Teaching of a Different Sort: “Rights Workshop” to Advise Farmers, Food Clubs, on Countering Government Attacks; A Farm Family’s Fundraiser

Farmers and food club managers who come under attack by government enforcers are often at a loss about what to do next.

Will they invite government retribution if they try to publicize what has happened?

What do they tell food club members?

Should they hire a lawyer or represent themselves?

Should they comply with what the regulators are demanding, or resist?

What protections do they have under the law, and under the U.S. Constitution?  

Constitutional expert Michael Badnarik, who will be speaking at the special Rights Workshop in Wisconsin March 1. To begin to answer those and other similar questions, a first-ever “Rights Workshop” is being held next week, March 1, from 2-5:30 in Wisconsin. The workshop is in preparation for a rally the next day, March 2, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in support of dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger, who has a court hearing that day.

Workshop presenters include constitutional expert Michael Badnarik (“Defiance is the Key to Freedom”), Canadian dairy farmer and activist Michael Schmidt (“Lawyer or No Lawyer?”), Wisconsin activist Mel Olsen (“Being an Activist Mom”), Kentucky food club organizer John Moody (“Generating Grass Roots Support When Facing Health Department or Other Enforcement Actions”), national activist Liz Reitzig (“History of Social Change Through Peaceful Noncompliance”), Wisconsin activist Max Kane (“Taking Responsibility for Your Freedom”), and yours truly (“Let the World Know About Your Confrontation–Publicizing Government Infringements”).

The suggested donation is $20, and dinner will be served after the sessions. Spaces are limited–to RSVP, email rawmilkfreedomriders@gmail.com.

A Florida bio-dynamic farmer who was a long-time contributor to this blog died tragically two weeks, and friends are in the closing days of a fundraising effort on behalf of his family.

The farmer, Ed Sherwood, died in an auto accident. I truly wish I could say more about his blog identity here. He was an astute, if often acerbic commenter, and his family has requested I not reveal his blog pseudonym; they are fearful the farm could be a target of government retribution.

According to the fund-raising site, Sherwood’s farm “is really like a piece of heaven. Their cows are treated with love and respect and their garden overflows with a bounty of beautiful veggies. All of this took a lot of work from Ed. He faithfully milked the family cows twice a day, every day. He tended the garden and kept the 100-year-old farmhouse in repair. He took their vegetables – both fresh and cultured – to market every week.”

The fund-raising campaign ends tomorrow. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

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13 Comments on "Teaching of a Different Sort: “Rights Workshop” to Advise Farmers, Food Clubs, on Countering Government Attacks; A Farm Family’s Fundraiser"

Bill Anderson
February 21, 2012

Out of curiosity, what makes Michael Badnarik a "constitutional expert"? Does he have a law degree? Has he won any cases in court, on constitutional grounds?

I first met him in 2004 when he was running for president. From my understanding, he is a retired nuclear engineer, not a constitutional lawyer.

Sylvia Gibson
February 21, 2012

My condolences to the Sherwood family and friends.


Will the "Rights Workshop" information be made available at some point in the future for all to read?

Bill Anderson
February 21, 2012

Noam Chomsky on the American perversion of libertarian ideals:


The Complete Patient
February 21, 2012

Badnarik goes around the country speaking about the U.S. Constitution, gives day-long seminars. I've heard him speak and he knows what he's talking about. I don't know if he's a lawyer, and frankly, don't care. You can definitely be an expert on the Constitution without being a lawyer.


Bill Anderson
February 21, 2012

I have heard Badnarik speak too.

I've never been impressed with the so-called "Libertarian" movement of America (more accurately "Propertarian"), which narrowly focuses on private property as the basis for all freedom. Even America's founding fathers (with all their flaws — slaveholders, banking aristocrats, and leading US Marshalls on the Western fron to crush farmer rebellions against the Whisky tax) understood that there needed to be limits to the rights of property, in order to guarantee equal rights for all. (See the the quotations below)

There is after all, a reason that property is not mentioned until the 4th amendment, while the rights of free speech, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances are given first priority.

Also, Badnarik's contention that the 16th amendment to the constitution (which created the income tax) was not ratified throws into question his credentials. It seems to me that he is more of a crank and conspiracy theorist than a legitimate "constitutional expert."


Next, when you consider Badnariks (and Ron Paul's) views on women's reproductive freedom, it seems that they are not libertarian at all, but actually very authoritarian. Like most so-called "Libertarians" and "Constitutionalists" in the US, they believe in freedom for property owning white males, and bondage for everyone else. I am reminded of the saying that a "Libertarian is an anarchist who wants police protection from his slaves."

It was, after all, the petro-chemical billionaire Koch Brothers (whose father was a founder of the racist John Birch Society) that put the US Libertarian Party, and its social movement, on the US political map. But that's another story.

The US founding fathers were socialists, haven't you heard?


"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right."
-Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to James Madison), 1785

"While it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from Nature at all … it is considered by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no one has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land … Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society."
Thomas Jefferson

(Yes folks… that's Thomas Jefferson advocating for a progressive income tax and for limits on property rights. Next comes Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine)

"Private property is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt."
-Benjamin Franklin

"All property, indeed, except the savage's temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it."
-Benjamin Franklin

"Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds. "
-Thomas Paine

(It is also worth noting that Thomas Paine wrote an entire pamphlet speaking in favor of progressive taxation and a guarenteed income for every citizen– Agrarian Justice)

And of course, here's the real kicker:

"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."
-Adam Smith

Bill Anderson
February 22, 2012

I think this article from the Onion pretty much sums up my feelings about the intellectually dishonest constitutional rhetoric coming from the so-called "Libertarians", such as Badnarik.


February 22, 2012

Yet another bunch of obsessive political diatribes by Bill A that provide absolutely no help to the farmers and food club managers under attack, as discussed above.

Bill, instead of attacking someone who's trying to help them, a person you obviously feel is deviously subversive and trying to destroy the government, what do you propose to do? I don't see you stepping up in his place to run seminars to help those farmers and food club managers, especially with all your expertise in the Constitution….

Bill Anderson
February 22, 2012

Hi Goatmaid.

I have forwarded information about jury nullification to Vernon Hershberger, in hopes that this will help him with his case.

We had an opportunity to legalize raw milk in Wisconsin, with RawMI, but this opportunity was completely squandered by the "libertarians" in the movement. It perplexes me how Grade A certified organic dairy farmers refused to work with RawMI because of this misguided "libertarian" ideology they get in their head. They seem to have no problem with Grade A standards or organic standards. They could easily drop the organic certification and replace it with a raw certification, but apparently that is too much of a problem.

I don't purport to be an expert in the constitution. But I can detect BS when I smell it, and the US "libertarian" movement REEKS of it. Just do some research on the Koch Brothers… they are probably the most influential "libertarians" in the US today (and for good reason… Koch Industries are notorious corporate polluters)

If you do the research, you can trace this extreme-right-wing individualist ideology to neo-confederates in the old south, and to the deposed feudal aristocrats of Europe who financed Ludwig von Mises to develop his theories. (FYI — the American "von Mises Institute" is listed as a neo-confederate organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center)

I don't think the American "libertarian" movement is trying to destroy the government at all. Quite the opposite — they are trying to stregnthen the private tyrannies of corporate capital, which neccessarily requires a strong coercive state to enforce. Why else do you think there is this ongoing glorification of sheriffs? (It was, after all, the county sheriffs who were the most ardent defenders of segregation in the old south. Many of them were also members of the KKK).

Frankly, the reason I launch these attack is because the direction the raw milk movement is taking is very frightening for me. Gordon Watson is winning. Badnarik, for the record, is against the Civil Rights Act — a despicable position which should be denounced by everyone in the raw milk movement.

We are headed towards a corporate feudalism in this country, and the raw milk movement seems to have no problem going right along with it. I want to be involved in a green & progressive raw milk movement that embraces feminism, racial justice, enviromental stewardship, milk quality standards higher than the standards for pasteurization, and an alliance between urban progressive activists and small rural farmers. That is a far cry from the chauvanistic, racist, patriarchal right-wing raw milk movement we see unfolding before us.

Sylvia Gibson
February 22, 2012


"The 13-year review looked at more than 120 dairy product-related outbreaks that occurred in 30 states between 1993 and 2006. "

Guess they needed to stop before 2007 as pasteurized milk killed people, raw milk hasn't.

Mark McAfee
February 22, 2012

I came to know Mike Badnarick in Wisconsin when he spoke at a raw milk rally in the ice cold of winter.

He then died ( literally ) and was saved by two awesome Paramedics and an ER staff that did not give up after 30 minutes of ACLS and life saving advanced medicine. He narrowly escaped deathafter an apparent heart attack, just an hour after he made a presentation about freedom and raw milk in defense of Max Cane. I watched the ambulance pull away with the CPR going full blast.

Mike now continues to travel arround the US supporting freedom and the right to eat foods of your own choosing.

I may not agree with all of Mikes beliefs….but I agree 100% with his passion and the right for him to speak and challenge the establishment. Just because others may not share our detailed thoughts of how everything should be in our perfect world…does not mean that we all can not enjoy and respect some other persons passion and zest for life as an American. He is a great American voice and a damn lucky one.

February 22, 2012

I'd take Bill more seriously if his arguments weren't largely composed of straw-men. One wonders if he's actually read many libertarian writings as the scope of his knowledge doesn't even rise to the level of Wikipedia. Such arguments only serve to insulate progressives and liberals from considering the Libertarians and their ideas; the latter which should be their greatest allies in the fight for freedom.

I doubt Bill will ever be at peace with the freedom loving farmers of the raw milk movement since food freedom is diabolically opposed to his agenda of regulation.

Government regulation and freedom are incompatible for regulation presumes that the activity is illegal but for government permission. This is the opposite of the legal foundations of our nation which see people as the source of authority, not government. The many freedoms we have come to enjoy come out of the history of English common law which respects liberties, including private property, and was adverse to regulation. Our liberties did not spring from the various marxist inspired movements which often hated individual rights. It was these movements which introduced government regulation to our country and which are now responsible for the enslavement and ensickment of many.

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others." Thomas Jefferson in his "Notes on the State of Virginia".

I have a few other choice TJ quotes about what he'd think about our present situation, but I refrain. This quote is in full agreement with much of libertarian thought and quite opposed to Bill's view and that of the regulatory complex currently persecuting raw milk producers. To call TJ a socialist is quite a stretch.

John M
February 22, 2012

Good observations Pete. The way Bill misuses evidence, quotes, sets up straw people and positions, and the like is appalling. Thankfully, I think most people at this point realize it, especially in how he distorts various people's positions, like Ron Paul, or those who oppose certain worshiped pieces of legislation that have done more harm than good to our nation and all its people.

And using the Southern Poverty Law Center as a resource certainly isn't going any place positive or objective – an ultra-left wing radical group is obviously going to call any limited government person or group ultra-right wing.

SPLC has basically classified half the nation (you know the other half that disagrees with their radical, leftist agenda) as domestic terrorists.

Continuing the fallacious idea that RM in WI by RAWMI was derailed by "ultra-libertarians" makes me think at this point, perhaps Bill has resorted to writing satire and comedy in his posts around here, so if that is true, we can all enjoy them a bit more for what they are – stand up internet comedy, not real discussions of the issues.

In that case, I appreciate Bill, as we all need a little laughter every now and then!

February 22, 2012

A long but interesting 2001 article about British cheesemakers under threat from over-regulation, which corresponds with raw milk here in the U.S.:

For example:
"EU regulation imposes a `zero tolerance' for Listeria monocytogenes in cheese but it does not apply to other foods such as pates, meats and salads. However, it is the consumption of meat products that contributes to the majority of food poisonings. … This is even more surprising in the view of the fact that `several countries have concluded that the complete absence of Listeria monocytogenes for certain ready-to-eat foods is an unattainable and unrealistic requirement that would restrict food production and consumption without having a positive impact on public health'."

and: "What is needed is a rational approach towards hygiene and regulation but not one where food is rendered totally sterile. Good hygiene combined with encouragement of local products and the promotion of vigorous good health is not only possible but necessary."

And lots more….