What Will Bill Chirdon of PDA Do With His Big Prize from Raid on Mark Nolts Farm?

SalatinBk.jpgOne of Mark Nolt’s lasting images from last Friday’s raid of his farm by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, is of Bill Chirdon, the top PDA food safety official, walking off with a copy of Joel Salatin’s book, “Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal.”

Of course, that’s not the only lasting image. There are also the images of half a dozen police cars “coming in like a bunch of Vikings” last Friday morning, recalls Mark. And of Chirdon and his henchmen from the PDA, armed with a search warrant, confiscating up to $50,000 worth of dairy products and equipment. The worst was the equipment, says Mark, including a stainless steel cream separator, cheese-making tools, and valves for the vats, along with all the milk jugs. “A lot of it is older equipment—they don’t make the small dairy equipment any more.”

But the most curious was the seizure of Joel Salatin’s book, which recounts Joel’s run-ins with state and federal regulators who have made life miserable on his Virginia farm over the years. Mark sells the book from the farm (“I’ve sold quite a few of them”). “I just wish we had a photo of him leaving with the book,” says Mark. “I think he must have a sense of humor.”

I think Mark is quite generous to Chirdon. To me, there’s something obscene about Chirdon, who’s spent the last year harassing Mark Nolt and many of Pennsylvania’s raw milk farmers through discovery of pathogens that never make anyone sick on more than half a dozen dairies, just walking off with the book. It’s almost as if he’s mocking Mark and the other farmers Chirdon is trying to drive out of business. In fact, I don’t get the entire equipment-seizure part at all. If Mark is violating some law, then shouldn’t he be charged with violating the law and tried for that? Isn’t the seizure of equipment, and books, simply arbitrary and harassing?

As Mark says, “One thing we’re all clear on is that this is not about food safety.”

No, this is a struggle over freedom and rights. Mark doesn’t want to say what his legal approach will be when his trial comes up next Monday.

Mark is convinced Pennsylvania’s raw milk permitting doesn’t apply to people like him, who are engaged in private transactions with individual consumers. My guess is that while he could well be found guilty of violating PDA regulations by refusing to operate with a raw milk permit, officials will try to avoid putting this father of ten children into jail and turning him into even more of a cause celebre. Instead, they will likely try to drag the process out and bleed him financially via more product confiscations and other such harassment.

In such a situation, a PR and lobbying campaign could make a huge difference. When it comes to civil disobedience, the step that helps most is for others to join in—in this case, for other farmers to similarly refuse to obtain permits. There are any number of other Pennsylvania farmers who have refused to obtain permits, but haven’t been willing to stand up as Mark has done. That’s been the situation in other states as well, including New York and Michigan, for the simple reason that most farmers feel they can’t afford to jeopardize their businesses and properties in the interests of a cause. The state is okay with that, preferring to set an example of Mark to intimidate the others to come around. But the next worst thing from their viewpoint is for Mark to become a cause celebre, so the best option for opponents is to take Bob Hayles’ great suggestions (following my Friday post about Mark), and make sure Mark does in fact become a cause celebre, via press releases, calls to legislators and PDA’s office (number on the page I link to in the first paragraph), and attendance at his trial Monday (per Don’s advice following my previous post about California).

In the meantime, Mark says he will continue milking his cows and supplying his customers. Maybe Bill Chirdon will do some reading to prepare on his end.

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8 Comments on "What Will Bill Chirdon of PDA Do With His Big Prize from Raid on Mark Nolts Farm?"

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Bob Hayles
April 29, 2008 8:02 am

I’d sure like to see a copy of the search warrant for Mark’sfarm raid Friday. I’m just a dumb goat farmer,but I’ll bet I could tell if the warrant covered the seizure of the book.

If it didn’t, I’ll bet I couldask the local county district attorney for a theft warrant against Chirdon…just for starters.

Bob Hayles
Thornberry Village Homestead
Jasper, GA

Thornberry Village Homestead…a small goat dairy, owned by God, managed by Bob and Tyler.

April 29, 2008 7:43 pm


Here is a few parts of an editorial.You should read the whole thing.

" Standing Against A New Serfdom

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg and sparked the Protestant revolution. The Christian world– indeed, the Western world and everywhere else influenced by the Western world– has never been the same since. And yet the key concept that lay at the heart of that revolution was nothing more than: "We can read, too."

… Read more »

April 30, 2008 1:02 am

Please do not equate the Church to the Powers being used in this case.

TN homeschool mom
April 30, 2008 1:28 am

Actually the analogy to Luther and the Reformation is quite appropriate, considering that it was the Reformation that gave us (or reminded us of) the concepts of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, the importance of education (so all could learn to read the Scriptures), the rise of empirical science, the rule of law (Lex Rex), the rise of representative and constitutional forms of government, and the stimulation of free enterprise. It seems that our country is no longer qualified to be a constitutional republic, since our government no longer recognizes many of these God-given rights.

April 30, 2008 5:56 am

"Please do not equate the Church to the Powers being used in this case."

Ya, our government hasn’t burned anyone at the stake yet and they’ve limited torture to foreigners.

April 30, 2008 7:04 am

Excuse me. I should have included the following note along with my previous post.


"NOTE: This editorial is not to be taken as critical or disparaging of the Catholic Church today– a church in which I myself was raised and for which I have great respect, especially in recent years. Nor is it intended as an endorsement of any other church or religious perspective. The history discussed here is presented not for its own sake, but merely as a useful model… Read more »

Barbara Smith
April 30, 2008 8:18 pm

Don or David – Does anyone know when Mark’s hearing is to be held on May 5? And the address? We would like to attend if possible.

Also, a general comment on this situation and on whether or not Mark should seek legal help. Sure it may delay things a bit for him to get a lawyer – maybe a lawyer could poke some holes in the state’s case and hold off the consequences for a while. But it would still in the end come back to the same issue. No lawyer would be able to prove in court that… Read more »

May 1, 2008 8:15 pm

Here’s another good article: http://www.counterpunch.org/cohen04262008.html

It brings up the Clinton administration and "Mon-Satan".