Here is a tragic example of the soft tyranny of bureaucratic goodie-goodies backed by corporate muscle in favor of closing markets:

In the thirty years of Morningland Dairy operations NO ONE has become ill from consuming their products. Yet they have been ordered by the Missouri Milk Board to destroy ALL of their cheese without actual tests being performed on the cheese stock. This is nearly 50,000 pounds of cheese, or approximately $250,000.

Since the Milk Board and the FDA showed up at Morningland on August 26th, they have been “embargoed” from shipping or making any product. They dumped their milk for nearly six weeks before being approved to send it into homogenized, pasteurized distribution. All the while, they have had to pay the bill to keep the dairy and cheese plant operable.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a farmer on a sheep diary in Eastern Washington and we are all too familiar with the struggles of small operations like ours to produce an alternative to the homogenous outputs of big dairy operations. Aside from the health benefits of unprocessed milk, there’s an obvious economic attribute to this. As locally owned and operated farms gain market share, we begin to see a dramatic rise in the violent enforcement of these laws and regulations. When you look closely and see the intensity with which this is done, it becomes obvious that justice is not the goal, but fear. The stigma the government and big business places on raw milk is outrageous. A similar story in Wisconsin provides another frightening example: A small operation there had been selling raw cow’s milk to local neighborhoods for years. The government suddenly notified them that they had to cease their operations immediately, but given that this was their only source of income, naturally, they did not comply. Not a month later, their small facility was the target of a massive sting operation — SWAT units with automatic rifles and all — culminating in the police introducing a couple drops of a pernicious blue dye into their milk storage and taking them to court.

  2. More than just about anything else else I read, it’s stories of the unconscious collusion of elite and germ-phobic upper-class urbanites, the bureaucracies they unthinkingly support, and the big business interests they helplessly sustain, that make me actually feel the pull of some sort of libertarian/anarchist radicalism. I grew up in Eastern Washington as well, and us older kids milked cows and sold the milk to neighbors for years. Thank goodness the FDA cops never got wind of out little operation; that was the source of half my college savings right there.

  3. I heard about this. It happened not too far from where I live. I grew up on a Missouri dairy farm. My family sold to a processor, but we consumed raw milk, butter and cottage cheese. You’ll hear all kinds of horror stories from brain-washed city-dwellers about “bloody diarrhea” and ugly deaths. Only government can protect us because all private enterprises are greedy and heartless, and nothing builds profits like killing off one’s customers.

  4. At least in my case, the big subsidized agribusiness interests would be mistaken if they thought strong-arming the Raw Milk producer might be protecting their market. I don’t consume the denatured, chemicalized, rot-gutted corporate swill. It tastes like , well, the stuff which is emitted out of the rear orifice of the cow, not the udder. Raw milk, on the other hand, goes down sweetly.

    But then, the glorious American Market seems to have habituated itself to stuff that either tastes like hell or has enough sugar in it to mask the problems of food designed almost exclusively for facilitating weeks of transit and shelf-sitting.

    Connecticut’s dairy herds on their last legs, we still manage to protect Raw Milk.

  5. These agencies aren’t protecting anyone in this case except the concentrated food industrial complex. Food and freedom are very much complementary “products”. Even though my politics are generally moderate to liberal, this makes a libertarian out of me.

  6. I heard a similar story just a month ago (milk dyed blue to prevent any sale), from a friend who lives in Amish country in Pennsylvania.

    Health regulations such as these come from state regulatory agencies, and as such there is some hope for changes in state law. We’ve seen some here. An organization in Kentucky called Community Farm Alliance has done some of its best work in lobbying to change a few state laws so as to allow windows of opportunity for small farmers to sell home-processed foods, for example. They did it with a tiny office staff and citizen lobbyists. That’s where my hope lies for any improvement.

  7. A few years ago they passed a law outlawing raw goat cheese (wanted to get ahead of the massive Chevre health crisis that was undoubtedly just around the corner).

    The legislator’s arguments were bog standard repetitions of industrial dairy wishes to dig the moat deeper around their business. The key argument was this: if people got sick eating raw milk cheeses, then VA farmers would be hurt by the loss of revenue by people refusing their product.

    Farmers being farmers, most folks made emotional appeals to health, happiness and pastoral scenes; appeals that were all perfectly legitimate if utterly useless.

    One man (his name escapes me), a former lawyer, researched the CDC records for illnesses related to milk and compared it to USDA statistics for production and $$ produced.

    Result: The worst (at that time) health outbreak in the history of CDC records was when 22 people died from pasteurized Milk contaminated at the plant; gross sales (and prices) for milk steadily increased for the next four quarters.

    My personal legislator from Rural Virginia – with whose sister I went to college – responded to my letter urging him to support traditional farming practices, emerging farm markets and good food with the standard Farm Bureau drivel that he supported Agricultural Enterprise Zones (whatever the fuck those are) – but not at the expense of hurting the Dairy business. The legislators duly passed the new regulations outlawing honest fresh cheese; it made it out of committee by one vote.

    Government/Business collusion is never so obvious as when it comes to agriculture; things you can only suspect with regards oil and high finance you can actually test and prove with agriculture… because, hey, lots of folks have a few cows… not so many have oil rigs.

  8. From way back in 1977: “Why have they [the land-grant colleges] never studied or questioned the necessity or the justice of the sanitation laws that have been used to destroy such markets [as support the small-farm economy]?”

    The Unsettling of America, of course (p. 153).

  9. Relaying off Peters’ comment, I desperately pray that Berry’s campaign against the exhausted whoredom of academic institutions who are selling their intellectual energies to the luring deep pockets of corporate research agendas garners more allies. His persistent reminder that these institutions have a foremost obligation to the places they are in and not to the wanton and miasmic lusts of the market is ignored almost ubiquitously, even by his own school, and this is a tragedy.

  10. Living about 45 minutes away from Morningland, I recently drove by the farm on Highway 60 after it had been contacted by government officials. My father, who was with me, told me stories of his visit to Morningland and attested to its well-run, pristine operation. On my way to DC, it seemed ironic that my last memory of home would be of the threat against the family farm while I traveled to very city responsible for that threat.

    Doreen Hannes, the author of the piece, is a family acquaintance and actively involved in the Ozarks Property Rights Congress. Property Rights issues are her passion, perhaps because she sees it eroded so quickly, even in an area as secluded and overlooked as the Ozarks. In an email that our family received, she probes the real problem with the seizure as a threat to the right of due process.

    “Some very serious issues need to be addressed here. It isn’t even all about our ability to make informed choices about our food. It goes much deeper than that to the very core of our justice system. Where is due process in this issue? When did we give agencies the authority to destroy our property with no indemnity? How is a business that has followed all required testing and never had an illness suddenly shut down and put out of business entirely? Why is there no clear process to be followed by agents that can then be given to businesses so they can have an idea of the processes if there is a problem? Where -in the name of all that is logical- has common sense, common courtesy and decency gone?

    Please read the article, and if you have questions, I will be happy to try to answer them.

    Be blessed!!!

    Doreen”

  11. The struggle over raw milk really comes down to Big Ag’s attempt to control all aspects of the market. I don’t know whether you’ll see a huge market for raw milk, probably not. So its niche market but even niche apparently now cannot exist in market where just a few companies and their statewide lackies want to run everything. What we see here is the collusion between the state and corporate interests that dominate so much of our politics and yet the politicians continue to attack “big government” without really seeing what make it so big and powerful.

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