Raw Milk is Not Local Food???

A few years ago, the State of Maine passed several local food freedom ordinances and I was very excited by their success and commitment. Although there was a little problem with their ordinances, they were mostly very positive, and with Maine’s “home rule” authority, it looked like there might be hope in this type of action. First of all, it was local, and local seems to be one type of politics we can actually have a positive effect on. Well guess what? Apparently even if we get our freedom to choose our own food into statute or ordinance, it’s irrelevant to the the courts and the federally controlled State governments.

In Maine, the State went after a giant dairy farmer, Dan Brown, who milked one or two cows and sold his milk locally. Here’s the outcome from Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

Dan Brown Hearing in Maine Food Sovereignty Case: Judge Finds Raw Milk Not a ‘Local Food’

by admin on May 7, 2013

This is a rewrite of the April 30th original and the May 4th revision. More about the Case

DBrown--IMG_3920In an incredible decision rendered on May 1st, the Hancock County Superior Court ruled against farmer Dan Brown on his motion for summary judgment. The Court instead granted summary judgment in favor of the State of Maine and issued an injunction enjoining Mr. Brown from selling raw milk and other food products from his farm stand.

The State had alleged that Dan was (1) selling raw milk without being in possession of a milk distributor’s license, (2) selling raw milk without having the necessary warning label, and (3) selling other foods prepared in his home kitchen without being in possession of a retail food license. Dan had argued that for over 30 years the Department of Agriculture had a policy of allowing small, unlicensed milk producers like him sell raw milk from their farm as long as they did not advertise or solicit the sale. He also argued that the Town of Blue Hill, Maine’s local ordinance exempted him from licensing requirements. Dan was represented by General Counsel Gary Cox and his Ellsworth, Maine co-counsel Sandy Collier who argued the case on his behalf.

Blue Hill’s local ordinance provides, in part, that local food produced by a farmer and sold to a consumer for home consumption need not be licensed or inspected. The Court, however, concluded that “nothing in the Blue Hill ordinance clearly states that the town intended to include milk within the definition of local food.” What’s clear is that the judge disregarded the definitions section of the Blue Hill Ordinance:

(c) “Local Foods ” means any food or food product that is grown, produced, or processed by individuals who sell directly to their patrons through farm-based sales or buying clubs, at farmers markets, roadside stands, fundraisers or at community social events.

(d) “Processor ” means any individual who processes or prepares products of the soil or animals for food or drink.

(e) “Producer ” means any farmer or gardener who grows any plant or animalfor food or drink.

DBrown--IMG_3929_2
FTCLDF member Dan Brown flanked by Attorneys
Gary Cox and Sandy Collier

Dan’s case has been described as a test case in Maine, a state where several local food sovereignty ordinances have been passed in an effort to allow local control over the production, distribution and consumption of local foods. Unfortunately, the Court’s ruling is another example of why the public citizenry loses faith in government when it cannot obtain redress from the judicial system and why more farmers and consumers are resorting to civil disobedience as a means of asserting their rights.

A penalty hearing has been set for May 16th at 9:00 am. At that time the court will determine the appropriate amount of civil penalty to be imposed for the violations alleged in the State’s complaint.

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Now, This Would Be A Good Constitutional Amendment for Missouri

Recently, I wrote about Jason Smith’s HJR 7 and 11,which is a proposed Constitutional Amendment for the State of Missouri. By the way, Jason is the Pro Tem in the Missouri House and the Republican nominee to fill Joann Emerson’s seat in the US Congress. It is widely rumored that Smith was flown to Washington four times to be introduced to his future colleagues by Emerson. It is possibly coincidence one of Emerson’s daughters is a lobbyist for Monsanto and that Smith introduced this bill, which would strongly enhance Monsanto’s stranglehold on Agriculture in this State. Possibly. I just don’t know. It’s one of those thing that makes you go, “Hmmm…”, as that old adage goes.

What isn’t questionable is that HJR 7 and 11 and SJR 22 (it’s companion) are flying through the process at Jeff City quicker than a greased pig. And is NOT good for Missouri farmers, Missouri consumers, or economic freedom overall. Please read my first article on this legislation here to get some background on why I see this as terrifically dangerous and deceptive as I do.

An interesting thing about Missouri is the many options available for changing/amending the Missouri Constitution. Battles in ballot language are often fought in the back rooms of the State Offices and voters must go to extensive lengths to find out the full text of the actual proposal on the ballot. When people are voting on a Constitutional Amendment, they should not only be allowed easy access to the language, they should read it and be certain they understand the effects of the proposed amendment. We want the legislators to “read the bills”, why would we be satisfied with out own decisions on issues if we ourselves don’t read the actual text?

After two calls and a facebook message to Rep. Smith, I finally received a return call from Smith’s office, but I was outside dealing in the real world at the time.  I called back and left another message, but haven’t yet heard back from the staffer that left a message on my machine. Sigh.

Since this thing is moving so quickly, and the questionable terms “modern” and “agricultural technology” show no signs of being removed from the language, it seems that the public should have the opportunity to look at potential substitute language that would actually be beneficial for farmers, ranchers and consumers as well as the Missouri economy.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at the language and thinking it was completely hopeless. Then it clicked. A light came on and I found language that I have shared with a few traditional farming advocates and some other concerned groups and they all said they would definitely support this language.

For your consideration and comments, I submit a truly helpful and freedom enhancing substitute for Smith’s HJR 7 & 11: (the things in brackets and struck through are removed from the language of Smith’s bill-the bold italicized is inserted instead)

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”.

So what do you think? Is it too radical to think that people should have the ability to purchase their food from sources that they want? Do corporations and governments acting in the best interests of those corporations increase our freedom and improve our general health? In short, are people too stupid to decide what they want to eat?

 A  personal note for my friends and readers:

Put this in the whining column, my computer died on me. I amattempting to deal with my husband’s dinosaur that -for no apparent reason- decides to take you to links on pages of articles without clicking on them, starts to type in the middle of preceding paragraphs at will, and will only run one program at a time. I am waiting for a new hard drive, while praying that it isn’t the logic board on my computer that is fried. I have ten years of research in Mac format backed up, but when these Macs decide to quit on you, it is rather expensive to fix them and sometimes downright impossible to get funds together to do do it. Grrr. So if you ever wanted to donate anything to help me keep the alligators at bay, now would be a great time!

Fines of $500 per Day for Garden

The issue brought forth in the following article is becoming entirely too commonplace. What better way to destroy a nation than to prevent the people from being able to feed themselves without governmental permission?

ORLANDO, Fla. –

A College Park couple’s vegetable garden is on the chopping block again after the city threatened fines if they don’t uproot it by Thursday, according to the Institute for Justice Florida Chapter.

Jason and Jennifer Helvenston are launching “Plant a Seed, Change the Law,” a protest of Orlando’s law, which they say violates their constitutional right to peacefully use their property to grow their own food.

In November, Local 6 broke the story about the controversial garden after the city told the Helvenstons their 25-by-25-foot front yard vegetable garden was not in compliance with the city’s code. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdnf8j8NZ9E

After hundreds of emails supporting the couple flowed in and initially allowing the Helvenstons to keep their garden, saying it will hold off on violations, the city has since asked the couple to uproot the garden and replace it with a lawn or face fines.

“The greatest freedom you can give someone is the freedom to know they will not go hungry,” said Jason Helvenston. “Our Patriot Garden pays for all of its costs in healthy food and lifestyle while having the lowest possible carbon footprint. It supplies valuable food while being attractive. I really do not understand why there is even a discussion. They will take our house before they take our Patriot Garden.”

According to Ari Bargil, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, the Helvenstons have a scheduled inspection and will be fined starting on Thursday, up to $500 a day….(Read the full story and see more links here)

Evidently, the public pressure was sufficient and the City backed down a bit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyn7URfKCXM

Video