Rural Cannon Fodder

A very interesting article, from a very interesting food freedom advocate and (ahem) super star, Joel Salatin…..I have put a few things in bold as I felt they really needed emphasis:

USDA: Rural population needed not for farming but for cannon fodder

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack values rural people less as farmers than as soldiers, says Joel Salatin. Photo: USDAgov/Flickr.

Joel Salatin recently posted this piece on the Polyface Farms Facebook page and we repost it here with Joel’s permission. — Ed

Why do we need more farmers? What is the driving force behind U.S. Department of Agriculture policy?

In an infuriating epiphany I have yet to metabolize, I found out last Wednesday in a private policy-generation meeting with Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. I did and still do consider it a distinct honor for his staff to invite me as one of the 25 dignitaries in Virginia agriculture for this think-tank session in Richmond.

It was a who’s who of Virginia agriculture: Farm Bureau, Va. Agribusiness Council, Va. Forestry Association, Va. Poultry Federation, Va. Cattlemen’s Association., deans from Virginia Tech and Virginia State — you get the picture.

It was the first meeting of this kind I’ve ever attended that offered no water. The only thing to drink were soft drinks. Lunch was served in styrofoam clam shells — Lay’s potato chips, sandwiches, potato salad and chocolate chip cookie. It didn’t look very safe to me, so I didn’t partake. But I’d have liked a drink of water. In another circumstance, I might eat this stuff, but with these folks, felt it important to make a point. Why do they all assume nobody wants water, nobody cares about styrofoam, everybody wants potato chips and we all want industrial meat-like slabs on white bread?

But I digress. The big surprise occurred a few minutes into the meeting: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack walked in. He was in Terry McAuliffe love-in mode. And here is what he told us: in 2012, for the first time ever — rural America lost population in real numbers — not as a percentage but in real numbers. It’s down to 16 percent of total population.

I’m sitting there thinking he’s going to say that number needs to go up so we have more people to love and steward the landscape. More people to care for earthworms. More people to grow food and fiber.

Are you ready for the shoe to drop? The epiphany? What could the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, at the highest strategic planning sessions of our land, be challenged by other leaders to change this figure, to get more people in rural America, to encourage farming and help more farms get started? What could be the driving reason to have more farmers?

Why does he go to bed at night trying to figure out how to increase farmers? How do the President and other cabinet members view Vilsack’s role as the nation’s farming czar? What could be the most important contribution that increasing farmers could offer to the nation? Better food? Better soil development? Better care for animals? Better care for plants?

Are you ready? Here’s his answer: although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military. Say what? You mean when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line — you know all the cliches — the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might. He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we’ll lose our military might.

So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle. It’s not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it’s all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military. This puts an amazing twist on things. You see, I think we should have many more farmers, and have spent a lifetime trying to encourage, empower, and educate young people to go into farming. It never occurred to me that this agenda was the key to American military power.

Lest I be misread, I am not opposed to defending family. I am not opposed to fighting for sacred causes. But I am violently opposed to non-sacred fighting and meddling in foreign countries, and building empires. The Romans already tried that and failed.

But to think that my agenda is key to building the American military — now that’s a cause for pause. I will redouble my efforts to help folks remember why we need more farmers. It’s not to provide cannon fodder for Wall Street imperialistic agendas. It’s to grow food that nourishes, husband land that’s aesthetically and aromatically sensually romantic, build soil, hydrate raped landscapes, and convert more solar energy into biomass than nature would in a static state. I can think of many, many righteous and noble reasons to have more farms. Why couldn’t Secretary Vilsack have mentioned any of these? Any?

No, the reason for more farms is to make sure we get people signing up at the recruitment office. That’s the way he sees me as a farmer. Not a food producer. When the president and his cabinet have their private confabs, they don’t see farmers as food producers, as stewards of the landscape, as resource leveragers. No, they view us as insurance for military muscle, for American empire-building and soldier hubris. Is this outrageous? Do I have a right to be angry? Like me, this raw and bold show of the government’s farming agenda should make us all feel betrayed, belittled, and our great nation besmirched.

Perhaps, just perhaps, really good farms don’t feed this military personnel pipeline. I’d like to think our kind of farming has more righteous goals and sacred objectives. Vilsack did not separate good farmers from bad farmers. Since we have far more bad farmers than good ones, perhaps the statistic would not hold up if we had more farmers who viewed the earth as something to heal instead of hurt, as a partner to caress instead of rape. That America’s farms are viewed by our leaders as just another artery leading into military might is unspeakably demeaning and disheartening.

Tragically, I don’t think this view would change with a different Democrat or Republican. It’s entrenched in the establishment fraternity. Thomas Jefferson, that iconic and quintessential agrarian intellectual, said we should have a revolution about every half century just to keep the government on its toes. I’d say we’re long overdue.

Now when you see those great presidentially appointed cabinet members talking, I just want you to think about how despicable it is that behind the facade, behind the hand shaking and white papers, in the private by-invitation-only inner circles of our country, movers and shakers know axiomatically that farms are really important to germinate more military personnel. That no one in that room with Terry McAuliffe, none of those Virginia farm leaders, even blinked when Vilsack said that is still hard for me to grasp. They accepted it as truth, probably saying “Amen, brother” in their hearts. True patriots, indeed.

It’ll take me awhile to get over this, and believe me, I intend to shout this from the housetops. I’ll incorporate in as many public speeches as I can because I think it speaks to the heart of food and farming. It speaks to the heart of strength and security; which according to our leaders comes from the end of a gun, not from the alimentary canal of an earthworm. Here’s to more healthy worms.

– Joel Salatin, Transition Voice

– See more at: http://transitionvoice.com/2013/08/rural-population-not-needed-for-farming-but-for-cannon-fodder/#sthash.ayiixhIX.dpuf

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MN Jury Convicts Schlangen on 5 Charges–“Our Raw Milk in Jeopardy” Says Lawyer

David Gumpert's picture
by: David Gumpert Thu, 08/15/2013

Despite my disparaging view of the prosecution in the Alvin Schlangen case, the six-person jury had its own view, and it wasn’t the same as mine or others on this blog. After nearly four hours of deliberation on Thursday, it convicted the Minnesota farmer of five criminal misdemeanors.

The counts:
1. Operating without a food handler’s license;
2. Storing eggs at temperatures above the mandated 45 degrees;
3. Distributing adulterated or misbranded food;
4. Violating a food embargo;
5. Selling custom processed meat.

Schlangen was immediately fined $300 and sentenced to 90 days of jail, with the jail sentence stayed. (I erroneously tweeted and put on Facebook the sentencing info without noting the stay of the sentence.)

Most problematic may turn out to be the one year of probation, during which time Schlangen is expected “to comply with all Minnesota food laws, including raw milk laws,” according to his lawyer, Nathan Hansen. “It was interesting that raw milk wasn’t mentioned in any of the charges, and at the end of the day, it was about raw milk.”

“Some of the charges were real hard to counter,” Hansen told me. “And the prosecutor worked very hard to get a conviction.” For example, the prosecution presented evidence Schlangen re-sold food to a food cooperative. Moreover, the prosecution brought in as witnesses the owners or managers of half a dozen other food producers to try to convince the jury that Schlangen was running a commercial operation involving meat, eggs, and other foods.

Hansen is also a member of Schlangen’s food club, and worries most about the strange after-the-trial effort by the judge to include raw milk in the prohibited areas for Schlangen while on probation. “Our supply of raw milk is in jeopardy,” he said.

He feels Schlangen’s food club will need to “narrow its focus” and not make available “foods people can get elsewhere,” like organic frozen veggies. He’s not certain at this point exactly what a new focus and organization might look like.

Why did one jury acquit Schlangen last September on many of the same charges, and this one, in a different county, convict him? We’ll never know for sure, but certainly the prosecution learned from the first Schlangen trial and the Vernon Hershberger trial (and acquittal on similar licensing charges). In addition to the factors Hansen mentioned, I suspect its seemingly random mention of an illness of a food club member–even though it wasn’t connected to Schlangen–had its effect on the “adulterated” charge and on the egg-temperature charge. It may also have colored the jury’s view of Schlangen in general.

So the food police finally got a hit, on an 0-and-2 count. Will they use their new-found lessons of how to persuade a jury to go after additional farmers in other states? Or, to put it another way, now that they at long last tasted blood provided by a jury of a farmer’s peers, will they want more?

An Honest Scientist!

This is heartening. The biggest problem with science in our part of the world is that those paying for the studies are the ones that determine the findings. This man has done an about face on what, in my opinion, is the biggest danger to humanity outside of a nuclear holocaust. Please read this and share.

 

Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered Food

May 6, 2013 by THIERRY VRAIN
I retired 10 years ago after a long career as a research scientist for Agriculture Canada. When I was on the payroll, I was the designated scientist of my institute to address public groups and reassure them that genetically engineered crops and foods were safe. There is, however, a growing body of scientific research – done mostly in Europe, Russia, and other countries – showing that diets containing engineered corn or soya cause serious health problems in laboratory mice and rats

I don’t know if I was passionate about it but I was knowledgeable. I defended the side of technological advance, of science and progress.

I have in the last 10 years changed my position. I started paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe, some from prestigious labs and published in prestigious scientific journals, that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food.

I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat.

There are a number of scientific studies that have been done for Monsanto by universities in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Most of these studies are concerned with the field performance of the engineered crops, and of course they find GMOs safe for the environment and therefore safe to eat.

Individuals should be encouraged to make their decisions on food safety based on scientific evidence and personal choice, not on emotion or the personal opinions of others.
We should all take these studies seriously and demand that government agencies replicate them rather than rely on studies paid for by the biotech companies.

The Bt corn and soya plants that are now everywhere in our environment are registered as insecticides. But are these insecticidal plants regulated and have their proteins been tested for safety? Not by the federal departments in charge of food safety, not in Canada and not in the U.S.

There are no long-term feeding studies performed in these countries to demonstrate the claims that engineered corn and soya are safe. All we have are scientific studies out of Europe and Russia, showing that rats fed engineered food die prematurely.

These studies show that proteins produced by engineered plants are different than what they should be. Inserting a gene in a genome using this technology can and does result in damaged proteins. The scientific literature is full of studies showing that engineered corn and soya contain toxic or allergenic proteins.

Genetic engineering is 40 years old. It is based on the naive understanding of the genome based on the One Gene – one protein hypothesis of 70 years ago, that each gene codes for a single protein. The Human Genome project completed in 2002 showed that this hypothesis is wrong.

The whole paradigm of the genetic engineering technology is based on a misunderstanding. Every scientist now learns that any gene can give more than one protein and that inserting a gene anywhere in a plant eventually creates rogue proteins. Some of these proteins are obviously allergenic or toxic.

I have drafted a reply to Paul Horgen’s letter to the Comox Valley Environmental Council. It is my wish that it goes viral as to educate as many people as possible rapidly. Any and all social media is fine by me. This can also be used as a briefing note for the councilors of AVICC or anywhere else. Thank you for your help. [Original source with replies from Dr. Paul Horgen]

Thierry Vrain
Innisfree Farm

I am turning you towards a recent compilation (June 2012) of over 500 government reports and scientific articles published in peer reviewed Journals, some of them with the highest recognition in the world. Like The Lancet in the medical field, or Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, or Biotechnology, or Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, European Journal of Histochemistry, Journal of Proteome Research, etc … This compilation was made by a genetic engineer in London, and an investigative journalist who summarized the gist of the publications for the lay public.

GMO Myths and Truths – an evidence based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops. A report of 120 pages, it can be downloaded for free from Earth Open Source. “GMO Myths and Truths” disputes the claims of the Biotech industry that GM crops yield better and more nutritious food, that they save on the use of pesticides, have no environmental impact whatsoever and are perfectly safe to eat. Genetic pollution is so prevalent in North and South America where GM crops are grown that the fields of conventional and organic grower are regularly contaminated with engineered pollen and losing certification. The canola and flax export market from Canada to Europe (a few hundreds of millions of dollars) were recently lost because of genetic pollution. Did I mention superweeds, when RoundUp crops pass their genes on to RoundUp Resistant weeds. Apparently over 50% of fields in the USA are now infested and the growers have to go back to use other toxic herbicides such as 2-4 D. Many areas of Ontario and Alberta are also infested. The transgenes are also transferred to soil bacteria. A chinese study published last year shows that an ampicillin resistance transgene was transferred from local engineered crops to soil bacteria, that eventually found their way into the rivers. The transgenes are also transferred to humans. Volunteers who ate engineered soybeans had undigested DNA in their intestine and their bacterial flora was expressing the soybean transgenes in the form of antibiotic resistance. This is genetic pollution to the extreme, particularly when antibiotic resistance is fast becoming a serious global health risk. I can only assume the American Medical Association will soon recognize its poorly informed judgement.

In 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium of GM foods, safety testing and labeling. Their review of the available literature at the time noted that animals show serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system. Monsanto writes “There is no need to test the safety of GM foods”. So long as the engineered protein is safe, foods from GM crops are substantially equivalent and they cannot pose any health risks.” The US Food and Drug Administration waived all levels of safety testing in 1996 before approving the commercialization of these crops. Nothing more than voluntary research is necessary, and the FDA does not even want to see the results. And there is certainly no need to publish any of it. If you remember 1996, the year that the first crops were commercialized, the research scientists of the US FDA all predicted that transgenic crops would have unpredictable hard to detect side effects, allergens, toxins, nutritional effects, new diseases. That was published in 2004 in Biotechnology if you recall seeing it.

I know well that Canada does not perform long term feeding studies as they do in Europe. The only study I am aware of from Canada is from the Sherbrooke Hospital in 2011, when doctors found that 93% of pregnant women and 82% of the fetuses tested had the protein pesticide in their blood. This is a protein recognized in its many forms as mildly to severely allergenic. There is no information on the role played by rogue proteins created by the process of inserting transgenes in the middle of a genome. But there is a lot of long term feeding studies reporting serious health problems in mice and rats. The results of the first long term feeding studies of lab rats reported last year in Food and Chemical Toxicology show that they developed breast cancer in mid life and showed kidney and liver damage. The current statistic I read is that North Americans are eating 193 lbs of GMO food on average annually. That includes the children I assume, not that I would use that as a scare tactic. But obviously I wrote at length because I think there is cause for alarm and it is my duty to educate the public.

One argument I hear repeatedly is that nobody has been sick or died after a meal (or a trillion meals since 1996) of GM food. Nobody gets ill from smoking a pack of cigarette either. But it sure adds up, and we did not know that in the 1950s before we started our wave of epidemics of cancer. Except this time it is not about a bit of smoke, it’s the whole food system that is of concern. The corporate interest must be subordinated to the public interest, and the policy of substantial equivalence must be scrapped as it is clearly untrue.

Thierry Vrain, Former research scientist for Agriculture Canada and now promoting awareness of the dangers of genetically modified foods. (link to article source)

Crimes Against Humanity…and Chickens

I have copied the entire post below from this blog because it is terrifically important that people become aware of type of thing and work to either change these kinds of ridiculous laws in their cities and towns or orchestrate mass civil disobedience to annihilate these acts of State Sponsored Terrorism on Citizens. Please read, share and get involved in your surroundings:

Garden City, MI: Man sentenced to jail time on the CRIMINAL charge of keeping chickens!

Guys, you really can’t make this sort of stuff up.  Randy Zeilinger, a Garden City MI resident, has been found guilty on the CRIMINAL charge of keeping chickens.garden city mi man found guilty on criminal charge of keeping backyard chickens

Think about that for a minute.  A criminal charge follows you for your entire life.  A criminal charge must be reported on job applications. A criminal conviction is reported to state and federal agencies.

The sentence is:

  • 30 days in jail
  • 6 months of reporting to probation
  • $905 in fines
  • Pay for the court appointed attorney
  • Comply with all city ordinances

But the honorable Judge Hammer was “nice” and suspended the jail time. However, if Randy fails on any of the above details he will be thrown in jail. That was clearly stated.

A few days after conviction, Randy began receiving new ordinance violations in the mail. These include a violation for keeping a wild skunk, a vandalized porch and peeling paint on his garage. The Garden City Ordinance Officer has indicated that he will be visiting Randy often and writing violations for anything that he can. Randy will likely face another year of bi-monthly court appearances.

 Synopsis of Randy’s story (full story here):

From Randy: ‘I purchased my home in 2000. I started moving in around March of the same year. I moved my bee hives at the same time and was immediately confronted by a neighbor who called the police.  The attending officer said that bees were OK if I kept them in my own yard. In hind sight, I should have noted the complaint and resulting dialog. However, I thought that I was within my rights based on the Michigan state law, often referred to as the “Right to Farm Act”.  http://legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-Act-93-of-1981.pdf  In fact, I was (am) covered by this law. Over the next ten years or so, this same neighbor lodged numerous complaints against me. City officials recognized that these complaints were baseless in nature and merely a case of “everyone has one of THOSE neighbors”. ‘

*A note on the Michigan Right to Farm Act: it supersedes local city/town ordinances.  While I (Laura) opted to work with my city to have an ordinance included in our muni code allowing for chickens, technically I didn’t need to.  Taken from MRTFA : (6) Beginning June 1, 2000, except as otherwise provided in this section, it is the express legislative intent that this act preempt any local ordinance, regulation, or resolution that purports to extend or revise in any manner the provisions of this act or generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a local unit of government shall not enact, maintain, or enforce an ordinance, regulation, or resolution that conflicts in any manner with this act or generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act. This section affirms your Michigan right to continuation business farming operating within generally accepted agricultural and management practices (GAAMPS) guidelines and supersedes any city laws that may forbid said farming. For your reference, Shelby Township v. Papesh is a similar case and may assist in your legal determinations.

Here’s where things start falling apart for Randy:

  • In 2009 he acquires  some chickens and ducks. After a year of keeping chickens and ducks, he rehomed the ducks after a neighbor complained to him about them.
  • In 2012, the same neighbor that complained about the ducks complained to Randy about the chickens. This neighbor posits that “he never asked her permission to have them (the chickens)”.
  • The neighbor who complained to Randy about his chickens also complained to him about: his koi and frog pond & a tree growing in his front yard.  This neighbor called the city and demanded that they cut down Randy’s tree, which the city refused to do (thankfully).
  • The complaining neighbor, now incensed, files a legal complaint about Randy’s chickens.  The Garden City ordinance officer cites Randy with keeping chickens, despite not seeing any signs of chickens on Randy’s property. The ordinance officer visited Randy’s farm on March 21, 2012.  Several weeks later, Randy received a post card from 21st District Court to appear for a zoning violation dated March 23, 2012.

The ordinance violation was written against a 50 year-old ordinance.

     (A)     No person shall keep or house any animals or fowl within the city except dogs, cats, canaries, or animals commonly classified as pets, customarily kept or housed inside dwellings as household pets.

     (B)     No person shall sell, or offer for sale, barter, or give away baby chicks, rabbits, ducklings, or other fowl as pets or novelties, whether or not dyed, colored, or otherwise artificially treated. This division shall not be construed to prohibit the display or sale of natural chicks or ducklings in proper brooder facilities by hatcheries or stores engaged in the business of selling the same to be raised for commercial purposes.

(Ord. 11-006, passed 4-25-11)

Now, here’s where things get surreal.

  • Mid-April, Randy appears in court before the Honorable Judge Richard L, Hammer, Jr. of the 21st. District Court.  The judge sent Randy back to meet with the city prosecutor, Timothy L. Cronin (P26417).
  • During this meeting, Mr. Cronin said that if Randy wanted a farm then he should move out of the city. When Randy replied that he was unable to move, he said that chickens were not allowed in the city and if Randy pursued the case that he would “make an example” of him. He went on to say that the mayor did not want farm animals in the city and that he took direction from the mayor. He further indicated that Randy was not welcome in this city and he would be foolish to continue the case. At no time did he indicate that a compromise could be reached.
  • Randy appears at city council meetings while his court dates are repeatedly postponed, speaking in favor of allowing backyard chickens in Garden City.  After one meeting, reporter Sue Buck runs a story in the June 24 2012 issue of the Garden City Observer on Randy and 2 others who spoke positively about keeping backyard chickens.  The other 2 individuals cited in the paper received chicken keeping code violation notices in the mail immediately after.
  • Randy’s complaining neighbor vandalizes his property and calls the city to lodge a complaint about it being in disarray.
  • An anonymous call is made complaining about a rooster crowing.  Randy has no rooster.
  • Randy’s complaining neighbor drives to Westland to visit his 80 year old mother, demanding that she force her son to do what they ask (remove chickens, cut down tree, etc).  The woman is fearful and traumatized.
  • By the end of July 2012, the police have been out to Randy’s house a half a dozen times. Each time was a response to an anonymous complaint called in. No charges were leveled.
  • In August 2012, police respond to a complaint about a skunk found in the complaining neighbors yard. Three police officers in two cars responded to the call. They insisted that Randy do something about the skunk in the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor had mentioned that the skunk had come from Randy and that he had sent it to spray them. The armed police officers force Randy from his house to go retrieve a wild skunk- which turned out to be a baby skunk with barely open eyes.  Randy retrieves the skunk from under the neighbors car, receives a ticket for having an unlicensed animal, and is left with the task of getting the baby skunk to a wildlife rehabilitator.armed police force citizen to retrieve skunk after neighbor complained that he had sent it to spray them "attack skunk"

    Skunk cops are on patrol!

In fall 2012 Randy finally gets closer to a court date, is allowed a court appointed attorney. Initially, the court told the defending attorney that the case was about the skunk but in reality, the case was about keeping chickens and the Michigan Right to Farm Act.

  • Randy’s appointed attorney, James M. Jernigan (P-57035) took the case even though he was somewhat skeptical at first. Randy explained the RTFA and how it applied to his case. Randy explained the GAAMPs, the history of the law and cited other cases that had been tried and eventually reached the Michigan Court of Appeals.
  • Randy’s case is repeatedly delayed due in part to another chicken keeper case being tried in the 21st District Court. That case was actually moved to the city of Wayne and presided by city of Wayne Judge Laura R. Mack, because Judge Hammer was recused.  That case is City of Garden City v. Pete Santeiu (Case No, 12 GC 1547 OM).  That case was dismissed by Judge Mack. Signed and dated: January 7, 2013.
  • In February 2013, the Garden City prosecution amended Randy’s case to be a criminal complaint rather than the original animal ordinance violation.
  • Randy’s jury trial is set for April 11 & 12th 2013.
  • Several points of law were disallowed based on the fact that this was a criminal charge and not merely a zoning violation. Case law, Court of Appeals decisions and opinions were discounted. The ruling of Judge Mack (representing the same court, and for the same sort of case) was disallowed.
  • Several individuals came to testify for Randy’s defense, stating he was a good neighbor and that the chickens were not a nuisance in any way.
  • Prosecution presented documents (not entered into evidence) that challenged Randy’s claim of GAAMP compliance. In a nutshell, it was argued that by Randy exceeding the GAAMP protocols, he was not “following” the GAAMPs. Thus if he wasn’t following GAAMPs then he was not compliant and not protected by MRTFA.

This case is disturbing on so many levels.  If you’d like to read about it in Randy’s own words, click here.

I urge you all to share this far and wide- it’s gotten NO media attention here in Michigan, and likely won’t without a grassroots effort.  Also, if you’d like to share your thoughts on this situation, please direct them to the Garden City mayor and councilmembers, as well as the senatorial representatives.  Follow us on Facebook for updates on Randy’s story as it continues to unfold.

UPDATES:

Randy was interviewed on Fox 2 Detroit.  His neighbor chimed in as well, and showed just the sort of behavior you’d never want to see from a neighbor, even if you didn’t have chickens.

Truth IS Stranger Than Fiction…..Again

Ok, so they kill the bees, buy the leading research group that is determining the cause of death of the bees, and now, Harvard is making robotic bees to replace the real thing. Sheesh. I don’t think robotic honey is going to happen though.

Robotic Bees to Pollinate Monsanto Crops

8APR

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! NewswireScreenshot_1

Pollinators participate in the sexual-reproduction of plants. When you eat an almond, beet, watermelon or sip on coffee, you’re partaking of an ancient relationship between pollinators and flowers. But since the 1990s, worldwide bee health has been in decline and most evidence points to toxic pesticides created by Shell and Bayer and the loss of genetic biodiversity due to the proliferation of GMO monocrops created in laboratories by biotech companies like Monsanto.

But never worry, those real life pollinators—the birds and the bees, as they say—may soon be irrelevant to the food needs of civilization. Harvard roboticists are developing a solution to the crisis: swarms of tiny robot bees made of titanium and plastic that can pollinate those vast dystopian fields of GMO cash crops.

The Harvard Microrobotics Lab has been working on its Micro Air Vehicles Project since early 2009. Borrowing from the biomechanics and social organization of bees, the team of researchers is undergoing the creation of tiny winged robots to fly from flower to flower, immune to the toxins dripping from petals, to spread pollen. They even believe that they will soon be able to program the robobees to live in an artificial hive, coordinate algorithms and communicate amongst themselves about methods of pollination and location of particular crops.

Of course, published reports from the lab also describe potential military uses—surveillance and mapping—but the dime-sized cyber-bees have yet to be outfitted with neurotoxin tipped stingers.

Transparency on Proposed Constitutional Amendment HJR 11 and 7 in Missouri

Here is the chronological order of the conversation between Jason Smith, Republican for US Congress and current State Rep and Speaker Pro Tem in the Missouri House, and myself regarding HJR 11 and 7, the proposed Missouri Constitutional Amendment to “protect” agriculture.

This is transparency, folks. This issue will affect every single person who eats in this State, and it is entirely too important for both urban and rural Citizens to understand what is happening with this proposal.

I received a return phone call from Chief of Staff Ryan Hart after nearly two weeks awaiting a response from Smith’s office on concerns with this legislation. He sent me an attachment of the perfected bill on March 13th:

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring therein:

            That at the next general election to be held in the state of Missouri, on Tuesday next following the first Monday in November, 2014, or at a special election to be called by the governor for that purpose, there is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state, for adoption or rejection, the following amendment to article I of the Constitution of the state of Missouri:

            Section A. Article I, Constitution of Missouri, is amended by adding one new section, to be known as section 35, to read as follows:

            Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No state law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and modern and traditional livestock production and ranching practices, unless enacted by the General Assembly.

            Section B. Pursuant to Chapter 116, RSMo, and other applicable constitutional provisions and laws of this state allowing the General Assembly to adopt ballot language for the submission of a joint resolution to the voters of this state, the official ballot title of the amendment proposed in Section A shall be as follows:

            “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:

            •          That the right of Missouri citizens to employ modern farming and ranching practices and equipment shall not be infringed”.

and I responded on March 14th:

Hello Ryan,

 Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. Kidding season has a way of making things crazy around here!

 I understand that the desire is to make things better and to ensure that agriculture remains viable in Missouri. To truly ensure viability, we must stop the continued contraction of agricultural market access, and the ability of farmers to profit from their labor must be secured. There are several studies on consolidation that have been done Hendricks and Heffernan from Missouri U. It truly crosses all sectors of agriculture, both crops and animal agriculture. As it stands, the language in HJR 7 and 11 wouldn’t address that at all, and, unfortunately, would lead to further the spread of patented life forms, both animal and plant that will do even more damage to independent agriculture.

 Below is a proposal that would truly enhance the viability of Missouri agriculture and increase the economic freedom in rural areas and therefore help local economies to prosper and not ship their money straight out of the community to China via Walmart. Please let me know your thoughts on this. As I said, I have spoken with several property rights, agriculture, and economic freedom advocates, and a few legislators about this and rec’d very positive feedback.

 Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in direct trade with consumers [modern farming and ranching practices] shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural [technology and modern livestock production and ranching]practices that secure independent family farm’s ability to save seed, preserve livestock bloodlines, or impede their access to market.

Section B. Pursuant to Chapter 116, RSMo, and other applicable constitutional provisions and laws of this state allowing the General Assembly to adopt ballot language for the 3 submission of a joint resolution to the voters of this state, the official ballot title of the amendment proposed in Section A shall be as follows: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure: 

• That the right of Missouri citizens to employ modern farming and ranching practices and equipment that insure the continuance of diversified small farms shall not be infringed”.

 Thank you!

 Doreen Hannes

Then, on March 25th, Jason Smith responded to my March 14th email:

Dear Ms. Hannes,

Thank you for your email expressing your concern and taking the time to break down the bill, it is great to hear from such an informed citizen. HJR’s 11 and 7 are meant to protect agriculture in all forms, whether it is a small organic family farm or a large operation. The main goal of these resolutions is to make sure that our state’s largely diversified agriculture industry is protected from out-of-state interest groups that attempt to cause nothing but burden and harm.

The resolutions have also been amended to give more power to the county government. I am a firm believer in smaller government and have always found that the best solutions to a problem come from someone close to the problem. The following amendment was offered by Representative Reiboldt during the perfection of the bill. The amendment changed lines four through seven to read as follows.

No state law shall

5 be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural

6 technology and modern and traditional livestock production and ranching practices, unless

7 enacted by the General Assembly.”

These changes in this amendment take the power for the state government to place restrictions on agriculture and give that authority to the counties. This allows farmers to be able to talk to their county commissioners instead of 163 representatives from all corners of the state of Missouri.

I would also like to point out that in line six; the resolutions provide protection for “modern and traditional” practices. This will protect your right, as a small family farmer, to always be able to use the practices that you prefer on your own operation.

I hope that this answers all of your questions and addresses your concerns. If you have any more questions about HJR’s 11 and 7, or Representative Reibolt’s amendment, please feel free to email them to me. I always enjoy hearing from and helping my constituents.

Sincerely, 

Jason Smith

Speaker Pro Tem

And, since I was busy and honestly rather angered by the response, I waited to respond until I wasn’t caught up in the moment as it were and responded this morning, March 28th….

Dear Jason,

 I was aware of the amendment and the perfected language, and to be completely honest with you, it cannot possibly do what you claim it will do. I’ll explain why I see it as I do.

 First of all, a Constitutional Amendment should be an inviolable right. To claim that no “state law” shall be enacted which infringes upon this “right” “unless” it is enacted by the General Assembly, seems an insult to the intelligence of the citizens of the state. ALL state law is enacted by the General Assembly. 

 Also, the County Commissioners don’t actually have the authority to enact “law” within the county. They can do resolutions, and approve of initiatives and go against initiatives, approve or disapprove planning and zoning issues, but they are largely involved with managing the infrastructure and financing of the county’s needs and overseeing the administration of the county. But they cannot make “law” with criminal repercussions for the violation of any law they pass. 

 Should this pass as a Constitutional amendment, the County that would constrain an aspect addressed in this Amendment would be in violation of the Missouri Constitution, and they would therefore be sued by an aggrieved party for violating the “rights” of a party interested in asserting their right to use “agricultural technology” within the confines of a County that was opposed to a particular technology.

 If you want to help farmers and ranchers to actually profit from their labor and remain viable, the way to truly help them is to cut the red tape between farmers and their consumers. There are plenty of studies that illustrate how destructive vertical integration and corporate farms are to both communities and independent agriculture. 

 If the verbiage you currently have as perfected language is what you are comfortable with and believe will meet your desired goals, then I must go completely against it and activate people against the language and against any progression of this proposal. The very last thing that we, as citizens of Missouri need, is to bless the biotech industries and corporate factory farms with the right to further consolidate. 

 I’d hoped that there was a chance to work with you to change the language from protecting the biotech industry which is deeply destructive to both consumers and farmers, but that doesn’t appear to be possible. 

 Thank you,

Doreen Hannes 

Need Another Reason to Buy Beef From a Local Farmer?

How about a year long investigation by reporters from the Kansas City Star that shows solidly how fast paced factory processing and meat additives greatly increase e-coli O157-H7? You know, the stuff that puts too many into the hospital, destroys their quality of life and kills those with compromised immune systems.

Seriously folks, seek out a cattle grower and get your beef processed at a local butcher shop. It will increase your health, strengthen the family farms, lower consolidation and keep your local economy moving better than Obamacare will.

Please read the article below, and then if you feel comfortable with the beef from the box store, let me know:

                                                                                      Beef’s Raw Edges

by Mike McGraw for the Kansas City Star

Your choice...Grass Fed Happy Beef? Or, if you prefer......

Your choice…Grass Fed Happy Beef? Or, if you prefer……

Margaret Lamkin doesn’t visit her grandchildren much anymore. She never flies. She avoids wearing dresses. And she worries about infections and odors.

Three years ago, at age 87, Lamkin was forced to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life after a virulent meat-borne pathogen destroyed her colon and nearly killed her.

What made her so sick? A medium-rare steak she ate nine days earlier at an Applebee’s restaurant.

Lamkin, like most consumers today, didn’t know she had ordered a steak that had been run through a mechanical tenderizer. In a lawsuit, Lamkin said her steak came from National Steak Processors Inc., which claimed it got the contaminated meat from a U.S. plant run by Brazilian-based JBS — the biggest beef packer in the world.

“You trust people, trust that nothing is going to happen,” Lamkin said, “but they (beef companies) are mass-producing this and shoveling it into us.”

The Kansas City Star investigated what the industry calls “bladed” or “needled” beef, and found the process exposes Americans to a higher risk of E. coli poisoning than cuts of meat that have not been tenderized.

The process has been around for decades, but while exact figures are difficult to come by, a 2008 USDA survey showed that more than 90 percent of beef producers are using it on some cuts.

Mechanically tenderized meat — which usually isn’t labeled — is increasingly found in grocery stores, and a vast amount is sold to family-style restaurants, hotels and group homes. In many cases, grocery stores don’t even know the meat has been tenderized.

Cowschwitz?

Cowschwitz?

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/06/v-project_one/3951690/beefs-raw-edges.html#storylink=cpy

Better Not Get Caught With Your Pantry Down

This year has been an amazingly stressful one on all levels of agriculture. The other day I was looking into stats, and according to the USDA, a whopping 4/10ths of 1 % of the population gets the vast majority of their food directly from the farmer. Now, USDA statistics and their reliability aside, it is obvious to anyone who looks that not very many Americans are engaged in direct trade with their farmers for any significant amount of their food purchases. Since that is the way it is, whether I like it or not, the effects on our ability to simply feed our families anything remotely decent is going to be heavily impacted by the dismal corn, soy and wheat harvests….and the winter wheat planting.

Funny enough, the USDA says that we only lost about 13% of the corn crop. Never mind that farmers report more like 40%. And the EPA kept their mandate to require 37% of the corn harvest be used to make ethanol to put in our cars so they don’t run very well. Since I could go on for hours about the corn controls and foolishness, I will just stop now and ask that you read the following article and decide for yourself if there is any chance that the “abundance” we are so accustomed to in this country may not go on into perpetuity.

Driest six months since 1895 damaging wheat in Great Plains

Oklahoma is among states that recorded their driest May-to-October period in at least 118 years.  STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

Oklahoma is among states that recorded their driest May-to-October period in at least 118 years. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file
 By JEFF WILSON Bloomberg News

Published: 11/28/2012  1:55 AM
Last Modified: 11/28/2012  4:09 AM

The states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska had their driest May-to-October period in at least 118 years, increasing stress on winter-wheat crops planted during the last two months, according to T-Storm Weather LLC.

Rainfall in the three states, which produced 59 percent of U.S. hard, red winter wheat last year, was 8.6 inches below the average since records began in 1895, Mike Tannura, T-Storm’s president, said in the report Tuesday. That’s worse than the dry spells in 1952, 1956, 1934 and 1939.

The six months ending Nov. 30 also are set to be the driest for that period, and the drought probably will expand, Tannura said.

Wheat futures in Chicago have surged 51 percent in the past year as the worst U.S. drought since 1956 damaged crops and eroded soil moisture. The condition of the winter-wheat crop, which goes dormant in the coldest months and then resumes growth in March or April, is the worst since at least 1985, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday.

“A lot of fields are partially emerged, and even if we got rain right now we would be lucky to get half a crop,” Jeff Edwards, an agronomist at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, said in an interview Monday. “A lot of farmers are comparing this drought to the 1950s. It looks rough.”

As of Nov. 25, 33 percent of the winter wheat was in good or excellent condition, down from 34 percent last week and 52 percent a year earlier, USDA data show. About 26 percent was in poor or very poor condition, compared with 13 percent a year earlier.

Plant emergence in the 18 top-producing states was 88 percent, compared with 91 percent a year earlier.

About 56 percent of the six High Plains states from Kansas to North Dakota was in extreme or exceptional drought as of Nov. 20, up from 6.3 percent a year earlier, government data show. In addition, weather damage led to smaller harvests in Russia, Ukraine, Australia and Europe, reducing global production by 6.4 percent this year to a five-year year low.

Wheat is the fourth-largest U.S. crop, valued at $14.4 billion in 2011 behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.

You Will Eat What We Say You Will Eat…And you will enjoy it

This is the wave of the future, folks. You won’t be able to get food without receiving permission and farmers won’t grow it without being licensed, certified, audited and inspected. The FDA says we have no right to any particular food for ourselves or our children, that we have no right to bodily or physical health through our food choices, and that we have no right to contract. They also say that they are carrying out their public health mission within those assertions. This article  shows the state equivalent of the FDA at work in Wisconsin.

FTCLDF has screwed up a number of cases…and there are serious concerns on my part about many of their methods– but Pete Kennedy has been true, and the following article is written by him.

From the Socialist Democratic Republic of Wisconsin:

Wisconsin: DATCP Raids Hershberger Farm
BY PETE KENNEDY, ESQ.  | JUNE 8, 2010

The morning of June 2, 2010 started out like most other busy days on the farm of Vernon & Erma Hershberger and their family of eight boys and one girl, ranging in age from 18 down to 2 years. Shortly before 10:00 a.m., Vernon went to pick up some equipment from a neighboring farm.  Immediately after he left, Cathleen Anderson, Regulatory Specialist from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) along with Sauk County Health Department Sanitarians, Nick Oasen and Mitch Lohr, arrived and entered the farm store building, paying no heed to “Private Property” signs posted on the building.  Erma immediately called Vernon on his cell phone; and she asked the officials to wait for him outside the building, which they did, stepping out into the parking lot.

Vernon refused consent even after they threatened to get a warrant, explaining to the officials that they had no jurisdiction to inspect his farm because he had not applied for a license and he was not selling to the public but merely distri-buting products to members of his private buying club.

Upon arriving at the scene, Vernon was asked by Anderson for his consent to let them do an inspection of his private facility.  Vernon refused consent even after they threatened to get a warrant, explaining to the officials that they had no jurisdiction to inspect his farm because he had not applied for a license and he was not selling to the public but merely distributing products to members of his private buying club.

At 11:45a.m. Jacqueline Owens, Field Service Director from DATCP, showed up with a warrant along with four or five deputies from the local Sherriff’s Department.  Anderson handed Vernon the warrant; Vernon requested a few minutes to look it over which they granted, but when he asked them to wait until he had called his attorney they refused saying that the warrant was valid and they would wait no longer. They then entered the farm store building.

They began the inspection in the storage freezers in what is call the “processing room” and took
inventory of all the items that were in the freezers, also making notes about labels and temperatures.  They did a total inspection of the building including the restroom facilities, the lighting, and anything else that they would typically inspect in a licensed facility.  After they were done in the processing room they went into the grocery storage room and then into the culturing room, taking a basic inventory of everything that was on the shelves. They then moved on into the walk-in cooler.

In the cooler, they wrote down every individual item name and lot number and any other information that they could find.  Next, they went into the store area where there were two chest freezers, a three-glass-door display freezer and approximately twenty feet of shelving.  After they had gone through the whole store, Oasen commented on the cleanliness of the building and processing equipment along with the overall appearance of the facility.

Vernon said he was shocked!  He had dealt with ‘cease and desist’ letters and even went through a long, drawn out lawsuit but nothing quite like this.

Anderson and Owens took a total of twelve samples of various products;  Vernon took a similar sample of each item.  When the sampling was done, Owens said, “Now comes the hard part.”  Owens went on to advise Vernon that they were going to tape shut all the chest freezers and put tags on the doors of the other coolers and freezers and that he would not be allowed to take anything off the shelves without  written approval from DATCP.  She told him the tags would be good for 14 days;  if things were not worked out between DATCP and the farm, the agency could extend them for another 14 days.  She ended saying that they would leave him some food for his family to eat but that everything else must stay intact on the shelves as it was then.

Vernon said he was shocked!  He had dealt with ‘cease and desist’ letters and even went through a long, drawn out lawsuit but nothing quite like this.  His head was going in circles:  How to make the mortgage payments? Would the inventory be left on the shelves to rot?

As all these things were going around in my head, I thought to myself:  As we head into the future we do not know what it holds but we know Who holds it and that’s what counts.

Just as if all that wasn’t enough, after the officials were done with the taping and sealing they headed for the milkhouse.   After taking samples, they gave Vernon a paper demanding that the milk in the bulk tank must be disposed of by dumping it out onto the fields.  In order to make sure that the milk could not even be used by Vernon’s family, they opened the lid and dumped in a large glop of blue dye.  By the time the officials left it was 5:00 p.m.

After the day’s chores were done, Vernon said, “I sat down and went into our business email and WOW!!  Fifty new messages–how’s that for some support?”  He then called the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to ask a few questions.   He also talked with David Gumpert and then Ted Beals on some sample testing issues.  After looking over the emails, he tried to  get some sleep; it was close to 11:00 p.m.

In Vernon’s words:
Coming from an Amish background, we had been taught the biblical principles of non-resistance and loving and praying for our enemies and those who persecute us.  I slept only a few hours and meditated a long time, seeking the Lord and His will in these troubling circumstances.  What would Jesus do?  Bible passages like: “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake”. (Matt. 5:11)  “But I say unto you, ‘Love your enemies, Bless them that curse you, do good to them which hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you’.” (Matt. 5:44)  Also Psalms 37 has promises that we can claim for our own if we trust in him.

There is another phrase that is very powerful that I strongly believe in:  There’s no greater love that a man can have than to lay down his life for his friend.  If we become so passionate about something that we are willing to lay down our lives for it, there is a power that kicks in, which is beyond measure.  As all these things were going around in my head,  I thought to myself:  As we head into the future we do not know what it holds but we know Who holds it and that’s what counts.

Update
On June 8, Owens and Anderson returned to the farm without a warrant, attempting to conduct another inspection.  Vernon refused the request for inspection and the officials left his premises.  Before they left, they served Vernon a ‘Summary Special Order’ which would subject him to fines of up to $5,000 per violation if he is not in compliance with Wisconsin food and dairy law.

Patricia Barrett, Esq.
Sauk County District Attorney
Sauk County Court House
515 Oak Street
Baraboo, WI  53913Fax (608)355-3282

patricia.barrett@da.wi.gov

How You Can Help
DATCP has referred Vernon’s case to the Sauk County District Attorney, Patricia Barrett, for potential prosecution.  Everyone is urged to contact Barrett’s office and request that she not prosecute the Hershberger case.  Sauk County residents are especially encouraged to contact the District Attorney and inform her that you will not vote for her the next election if she pursues the Hershberger case.  The District Attorney has already taken so many calls on this case that they are no longer accepting them; but you can still contact the DA’s office by email, fax and/or postal mail.  Here is the contact information:

Here are some points to make:

  1. The County DA should not be spending taxpayer money, pursuing cases like this in which there is no victim or injury.  There has been no complaint filed by anyone against the Hershbergers.
  2. The only injury in a case like this occurs when the farmer or food distributor is prosecuted and consumers who were obtaining foods they deem best for their health and the health of their families have now lost their source of those foods.
  3. The right of consumers to obtain the foods of their choice from the source of their choice is a political issue; cases like this in which there has been no injury do not belong in the courts.  The County DA should exercise her discretion not to take on these cases.
  4. With the tough economic times and all the cutbacks in government spending, the County DA should not be using its remaining enforcement dollars pursuing victimless crimes.
  5. Let the County DA know how food direct from farms has benefitted your health and the health of your family.

DATCP does not respect freedom of food choice nor the right to be left alone.  The agency’s enforcement actions do not protect the public health; they only deny individuals the right to obtain the foods they believe best for their health and the health of their families.

Please help Vernon and Erma Hershberger.

2009: A Near Catastrophic Year For Dairy Farmers

People, we have GOT to realize that our ability to provide food for ourselves is actually a national security issue. Please read this article below which only touches on the issue of the WTO in destroying our ability feed our own population….Let me know what you think. Sometimes it feels like I am speaking into a black hole and things are not resonating with my fellow countrymen.

River Reporter

Farms are closing at an alarming rate

By TOM KANE

REGION & NATION — Things couldn’t be much worse than the way the dairy farmers are rewarded or, more accurately, not rewarded, for the quality and quantity of the milk that America ’s dairy farms produce.

And it’s not because they haven’t been articulate about what is needed: a real connection between the dairy farmers’ cost of production and the price they get for their milk.

The federal government and the dairy cooperatives, called coops, have failed dairy farmers who have been falling by the wayside this year and for the last 10 years. Dairy farms have been disappearing at an alarming rate and nothing is being done to staunch the extinction.

Two senators from Pennsylvania , Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, are working hard to solve this. They have created legislation, called the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2009 – S-1645, and farm organizations across the Northeast and farmers in other milk-producing states are getting local, state and federal elected officials to urge its passage.

“Support for these resolutions by local government officials highlights their understanding of the severe damage being inflicted on their communities by the on-going dairy farm economic crisis,” said Arden Tewksbury of the Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag).

Pro Ag, the National Family Farm Coalition, the National Farmers Union, National Farmers Organization, the American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association, Family Farm Defenders and many other farming organizations are supporting what is being called the Specter-Casey Bill.

One of the problems that passing such a bill will face is what is called the “global trade mentality” that is prevalent among legislators and business people. Under global trade agreements, it is easier to bring in products that can hurt American industries, in this instance, milk producers and distributors. “Without fair raw milk prices that can’t be undercut by the global trade movement, local dairy farmers will not survive,” Tewksbury said. “The once vibrant rural communities will continue to collapse and consumers will not have access to fresh, local milk and dairy products.”

Recently, New York State Senator John Bonacic urged dairy farmers to storm Albany in order to resolve the plight of New York dairy farmers. “Governor Patterson ignored my plea to use the Obama stimulus money to help solve the inequities that exist in New York State ,” he said. “If the legislators won’t come to you, then bring the message to them. Go to Albany in numbers and make them listen.”

Subsequent to Bonacic’s suggestion, dairy farmers traveled to Albany but had little effect on any action by the state.

Recently, the Congress passed a stop-gap measure with legislation that will pump $300 million into the dairy industry to relieve farmers. This one-time payment, as welcome as it is, will not change the convoluted process used by the feds and the dairy coops to set the price of milk, some of which date back to the Great Depression and even further.

Dairy farmers generally are disappointed with the coops that are not helping farmers get the best milk price. Many say that the coops, even though dairy farmers are on their boards, are in the business to maximize their profits, largely ignoring the plight of the dairy producers.

Local dairy farmer Brian Smith, who is also the chairman of the Wayne County Commissioners, won a seat on the board of the local Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) board—the regional coop—when he campaigned on the poor job the coops are doing for the dairy farmers.

One of Smith’s main concerns is that dairy farmers cannot compete on the world market because of the cheap milk products that are available in foreign markets. He says the coops promote the importing of milk products, despite what it is doing to the poor price dairy farmers are getting today.

“I dispute the word promote,” said Monica Massey, DFA vice president of corporate communications. “We have to operate in a global dairy environment. That’s the reality. There are no fences around our country. If we want to export milk products, and we do, then we need to be prepared to accept imports. It is our aim to minimize imports. We export 10 to one. We exported 1.2 million pounds of milk last year and imported one million pounds. We can not limit imports unreasonably. The World Trade Organization (WTO) says we have to do this.”

Dairy farmers say that the coops are not the only organizations that are dragging their feet on the issue of a fair price to farmers for their milk. Other companies in the dairy business as well are not doing all they can and are only interested in maximizing their profits, dairymen say. They mention companies like Dean Foods, the largest distributor of milk and other foods in the nation, and Land O’Lakes, another large distributor of milk products.

According to figures released by the Federal Election Commission, these companies were among the top contributors to federal candidates’ election campaigns in both parties. Dean Foods donated $378,000 to both party candidates, DFA donated $164,900 and Land O’Lakes donated $113,050. The contributions did not come directly from the companies but from their political action committees. Dairy farmers are claiming that these companies have the ear of Congress members who are loath to pass legislation that will hurt the companies’ bottom lines.

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