Why Consumers Need to Take the Lead in Organizing Against the FDA and Its Lackeys; Farmageddon DC Showing; FDA Mustn’t “Waiver”; More Blog Musings

?As I was putting up the video of Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger being served with a court summons, I wondered to myself: What purpose does putting this little video, which just shows an officer handing a guy a sheaf of papers, quipping “just doing my job,” really serve?

The answer relates to a question lots of people were asking at the Raw Milk Freedom Riders rally in Chicago last Tuesday: How do we educate more people about the government outrages taking place to control our food?

The answer is that more and more people who value and care about their food need to see and read about what’s going on. That little video clip simply adds some more reality–a real farmer being served a real summons by a real officer of the law to come to a real court room in front of a real judge with the possibility of the farmer being sent to a real jail.

And that video helps educate us to other matters. For example, what kind of assistance can farmers expect and not expect from their local sheriffs? The local sheriff in most parts of the country is the chief law enforcement officer, has authority over state police, and can help determine which crimes prosecutors pursue. I wrote about the sheriff’s role back in 2007, when then-Michigan farmer Greg Niewendorp was fighting state efforts to test his cattle herd.

Sheriffs have lots of power, and farmers are wise to educate them and cultivate their respect, as Deborah Stockton described in her comment following my previous post. But it’s important to understand that there are limitations on their power. Brad Rogers, the sheriff in Elkhart County, IN, who wrote a letter to the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of farmer David Hochstetler, is outspoken that the federal government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “are getting out of hand” in nosing around without search warrants, for example. But, he says, “If they come to the farm with a warrant in hand, there is nothing I can do.”

What’s important to appreciate here is that we can’t depend on any one group or organization to save our farmers and our food. We can’t depend on the farmers to do it alone. We can’t look to the sheriffs to be the saviors. We can’t expect food sovereignty ordinances to do the trick. I say this to emphasize the point that there is no magic bullet here.

Brave farmers and principled sheriffs can help enormously because they act as obstacles to the FDA and state agencies that click their heels to the FDA’s commands. Part of the reason they go after small farms is because they are easier to come down on than Big Ag. When FDA agents show up at a Big Ag corporation, they know they’ll face an array of high-priced corporate lawyers, who know what questions to ask and exactly what the company’s rights are. When they show up at an Amish farm, they have carte blanche…or at least, they have encountered no defense.  

But I sense those apparatchniks are so intent on exerting their will and subjugating us that these obstacles alone won’t be enough. It will depend on us, the people who value our food, to take action.  

We need to get the word out about how serious the situation is. In that vein, the cases of Dan Allgyer and Vernon Hershberger can be very helpful. To the extent food club members and other people in the community are willing to show up and publicly assert their backing for these brave men, and in opposition to the forces of subjugation, we may have a chance of winning.

It’s also important as well to appreciate that what is happening to our raw dairy farmers and food club operators isn’t happening in isolation. There’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about the federal government’s efforts to turn more people into criminals–it focuses on one poor government worker who must have irritated someone along the way, and now has a criminal record to make a tough life that much harder. Tyranny comes upon us gradually, and when we realize what’s happening, it is very tough to turn things around.

We are rapidly approaching crunch time in food rights. The next important date is 1 p.m. January 4 at the courthouse in the City of Baraboo, WI, located at 515 Oak Street. That is where Vernon Hershberger’s hearing will be held. Come one, come all.


I’ve meant to publish an alert that the movie, “Farmageddon”, will be screened tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m. on Capitol Hill. The reason I’m mentioning is because of its important educational value–so our Washington politicians can see what is happening on America’s farms. Kristin Canty, the movie’s creator, urges people who care about food rights to alert their senators and representatives, and encourage them to attend the screening.


There is a lengthy article about raw milk just published by Bloomberg News Service. Overall, it’s not as negative as many of the national media articles, so in that sense, I guess it’s a positive.

There’s this revealing quote: “Illnesses linked to raw milk may hurt the dairy industry if consumers fail to realize lack of pasteurization causes the outbreaks, Chris Galen, spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, said in an interview.

” ‘What’s happening is bad for the image and reputation of overall. It’s damaging,’ said Galen. The Arlington, Va.- based federation — whose members include Land O’Lakes Inc. in Arden Hills, Minn., and Agri-Mark Inc. in Methuen, Mass., and produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply — is calling on the FDA not to waver in the face of “pressure tactics” from raw milk supporters, according to a Nov. 1 press release.

Yes, I can just imagine the conversations this trade group’s reps have with the FDA (brief one-way conversations). “Hey guys, I hate to have to remind you of this, but remember who calls the shots here. Now get your butts out there and kick some Amish ass.”


Finally, the topic of this blog’s tone has been coming up a lot of late. I’ve had any number of private messages that people are offended, feel drowned out, feel a loss of focus by some of the comments. As solutions, it’s been suggested that I kick some people off the blog, or not allow anonymous comments. One not atypical suggestion was to “put aside your ego – and get rid of the idiots…”

I have always been loathe to interfere with the flow of commentary, just because that has long been one of the blog’s attractions…though I have taken action against comment abusers on occasion. That includes a troll we had hanging around. And I am exploring a way to bring some order to the anonymous comments.

All this discussion has made me realize I’ve been doing this blog for going on six years. Seems like just yesterday…But I think it’s safe to assume that any Internet information-commentary vehicle must undergo lots of shifts over that time period, and this blog is no exception. Some great people have come and gone. My tone has shifted, probably less hysterical. (Not sure if that’s good or bad.) More to the point, the issue of food rights has emerged as not only a hot topic, but as something part of a real movement.

There is always going to be lots of tension during such tumultuous times, especially when real people are facing real judges and real jail sentences, and there are sincere disagreements among caring individuals. The disagreements can become especially frustrating when, more than anything else, there is a huge desire for unity and common purpose.

Despite the negativity that crops up from time to time, and sometimes is quite intense, I have long been grateful for the vast majority of people who grace its pages. I have had the opportunity to be involved with a wonderful community of individuals–sure, some are quirky or highly opinionated–but mostly have a serious desire to do good and right. I’m not sure exactly what all the ferment of recent weeks means exactly. But I do have a sense that this blog is in some ways a mirror of what’s happening…and sometimes we don’t like the reflection we see.

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26 Comments on "Why Consumers Need to Take the Lead in Organizing Against the FDA and Its Lackeys; Farmageddon DC Showing; FDA Mustn’t “Waiver”; More Blog Musings"

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Tim wightman
December 13, 2011 9:12 pm

I think the biggest asset that the FDA and food corporations have in this advance of who controls food is that the majority of local food advocates still see themselves as consumers.
We are told consumers are king, and can get what we want, but I think we can all agree that is not the case but makes for a good policy if you are trying to control the masses. Just as right to assemble keeps us thinking we can say and do what we please.
For most, the responsibility ends when the check is signed or we leave site… Read more »

Karen James
December 13, 2011 10:16 pm

Thank you, David, for your six years of diligent hard work. I don't remember when I first started reading your blog on a regular basis, but I would guess that I have been lurking here in the background for nearly the entire six years. I deeply appreciate your efforts!

After reading comments over the past few days, I was also frustrated by those contributors who are using your blog to grandstand on pet issues. I like Young Bill's contributions regarding cheese, but he is so far off track at times that I now simply skip over everything… Read more »

Bill Anderson
December 13, 2011 10:23 pm


Just to clarify, my comments in the previous thread were NOT meant to be insults of people's religious practices. I am 100% in favor of religious freedom, and would completely support forming a secular or neo-pagan religion around the consumption of raw milk.

The purpose of my comments is that I am very very worried that certain elements of American Christianity are not in favor of religious freedom for other groups, namely Muslims. This is an ongoing problem in many Western nations, not just ours. I also worry about certain Christian elements (such as Gordon Watson) who… Read more »

December 13, 2011 11:19 pm

Personally, I think it's better to leave the name at the bottom… even if you don't like a person's writing, sometimes they do surprise you with something you might not have read if you'd known ahead of time who wrote.

Re Young Bill, I usually can spot his writing by the first sentence, confirmed when it rambles on and on, usually about something that has nothing to do with fresh milk and everything to do with how much he knows about everything. So I rapidly skim his stuff, just in case he does surprise me with relevance. Same with Milky… Read more »

Cheyenne Christianson
December 13, 2011 11:34 pm

The food rights movement is finally gaining the momentum it needs to take over, but it may take bit yet. I'm as impatient as anybody in wanting to see it happen right now. I've been following (and producing quality food) for 30+ years, which is most of my life, and we are seeing a tidal wave compared to back then. Which is why TPTB are becoming so aggressive.All those years they have worked to manipulate, lie, distort, and sell their souls for naught. They see the writing on the wall and are making one last mad dash… Read more »

Nourish Yourself
December 14, 2011 3:06 am

I agree, leave the name at the bottom. You may miss some pearls in one's comments.

One thought that came to mind when Chris Zunker Sauk Co. sheriff said "I'm just doing my job" – is that what the nazi soldiers said to themselves when rounding up the Jews to send them to concentration camps? Pretty sad statement for someone serving the public. Pretty sad statement for society. The Holocaust was real and if we don't stand up to these goons, it could soon happen here.


Jennifer Feeney
December 14, 2011 3:35 am

Even through all of the random and narrow-minded comments, I have really enjoyed this blog. Thank you David for your hard work.

As mentioned by Cheyenne, the homeschool movement is moving in right along side the food movement. You wouldn't believe the number of homeschool families that are raising their children outside of the traditional education and food systems. Food, wholesome nourishing food, provides our children with what they need to think and learn. Oh, the conversations we have about food rights along with curriculum choices! They go hand-in-hand.

In fact, think about the… Read more »

The Complete Patient
December 14, 2011 8:29 am

What you are describing is a kind of partnership between farmers and the people who are fed by the farm (trying to avoid calling them "consumers.") There is a political component that is based on growing numbers of people so engaged. But there is a legal component that must be dealt with. So far, the judges have been inclined to accept the regulators' claim that our legal mechanisms (food clubs, leasing arrangements, herdshares) are designed to "circumvent" the law, rather than comprise legitimate legal contracts. While these mechanisms haven't received a full legal test, my sense is we… Read more »

Milky Way
December 14, 2011 10:10 am

"So far, the judges have been inclined to accept the regulators' claim that our legal mechanisms (food clubs, leasing arrangements, herdshares) are designed to "circumvent" the law, rather than comprise legitimate legal contracts."

These contracts seem clearly designed to avoid regulation of any kind. This seems reckless from a food safety perspective, but also opens the door to fraud as alleged in the Rawesome case (Sharon Palmer).

The alternative is to change the law as they are proposing in NJ.




Sylvia Gibson
December 14, 2011 10:34 am

"This seems reckless from a food safety perspective, but also opens the door to fraud as "

And you think the current system is working, compliments of the govt? People are subjected to adulterated/contaminated foods, water, environments, and the govt encourages this. People are sickened in so many ways that helps to give more money to the industrial complex et al. As for fraud? LOL misleading and/or out right lies if no different than fraud. People buy foods thinking they are healthy and not contaminated in any way, and that is not so.

I would have… Read more »

The Complete Patient
December 14, 2011 11:18 am

Milky Way,
It is real land/equity ownership that allows farmers to consume the milk of their cows, even in states that ban the sale of raw milk. The point of our system is to provide protection to private property ownership, outside the parameters of state control, including food safety regulation. Our private enterprise system allows ownership to be extended on a private basis fairly widely, sometimes under corporate rules and sometimes under state and federal securities laws. The challenge seems to be to establish true ownership, and this is where the legal eagles need to get involved. You… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 14, 2011 11:53 am


In 1954: "reported that Navy recruits who were given daily doses of broad-spectrum antibiotics, such as chlortetracycline or penicillin, to prevent strep infections gained 4.8 pounds over 7 weeks, compared to a 2.7 pound gain in recruits given a placebo. "

I didn't know they gave antibiotics to "fatten" bovines….I thought it was because of bacteria.

The govt has known these studies for over 50 years and have not changed anything. All about $$$$

Wayne Craig
December 14, 2011 12:23 pm

I saw this article in "The Milkweed". Thank goodness FDA has determined that adding wood products to our processed food is "safe". I suppose Milky Way sleeps better knowing the regulators are watching out for those ignorant, fraud susceptible consumers that eat wood in their McDonald's cheeseburger. And Cornucopia just came out with their Cereal Report. http://cornucopia.org/cereal-scorecard/ Apparently, Kashi Go Lean Natural cereal is made with 100% GMO soybeans. I think both USDA and FDA can take credit for protecting us with that one.… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 14, 2011 2:10 pm

"Shining a light on the practices of the food industry should help us get consumers to stand and with us farmers against TPTB. "

This is the key. This will allow people to actually "see" what is going on with the phoods tossed at them.

Ingvar Odegaard
December 14, 2011 6:04 pm

Deborah Stockton:
In re. to your comments of 12/11 with the post date of 12/12-
Thank you for the analysis. It will take me a while to absorb it. At first glance it appears relevant, importantly so, for understanding the big picture: farm/economic/regulatory as it developed 1940 to the present. I wondered where the milkman had gone.
On the other hand, my figures were far simpler perhaps than you may have thought them to be. As the subject of cost for milk (whatever the arrangement (teat… Read more »

Ingvar Odegaard
December 14, 2011 6:29 pm

All comments reveal. Concealmance is futile, ye Borg and ye scalliwags.
Trite and true, regardless, I find the comments here at TCP a blast.

I am disheartened to read of weariness setting in and to see a jejune atmosphere at times. Enough ill comments can take the wind out of anyones sails and that is for sure. The weather will turn for the better dont you think? It is my hope so.

The gummint can purely butt out of our private contracts.

Who is threatened by these private contracts?

What is threatened by these private contracts?

This government, are they power… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 14, 2011 10:49 pm


To be continued to 8:30 a.m. Jan. 27 in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. …..

Gwen elderberry
December 15, 2011 12:41 am

I've subscribed to Google Scholar alerts on E. coli and HUS, and just received an article published by Mae-Wan Ho, a geneticist. The article relates the possibility of GMO influenced bacteria causing the E. coli outbreak in Germany, and why she thinks so. in The Wikipedia page on her is:


The article:


She has maintained that the use of GMO in crops can cause antibiotic resistance in bacteria, contributing to disease in humans, and she has been criticized thoroughly for this postulation by the scientific community. It has a good bit of scientific jargon, but… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
December 15, 2011 12:54 am


Coming to a store near you.


Follow the money….

It makes sense, regarding what Dr. Ho has said. The comments after the article are interesting too.

Dave Milano
December 15, 2011 5:02 am

This comment got to me:

[Private food] contracts seem clearly designed to avoid regulation of any kind. This seems reckless from a food safety perspective

There is so much wrong with the never-trust-people-to-make-good-decisions mindset that one doesnt know where to begin in discussing it, but basic human health concerns makes a good starting point:

There is mounting evidence that GMO foods may be creating seriousreally very serioushealth problems, yet they are being given a relative free pass by our regulatory community. We are to believe that this is not reckless at all, but sensible, while on the other hand when reasonable, sane… Read more »

Milky Way
December 15, 2011 8:28 am

What is going on at OPDC Facebook and RAWMI (they relocated from this blog over to a Fan page)? Any questions about the outbreak/recall are deleted and the poster gets blocked. The lack of transparency is expected from the government, but why isn't the dairy reporting all the findings from duplicate private lab and government samples (product, cow feces, swabs, etc.)?


Sylvia Gibson
December 15, 2011 8:42 am

"What is going on at OPDC Facebook and RAWMI (they relocated from this blog over to a Fan page)? "

OP has had a web page for years, it isn't new.

"Any questions about the outbreak/recall are deleted and the poster gets blocked. "

It is a PRIVATE web page, and they can allow whatever they want.

"The lack of transparency is expected from the government, but why isn't the dairy reporting all the findings from duplicate private lab and government samples (product, cow feces, swabs, etc.)?"

Why don't you ask Mark about his lab results? Since the govt lies/misleads/… Read more »

Milky Way
December 15, 2011 9:42 am


The OPDC and RAWMI facebook pages are relatively new (not been around for years). But, I agree, they absolutely can block comments in that social media venue as they choose.

I appreciate David's blog that rarely censors comments, and look forward to his findings and report on the situation in California.


Sylvia Gibson
December 15, 2011 10:05 am

The facebook page has been there at least since Dec 2010. does it make any difference? You post as if you are trying to incite people…Really pathetic, I would expect more out of a supposed educated person. .

Gwen elderberry
December 16, 2011 5:10 am

Thanks, Sylvia. I intend to read one of Ho's books, but I'd like to take genetics and statistics first so that I understand it more thoroughly.

Stacy Pearson
December 24, 2011 9:53 am

On behalf of the many children in states across America, whose families find it tough to get their hands on raw milk, I feel it is time for the Raw Milk Institute to square up some miscommunications about RAWMI's mission, agenda and recent activities. At the core of our mission is the desire to work with local activists who agree with our mission to expand raw milk access. To do that we need to build a positive working relationship with farmers, consumers, regulators and legislators. Working together with others helps us to connect with those who are outside of… Read more »