative combined with “Good Agricultural Practices” and the “Guide to Good Farming” will ensure that an inability to feed the population will occur.  Morningland Dairy is an early casualty of these “science based standards”.

Visions and Hopes-The Birth

Joseph and Denise Dixon took over Morningland Dairy after Denise completed a two year internship with the founders of Morningland, Jim and Margie Reiner. The Dixons finalized the purchase and began improvements on the Missouri Milk Board inspected and approved raw milk cheese plant in October of 2008. The entire family was tremendously pleased because this would allow Joseph to be home with the family instead of on the road working as an electrician in the eastern half of the United States.  The Dixons wanted to expand the varieties of cheese made by the company and ventured into a broader array of production.

Their desire was to help other families in the historically poverty stricken Missouri Ozarks to make an actual living on the farm and allow families to stay together. They consulted with the Missouri Milk Board and arranged for two families to begin providing goat milk to Morningland and launched a popular goat milk cheese line shortly after taking over the company.

Goat Cheese Ready for Labeling

Morningland had six employees and other farming families dependent upon the continuance of the cheese plant. On August 26th, 2010, it came to a screeching halt.

While Joseph and Denise were at a cheese making conference in Washington State, the plant manager received a call from the Missouri Milk Board stating that there was an issue of potential contamination found by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in Morningland cheese.

The cooler of $250,000 worth of cheese was immediately put under embargo, more accurately understood as house arrest, by the Missouri Milk Board. Don Falls, an inspector for the Milk Board, told the plant manager, “You should be back up and running by early next week.” Obviously, that wasn’t true. As a matter of fact, the very next morning, presumably after he spoke with the FDA, Falls’ entire attitude changed.

Over the weekend, the FDA leaked a nation wide recall on all of Morningland’s cheese produced in 2010. Not just the two batches that California indicated might be “suspect” for contamination, but their entire year’s production. Most of the cheese implicated as “suspect” by California had already been consumed. No complaints or ill effects were reported by any of the consumers of any of Morningland’s cheese. Nonetheless, the FDA required all of their products to be recalled.

Cheese in Morningland’s Cooler In Happier Days

Death by Bureaucracy

 Very few people realize the FDA has an armed and very military aspect. They showed up at Morningland in camouflage and made a lovely impression on those able to be at the unveiling of the future of food safety “FDA style”.

The FDA and Milk Board worked hand in hand to ensure that this little cheese plant in the midst of the Missouri Ozarks, that hadn’t made anyone sick in 30 years, would never make another batch of cheese for their loyal customers. Yet the FDA, who admit to killing 100,000 people a year, are allowed to gain ever more control over everything we take into our bodies. So the tally on deaths over the 30 year history of Morningland Dairy versus the FDA is:  Morningland “Zero”, FDA “3 Million”…or somewhere near that.

Despite significant effort, the FDA found no contamination in any cracks or drains in the cheese plant or even on the legs of the milk talk in the dairy barn. This evidence was not allowed to be introduced as part of Morningland’s defense because the Missouri Attorney General’s office contended that the FDA “was a separate issue.”

When pointedly asked what the specific process for getting the cheese plant back into production was, the Milk Board representative said it would involve a panel and consultation with the FDA to determine if that were a possibility. The members of the panel, other than the Milk Board and the FDA, and the specific requirements and processes were never delineated and no effort to achieve anything other than the destruction of the plant was ever evidenced by any official arm of the State of Missouri.

Neither the State of Missouri or the FDA ever conducted any tests on Morningland’s cheese. As a matter of fact, when Morningland tried to contract with a State approved lab to do proper tests on batches of their cheese, they were told that the lab simply did not want to get involved in the controversy. Morningland was denied the ability to legitimately test their product and defend their livelihood.

Adding insult to injury, Milk Board employee Don Falls testified in court and under oath that, improperly collected cheese samples, taken with no supervision and no instruction by an employee of Morningland for the plant’s manager, were in fact the State’s own tests.  This remains a very sore point for Joseph Dixon. He says, “When one commits perjury and no one in authority will hold them accountable for it, that individual and the system they support are nothing more than liars and thieves. In this case, the theft is of our ability to provide for our family and is based on bearing false witness to harm people who have harmed no one.”

Real Life Costs

 While bureaucrats masquerading as “protectors of public health” continue to be paid every month for the tortures they put people through, those being raped and pillaged by the very system that is supposed to “protect” them have to somehow come to terms with the fact that their very own tax dollars are being used to continue the offense.

When it became clear to the Dixons that the Missouri Milk Board was unwilling to work with them toward any resolution that would allow the cheese plant to resume operation or allow for the least bit of recompense for the $250,000 of cheese in the cooler, not even deeming the cheese safe for ultra high pasteurization to be put into dog food, Joseph contacted his previous employer and went back to work as an electrician….away from his home and family.

The Dixons, parents to 12 children, steeled themselves to do what they admonished their children to do. To stand for what was right no matter what the odds against them were. After their appeal for trial by jury was denied, they knew that they would need to face a State Agency, represented by the State Attorney, in front of judges appointed by the State. While they hoped that truth would prevail and that reality would actually be addressed, they didn’t go into this battle wearing rose colored glasses.

Initially, after over five weeks of dumping milk, some of their adult children milked the cows and Morningland sold into the commercial pasteurized chain, trying to make the farm pay for itself. When milk prices plummeted and the cost of feed soared, the decision to close the milk barn down was made. But the Dixons still needed to make the payment on the property they couldn’t use to make a living with any longer. They also had to pay to keep the cheese cooler running as the cheese was still under house arrest and effectively a ward of the State.

With Joseph again away from home during the week, and all the expense of keeping things in tact on the farm, things were difficult. Then Denise’s father became bed-ridden and her mother broke her ankle, so Denise and the younger children went to Ohio to care for her parents.

While the State employees continued to collect their wages, Denise Dixon nursed her mother back to wellness and cared for her father until he passed away. During this time, she had to make a couple of trips back to Missouri to face charges of contempt and allegations of attempting to sell illegal product.

None of the human issues in the disruption of lives and the stress of such assaults by the State seem to be taken into account when figuring the costs of these kinds of actions.

Should one believe the deductions set forth by Missouri’s Courts in this case, and take as fact the aspersions and allegations cast against Morningland in the court transcripts, the conclusion could be drawn that the State was the “Knight in Shining Armor” protecting the unwitting public against immoral people trying to poison their customers with products they created to be harmful.

But the truth is, the truth of the matter doesn’t matter. At least not to agents of the State of Missouri, but the People of Missouri generally hold a different opinion.

“Admittedly,” says Denise, “some of the tactics employed and the characterization of us running a “filthy” facility with “diseased animals” stunned us, but our Father is still in charge, and our hope is not in justice being served in man’s system.”

The End is Near

After exhausting all appeals, the cheese, still being kept cool in the refrigerator at Morningland Dairy, is set to be fully destroyed by the agents of the State, the Missouri Milk Board, on January 25th, 2013.

Two and a half years later, one could reasonably argue that the untended cheese has already been destroyed, and to some extent, that would be accurate. Just imagine that you close your refrigerator door and don’t get permission to look into it for 2 ½ years. How would that look to you? While pickles or olives might still be alright, it is highly likely that your dairy products would be a little bit off after such neglect, right?

Denise Dixon said, “After 6 months, the Colby was already gone, and that was about one fourth of the total cheese inventory. After not tending to it, no turning, no repackaging, no monitoring, at least half the cheddar has been ruined. The destruction has already taken place. Our family business, our livelihood, and our ability to provide people with living, positive food has been destroyed.”

Morningland's Cooler Now

Morningland’s Cooler Now

The Missouri Milk Board has ordered two dumpsters to be delivered to Morningland Dairy. So the cheese, which is “not fit for dog food”, will be put into dumpsters and delivered to a landfill to be consumed by wildlife which evidently are immune to the pathogens feared to be present.

Morningland Dairy will never be in business again.

No offer has been made by the Milk Board to prescribe the conditions that would need to be met by the operators to allow them to resume business. The Judge presiding over the case originally did write a regulatory prescription from the bench that was completely implausible for anyone to meet. It included a requirement to insure that no milking animal had bacteria indicative of potential mastitis at all prior to milking the animal.

To put that one judicial regulation into perspective, allow me to draw a parallel for those unfamiliar with milking animals. You milk twice a day, every day. The milk is “commingled” into one tank. So, imagine this….before sending your child to school, you must take a nasal swab and have it cultured to ensure that your child is not harboring a potential bacterial infection before boarding the bus. You would have to pay for this lab technician to be present every morning and for the tests. When your child came home in the afternoon, the same process would be repeated. You would have the immense pleasure of paying for this and keeping the records to validate the bacterial level present at each measuring.

While the scenario imagined above may not be literally impossible, it is certainly improbable, and it would be impossible to have any profit above the cost of production in such a scenario. But that wasn’t all that this judge set forth as regulation for Morningland from behind the bench, with no comprehension of dairy production or cheesemaking. The other prescriptions the judge made would have cost more than $100,000 in hard costs, with additional continuing costs for excessive testing during the cheesemaking process. He also still required the destruction of all cheese in the cooler, not allowing any batches to be cleared through testing. Additionally, the Missouri Milk Board never indicated that they would accept Morningland returning to production even if they did comply with the Judge Dunlap’s outlandish prescriptions.

The Missouri Milk Board nor the FDA have offered any process by which Morningland might be allowed to resume business and the courts have seemingly upheld Judge Dunlap’s regulating from the bench.

The Battle Is Over

Joseph and Denise Dixon of Morningland Dairy have given everything to this fight. Battling the State wasn’t really about them at all, but about our nation, our freedom, and our ability to choose food for ourselves and for our families that is truly nourishing and real. They held nothing back, but finally, the repeated systemic attacks have run their full course, and the dreams, hopes and labors of love poured into Morningland have succumbed.

As Joseph Dixon has summarized, “The state of Missouri has 6 million people from whom they draw tribute (taxes), from which they could fight us. To fight them, we had 65 cows.  And the truth never seemed even to be a consideration, let alone a goal.”

The Dixons no longer have those cows. They no longer have the cheese. They no longer have the family business and have lost all Joseph’s retirement savings, which the cheese represented. They are left with a skeleton. A milk barn with no cows, and a cheese plant with no milk, nor permission to ever make cheese again.

On January 25th, friends and family will witness the pulling of the plug on the cooler and the removal of the $250,000 worth of food created to nourish but prevented from fulfilling it’s purpose by bureaucracy and science based standards that have no basis in true science.

Rest In Peace, Morningland. Righteous judgment will come.

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For all articles and documents, please visit The Uncheese Party. You can also donate to help the family begin the next segment of their lives.

Farming Without a License is a Criminal Enterprise

©Doreen Hannes
Throughout this nation it is becoming commonplace for state and federal governments to raid food buying clubs, private food co-ops, family farms and even micro farms. The reason these raids are taking place is that the FDA has determined that we are not smart enough to decide what we want to eat. They are making sure that we have a hard time getting food that is actually good for us and fulfilling their public health mission. This is the first in a three article series profiling two cases in the state of Missouri to illustrate what will be terrifically commonplace once Senate Bill 510, (The Food Safety Modernization Act-third article) is in place.
In Missouri we have families, and a food freedom movement, that are being persecuted, and I use that term intentionally, with accusation aforethought. The first family I am going to profile is the Bechard’s of Conway, Missouri. They are facing prosecution by Attorney General Koster for violating the following State statute and were also taken to court -and convicted- by Green County Health Department for “operating a food establishment without a permit”. Basically, they are being taken to court for trying to make a living from their lawful product. Their crime? Providing people with fresh milk that tested out to be perfectly fine and had no complaints or reports of illness associated with it at all.
The Bechard’s have a small farm, where they raise sheep, poultry and cattle and sell their products directly to consumers. They milk six cows and are not a “graded” facility. They deliver milk to their customers at a pre-arranged pick up point in the parking lot of Mama Jeans Natural Foods in Springfield, Missouri. In April of 2009, their eldest daughters were delivering the milk and were approached by someone wanting to buy a half-gallon of milk. Since they had it, they sold it to the man. Two weeks later, the same thing occurred. These two on the spot sales were to employees of the Green County Health Department.
The Health Department tested the milk. What they found was that there was no problem with the milk at all. The first half-gallon was kept overnight possibly on a kitchen counter and did have a high somatic cell count. The second batch was taken to the lab within an hour and had a very low somatic cell count attesting to the Bechard’s cleanliness. These two sales landed the Bechard’s in court.
Let’s look at the state charge first. Here is the pertinent Missouri law on milk :

State milk inspection required on all graded fluid milk or milk products–pasteurization required, exception.
196.935. No person shall sell, offer for sale, expose for sale, transport, or deliver any graded fluid milk or graded fluid milk products in this state unless the milk or milk products are graded and produced, transported, processed, manufactured, distributed, labeled and sold under state milk inspection and the same has also been produced or pasteurized as required by a regulation authorized by section 196.939 and under proper permits issued thereunder. Only pasteurized graded fluid milk and fluid milk products as defined in subdivision (3) of section 196.931 shall be sold to the final consumer, or to restaurants, soda fountains, grocery stores, or similar establishments; except an individual may purchase and have delivered to him for his own use raw milk or cream from a farm.

Evidently, Missouri Attorney General Koster doesn’t understand either the term “graded” or the meaning of the word “except”, and is opting for redefining that word by putting a family’s livelihood on the line and moving forward with prosecution of Armand Bechard for selling his milk to individuals who want the product. Koster’s argument for pursuing a case against the Bechard’s is that he has gone back and read through the floor arguments from 1972 when the law was enacted in Missouri and believes that the legislators didn’t mean what they actually wrote into law. Koster has also consulted with the bureaucracy that is “in charge” of milk in Missouri, “The Milk Board”. Incidentally, the new chair of the Milk Board is also on the Green County Health Department and is driving the charges against the Bechard’s.
For years, the Milk Board has periodically threatened providers of fresh milk with fines and penalties if they continue to sell their product. Usually, the threats come after the Milk Board has made telephone calls to providers of milk listed on a Weston A. Price website called Real Milk. We are listed on that site, and from three weeks to two months prior to actions from the Milk Board instructing people to “cease and desist” or be fined for selling milk, we receive calls for milk from several hours away asking if we have milk for sale; and then I know something is about to happen. This is exactly what happened before the “sting” on the Bechard family occurred.
In the two most recent state legislative sessions there has been a bill put forth to clarify that it is lawful for people to sell their milk to individuals for their own use. Both times, the Milk Board maintained that it wasn’t necessary and once they even wrote a letter for dissemination clarifying that it was indeed legal to sell milk from a farm directly to an individual.
Attorney General Koster asked the Bechard’s to sign a consent decree that states they will never deliver milk at a common pick up point again and instead will take all milk directly to the residence of the people wanting the milk. It also stipulates that the Bechard’s are guilty of violating state law and amounts to a confession of guilt.
Not too surprisingly, this wasn’t an appealing way to resolve the issue for the Bechard’s. We are talking about a product that is not stable in all temperatures and that needs to stay cool so it doesn’t go bad and breed bacteria. If they were to drop off product at residences, there is no telling how long the product could be without refrigeration. People do still work, and most families have both the husband and wife working, so the chances of meeting people at their homes when delivery is possible for all parties is small. The Bechard’s, like anyone in business, are interested in keeping their customers happy, so increasing the chances of sour milk on the doorstep isn’t an idea they want to entertain.

This case will begin in earnest this fall, and the availability of fresh milk in Missouri is dependent on the outcome of this State case against the Bechard’s.
Armand Bechard says, “In 2003 we called and asked the Health Department if we needed to do anything special to sell our milk and they told us that in our situation, according to the law, we were a farm and therefore exempt; we needed no permits at all. That’s what the code in Green County actually states, and we have been selling milk since then in this manner.” Asked if there had been any changes to the municipal code and Armand asserts that there are no changes regarding farm products. The only thing offered in explanation of the suit against them was that the Health Department had adopted the 1999 FDA Food Code. So, evidently, if someone from the Health Department says you need a permit, then you need a permit; even if state and county law don’t require it. Never mind what the law actually says, we’re now being run by the whimsy of agents running off initiatives of Federal bureaucracies. It’s not too comforting for those of us who tend to think unregulated thoughts.
Common sense would dictate that the Bechard case should be a non-issue. No reports of illnesses and no complaints whatsoever about the product, no clear violation of the law, should be no problem, right? But we can’t apply logic to the legal system. The judge found Armand Bechard guilty of violating the Green County Health Department’s adoption of the 1999 FDA Food Code by “operating a food establishment without a permit”. The family pick up truck used to deliver milk is the “establishment”. The County was asking for $1,000 fine and 6 months in jail for selling an unregulated product that caused no harm to any one. The sentence rendered was a $250 fine. Bechard is appealing and has been awarded a new trial.
So the question becomes, what is the Food Code? It is currently a nearly 700 page document for cities, counties, states and local governments to write regulations for their citizens. The initiatives in the Food Code are not necessarily Federal law, they are generally desires of the FDA and are more in line with the international Food Code of Codex Alimentarius than actual regulations or statutes from the Federal government. Wholesale adoption of the Food Code is a dangerous thing for freedom, yet nearly all states have adopted some version as part of their Health Department program. Cooperative Agreements between state and local governments to implement the Food Code are usually accompanied by a big sweaty pile of your money. One of these initiatives included in the Food Code is Healthy People 2020. This is a program through HHS that is supposed to make us all quite healthy. One objective of Healthy People 2020 is to increase the number of states that prohibit the sale or distribution of unpasteurized dairy products.
Missouri is a state with a very obstinate strain of people, especially in the Ozarks region of the state where the Bechard’s and Morningland Dairy (the other issue I am profiling for you in this series) are located. The Missouri Mule is famous because it adequately displays the characteristics of the citizens of the state. As a general rule, we won’t be pushed or coerced into doing something we don’t want to do. I personally find it a little more than interesting that the MIAC Report, targeting close to 70% of the citizens of the state and these recent attacks on raw dairy are happening here, where resistance is great.
If Missouri falls to full implementation of the Food Code and Healthy People 2020 the rest of the states will likely be little competition for the overreaching federal government controls brought to full enforcement by the Food Safety Modernization Act (S510). Meanwhile, we continue to fight for the right to eat what we choose, and the Bechard family faces increasing court costs. The bottom line of all of this is that if you are at all interested in agriculture, meaning you have an interest in continuing to eat food, you must become an ‘agtivist’. No Farmers-No Food.

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