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IRS, DOJ SLAPDOWN: ONE SMALL STEP FOR THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

Constitution, CORRUPTION, Courts, Farmageddon, Federal gov & land grabs, Lawsuits, Liberty

 By Cheryl Chumley
July 21, 2016
NewsWithViews.com

David, meet Goliath. Incredibly enough, a small-town Maryland dairy farmer and his wife just won their legal claim against the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice and will now be able to recoup tens of thousands of dollars seized in what turned out to be an unconstitutional application of civil asset forfeiture.

What’s more, the win could prove a chip in the whole block of forfeiture laws, also known in constitutional circles as the Devil of the Fourth Amendment and by property and business owners as government-sanctioned theft.

That’s because civil asset forfeiture laws, as overseen and implemented by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshals Service, with some help from the IRS, allow government entities to seize properties – including cash, cars, computers and a host of other items beginning with the letter A and running through the letter Z – from those who have not been convictted of any crime. In some cases, like in that of the Maryland dairy farmers, Randy and Karen Sowers, the targets of seizures don’t even have to be formally accused of any crime.

It’s a profitable business, this government taking, In 2015 alone, the Department of Justice oversaw the collection of more than $1.6 billion from the 50 states participating in the civil asset forfeiture “equitable sharing” program that then disburses funds back to localities.

The Sowers were just another statistic caught in the government’s civil asset forfeiture ring.

For years, the couple operated South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, selling eggs, milk and other dairy products at local farmers’ markets, in mostly cash transactions that poked the interest of the IRS. In 2012, the agency seized tens of thousands of dollars from the couple’s bank account, saying they had purposely deposited money in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid tripping the banking reporting requirements – a practice known as “restructuring” and one that feds say is commonly used by criminals to dodge taxes and prosecutions for illegal business ventures.

But as Forbes pointed out in a recent article: “Randy and Karen were never charged with structuring (or any other crime).”

With civil asset forfeiture, the absence of criminal behavior is not a defense. Cash seized, the Sowers faced the dismal prospect of fighting in court to prove their innocence, or forfeiting $29,500 to the feds – so they chose the payoff, Option B. Then in 2014, the IRS changed its policy and said restructuring laws, the frequent precursor to civil asset forfeitures, could only be applied to actual criminals – ostensibly, no longer to those who simply deposiited the wrong amounts of cash in the bank from milk and ice cream sales. Good news for the Sowers; they sued, and the Institute for Justice that handled their case won.

In a letter, the Department of Justice wrote “the forfeiture in this matter is being mitigated in the full amount forfeited of $29,500,” and advised the Sowers to contact the IRS Asset Forfeiture Coordinator for payment. What a win – and now, the Institute for Justice is predicting the victory could “set a precedent that should make it possible for hundreds of other property owners in similar cases to get their money back as well.”

Great. But before cheering, consider this: The U.S. Marshals Service says it’s currently managing $3.1 billion worth of assets seized under the forfeiture program. That translates into 17,564 individual pieces of property or sums of seized cash, according to the agency’s own website. In 2015, roughly $365 million of seized assets were shared with state and local law enforcement. And since 1985, a total of $7.4 billion of seized properties have been shared with participating agencies. The point?

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The Sowers’ win is tremendous. The chance for the Sowers’ case to set a precedent that will lead to the return of wrongfully seized properties for hundreds of other families is terrific. But that’s just a dent. Anything less than what the Fourth Amendment promises – that the “right of the people to be secure in thheir persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause” is an unconstitutional taking. A handful of wins does not an intact Fourth Amendment make.

© 2016 Cheryl Chumley – All Rights Reserved

http://www.newswithviews.com/Chumley/cheryl148.htm

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Farmer Forced to Dump 248 Gallons of Raw Milk & Break 1200 Free Range Eggs by Michigan Dept of Agriculture

Agriculture, CORRUPTION, Farmageddon, State gov

Freedom Outpost.com

Daisy Luther

While Americans in the nearby city of Detroit face life in third world conditions, unable to even afford running water, the state of Michigan decided to direct its resources towards cracking down on a small food co-op in Standish for having the utter audacity to provide milk, butter, cream and eggs to people who bought shares in the organic dairy.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture must be so proud of their deeds, after they forced Joe and Brenda Golimbieski, the owners of Hill High Dairy and Jenny Samuelson, the owner of My Family Co-op, to dump out 248 gallons of milk, to break 100 dozen eggs, and to destroy an undisclosed amount of fresh cream, butter and cheese.

According to a post on the Hill High Dairy page on Facebook, the agents from the MDA stood over the family, watching as the food was destroyed.

100 dozen eggs… Each egg had to be broken. 248 gallons dumped in a sprayer that had to be witnessed by MDA being dumped and sprayed on the field.

Here are pictures of the destruction of this food from Hill High Dairy page – if you’re on Facebook, please go and give them a “like” to show your support.

According to the owners of the dairy, the MDA threatened to arrest the co-op owner, Jenny Samuelson, for “selling food without a license.” However, the farm is a co-op, where people must buy shares. The MDA, however, said that the co-op contracts were invalid, and therefore, instead of being shared, the food was being sold. Because co-op members had paid for their shares, technically the MDA stole food that belonged not just to the Golimbieski family, but to every single member of that co-op.

One member wrote angrily:

This is such a shame! I paid for these products and this is what happened!!!! They are all criminals!!! Government stealing all our food! I paid just so that Jenny and the farmers didn’t have to carry the burden all on their own!!!! A crying shame. Shame on Michigan’s Department of Agriculture! Criminals everyone on u!!!!

Looking at the website and Facebook page, all I see are happy, well-treated animals, actually roaming around in fields. How is it that Michigan approves of the horrific conditions in its state’s factory farms, where animals are tortured, drugged, and crammed into cages for the entirety of their miserable lives, but raising animals humanely and naturally is considered “dangerous”?

What is wrong with the world when REAL farming is treated like a crime and fresh food is treated like the crystal meth?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong – big corporations do not want us to have options. They want a monopoly and they are working hard to destroy our other choices. Big Agri clearly has many good friends in the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Clearly the “Department of Agriculture” really means the “Department of Big Agri”. They aren’t there to support small farmers or people who wish to be self-sufficient. They are there to lock down the market for corporate farms. (Like Dean Foods, who also owns Horizon Organics – read more about the way this company does business – they own up to 90% of the corporate milk business in the state, according to an article on The Complete Patient )

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Farmer Forced to Dump 248 Gallons of Raw Milk & Break 1200 Free Range Eggs by Michigan Dept of Agriculture

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Sheriff Defends Organic Farmers Bullied By Minnesota Officials

Agriculture, Constitution, Farmageddon, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

Western Journalism.com

The inspection agents, intent on challenging an organic farm that sold raw milk, called the sheriff for backup. But he refused for constitutional reasons.

Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/sheriff-defends-organic-farmers-bullied-minnesota-officials/#EvmsWPstkk5RfvLl.99

By Steve Eastman

 Lake View Natural Dairy Farm is popular in its community, a small town called Grand Marais in Northeastern Minnesota. It’s been in the Berglund family for close to a century. The farm’s reputation goes far beyond the local area, with some customers driving more than 200 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul. It is well-known for natural food, including raw milk, which many recognize for its health benefits.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) got into the act when the Berglunds briefly considered the idea of selling some of the milk for processing. The processor notified the MDA; and suddenly, Lake View Natural Dairy Farm was no longer operating under the radar. The MDA demanded an inspection. David and Heidi Berglund turned the agency down, citing the state constitution.

Article 13, section 7 states: “Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.” Also, the MDA’s own website states: “Minnesota law allows the sale of unpasteurized milk so long as it occurs on the farm at which the milk was produced (interpreted  from Statute 32.393, Subdivision 1).”

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Farmers to face fines or prison sentences for selling food directly to customers

Agriculture, Farmageddon

http://govtslaves.info/farmers-to-face-fines-or-prison-sentences-for-selling-food-directly-to-customers/

Farmers To Face Fines Or Prison Sentences For Selling Food Directly To Customers

Breaking News | August 13, 2013 | 81 Comments

( David Gumpert)  This would seem to embody the USDA’s advisory, “Know your farmer, know your food,” right? Not exactly.

For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.

In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences.

Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness.

Most recently, Wisconsin’s attorney general appointed a special prosecutor to file criminal misdemeanor charges against an Amish farmer for alleged failure to have retail and dairy licenses, and the proceedings turned into a high-profile jury trial in late May that highlighted the depth of conflict: following five days of intense proceedings, the 12-person jury acquitted the farmer, Vernon Hershberger, on all the licensing charges, while convicting him of violating a 2010 holding order on his food, which he had publicly admitted.

Why are hard-working normally law-abiding farmers aligning with urban and suburban consumers to flaunt well-established food safety regulations and statutes? Why are parents, who want only the best for their children, seeking out food that regulators say could be dangerous? And, why are regulators and prosecutors feeling so threatened by this trend?

Members of these private food groups often buy from local farmers because they want food from animals that are treated humanely, allowed to roam on pasture, and not treated with antibiotics. “I really want food that is full of nutrients and the animals to be happy and content,” says Jenny DeLoney, a Madison, WI, mother of three young children who buys from Hershberger.

To these individuals, many of whom are parents, safety means not only food free of pathogens, but food free of pesticides, antibiotic residues, and excessive processing. It means food created the old-fashioned way­from animals allowed to eat grass instead of feed made from genetically modified (GMO) grains­and sold the old-fashioned way, privately by the farmer to the consumer, who is free to visit the farm and see the animals.

Many of these consumers have viewed the secretly-made videos of downer cows being prodded into slaughterhouses and chickens so crammed into coops they can barely breathe.

These consumers are clearly interpreting “safety” differently than the regulators. Some of these consumers are going further than claiming contract rights­they are pushing their towns and cities to legitimize private farmer-consumer arrangements.

In Maine, residents of ten coastal towns have approved so-called “food sovereignty” ordinances that legalize unregulated food sales; towns in other states, including Massachusetts and Vermont, and as far away as Santa Cruz, CA, have passed similar ordinances.

The new legal offensive isn’t going over well with regulators anywhere. Aside from the Hershberger action in Wisconsin, and a similar one in Minnesota, Maine’s Department of Agriculture filed suit against a two-cow farmer, Dan Brown, in one of the food-sovereignty towns, Blue Hill, seeking fines and, in effect, to invalidate all the Maine ordinances.

In April, a state court ruled against the farmer, and in effect against the towns; sentencing is due within several weeks, and the case could well be appealed.

The jury in the criminal misdemeanor case of Minnesota farmer Alvin Schlangen last September acquitted him of all charges after several hours of deliberation. But the regulators’ push against privately-distributed food continues unabated.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has moved forward with a local prosecutor in Schlangen’s rural county, pressing similar criminal charges as the ones he was acquitted of in Minneapolis. He is scheduled to go on trial again in August. And in Wisconsin, prosecutors sought, unsuccessfully, to have Vernon Hershberger jailed for allegedly violating his jail terms since charges were filed in late 2011.

At its heart, this is a struggle over a steady erosion of confidence in the integrity of our industrial food system, which has been hit by disturbing disclosures seemingly on a weekly basis. In just the last few weeks, for example, we have seen shrimp, cookies, and veggie burgers recalled by the FDA for being sold with undeclared ingredients.

Also in recent weeks, members of Congress and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have escalated warnings about the growing danger of antibiotic resistant pathogens emerging from farm animals, which consume about 80 percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. The Atlantic reported last summer that medical specialists are seeing a spike in women with urinary tract infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, likely transmitted by chicken meat.

This erosion in the confidence of the food system carries serious implications. It financially threatens large corporations if long-established food brands come under prolonged and severe public questioning.

It threatens economic performance if foods deemed “safe” become scarcer, and thus more expensive. And it is potentially explosive politically if too many people lose confidence in the professionalism of the food regulators who are supposed to be protecting us from tainted food, and encourages folks to exit the public food system for private solutions like the consumers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and elsewhere.

Just look at the vituperative corporate response to recent consumer-led campaigns to label foods with genetically-modified ingredients.

As more consumers become intent on making the final decisions on what foods they are going to feed themselves and their families, and regulators become just as intent on asserting what they see as their authority over inspecting and licensing all food, ugly scenarios of agitated citizens battling government authorities over access to food staples seem likely to proliferate.

It’s an unfortunate recipe for a new kind of rights movement centered on the most basic acts­what we choose to eat.

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Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid

Agriculture, Farmageddon, Police State or SWAT teams

Posted: 08/15/2013 10:42 pm EDT  |  Updated: 08/16/2013 11:34 pm EDT

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” Smith’s statement said. She said the police didn’t produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn’t be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested — for outstanding traffic violations.

The city of Arlington said in a statement that the code citations were issued to the farm following complaints by neighbors, who were “concerned that the conditions” at the farm “interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties and are detrimental to property values and community appearance.” The police SWAT raid came after “the Arlington Police Department received a number of complaints that the same property owner was cultivating marijuana plants on the premises,” the city’s statement said. “No cultivated marijuana plants were located on the premises,” the statement acknowledged.

The raid on the Garden of Eden farm appears to be the latest example of police departments using SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics to enforce less serious crimes. A Fox television affiliate reported this week, for example, that police in St. Louis County, Mo., brought out the SWAT team to serve an administrative warrant. The report went on to explain that all felony warrants are served with a SWAT team, regardless whether the crime being alleged involves violence.

In recent years, SWAT teams have been called out to perform regulatory alcohol inspections at a bar in Manassas Park, Va.; to raid bars for suspected underage drinking in New Haven, Conn.; to perform license inspections at barbershops in Orlando, Fla.; and to raid a gay bar in Atlanta where police suspected customers and employees were having public sex. A federal investigation later found that Atlanta police had made up the allegations of public sex.

Other raids have been conducted on food co-ops and Amish farms suspected of selling unpasteurized milk products. The federal government has for years been conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized them, even though the businesses operate openly and are unlikely to pose any threat to the safety of federal enforcers.

Radley Balko is a senior writer and investigative reporter for The Huffington Post. He is also the author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

This story has been updated to clarify that a federal investigation found that the Atlanta police officers who raided a gay bar had made up the allegations of public sex.

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Agents Raid Animal Shelter, Kill Deer Named “Giggles”

Farmageddon, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment: Talk about intimidation.  Looks like Nazi Germany type of dictatorship. Terrible, just terrible.  If there was truly a problem with the fawn, there was a much more American way to take care of the situation. — Editor Liz Bowen

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/agents-raid-animal-shelter-kill-deer-named-giggles.html

Fox News

By Todd Starnes

The president of a Wisconsin animal shelter is furious after the state Department of Natural Resources raided the facility with armed agents, detained volunteer workers and killed a baby deer named “Giggles.”

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“I’m furious,” said Cindy Schultz, president of the Society of St. Francis in Kenosha, Wis. “We are a no-kill shelter. And they killed her. They killed Giggles. I’m furious – furious.”

Giggles the Deer

Giggles the Deer

Schultz told Fox News an Illinois family found a baby fawn that had been abandoned by her mother. The family brought the deer to the Wisconsin shelter.

Staff members nicknamed the deer “Giggles.”

Wisconsin law bans residents or shelters from possessing any live wild animals without a license. Wisconsin does not rehabilitate deer so if they find an abandoned fawn, the creature is left to die, Schultz said.

“We took it of course and we made arrangements to transfer the deer to an animal reserve in Illinois,” she said. “The day before she was supposed to leave, we had the raid.”

On July 15 DNR agents and four deputy sheriff’s staged the surprise raid in what staff workers called a massive and “intimidating” show of force.

According to a state affidavit, the DNR had been conducting aerial and ground surveillance in advance of the raid searching for an “illegally-held live captive Whitetail deer.”

“We didn’t know they were doing surveillance,” she said. “Five days before the raid, a DNR agent was hiding in the woods by our shelter watching the deer walk in and out of the barn.”

Schultz said agents rounded up the shelter’s nine staff members and detained them for nearly three hours as they searched for Giggles.

“They shut down our shelter and wouldn’t let anyone leave,” she said. “Nobody was allowed to use their phones. They were under armed guard.”

A 19-year-old staff member took photographs of the raid, but Schultz said a deputy sheriff confiscated his cell phone and deleted all the pictures.

Agents eventually found Giggles in the barn.

“She was a very scared little deer,” Schultz said. “The poor little thing must have been absolutely petrified.”

According to her version of events, two agents killed the deer in the barn and stuffed her in a body bag.

“It was horrifying,” Schultz said. “Everyone who loved that little deer and wanted to see her go to a wildlife rescue where she could live our her life, saw these DNR thugs haul her out of our no-kill shelter in a body bag.”

But DNR Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer denies that Giggles was killed at the animal shelter.

She told television station WISN the deer was tranquilized and killed at another location.

“These are always very difficult situations for both parties involved and we are empathetic to the fact of what happened because we know in our heart of hearts they tried to do the right thing” she told the television station. “

Schultz said the fact that DNR may have stuffed a live deer into a body bag is even more disturbing.

“If they put her in that bag alive, they’ve got some explaining to do,” she said. “That’s animal cruelty and in Wisconsin that’s a felony. I don’t know what these idiots did out here, but we’re going to find out.”

And she also wants to know why there was such a show of force. Why didn’t the DNR just pick up the phone and call?

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,” Niemeyer told the television station.

Schultz called that explanation ridiculous.

“Come on, this is a baby deer,” she said.

And that’s not the only thing the DNR agents took. They also discovered a Canadian goose – lounging by the shelter’s pond.

“The goose had been living there for eight years,” Schultz said. “But they grabbed it and said we couldn’t have it on our property.”

The goose was not killed.

“This is so bizarre it’s almost unbelievable,” Schultz said. “They’ve apparently got nothing else to do in Wisconsin.”

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Farmer acquitted of producing milk without license

Agriculture, cattle, Farmageddon

http://washingtonexaminer.com/farmer-acquitted-of-producing-milk-without-license/article/2530615

May 28, 2013 | 10:04 am | Modified: May 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm

It is a sad fact of modern life that seemingly everything is both heavily regulated by the government and politicized. This applies to, yes, even cow’s milk. Witness the case of Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger, who was prosecuted for selling raw milk to willing consumers — in this case friends and neighbors:

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Jurors found Vernon Hershberger, a 41-year-old Loganville, Wis., farmer, innocent of producing milk without a license, selling milk and cheese products without a license, and operating a retail establishment without a license. He was found guilty of one count of breaking a holding order issued by the state in June 2010, which barred him from moving any of the food he produced without a license.

The verdict means Mr. Hershberger can continue to sell his farm’s products to members of the buying club he started, said one of his attorneys, Elizabeth Rich. He faces as long as a year in jail and $10,000 in fines for the one guilty count; a sentencing date has yet to be announced.

“This is a huge win for food rights,” said Liz Reitzig, a founder of Farm Food Freedom Coalition, a group advocating for greater consumer access to natural, unprocessed food. The case “should give small farmers renewed courage to continue to operate within their communities.”

Milk is commonly pasteurized to remove harmful bacteria, but advocates of raw milk say the process also wipes out many beneficial nutrients. Raw milk can be consumed on the farm but can’t be sold legally in many states, including Wisconsin.

The case followed a nearly four-year investigation of Mr. Hershberger and his farm, Grazin Acres LLC, by the state, the No. 2 dairy producer after California. During deliberations, which capped a five-day trial in Sauk County Circuit Court, dozens of farmers, food-rights activists and Hershberger family members filled the courthouse, sharing raw milk from Mr. Hershberger’s farm. (Emphasis added.)

The prosecution might have made sense if the consumers were not aware that the milk was not pasteurized but there is no evidence that was the case. In fact, it appears that people bought Hershberger’s product precisely because it was raw. The milk was apparently sold to only 200 people that Hershberger considered “part owners in the farm.”

So, why was the state eager to prosecute Hershberger? As the Journal article notes, it is being lobbied to do so by the “Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition,” an industry lobbying group that doesn’t like competition from raw milk farms and is trying to bully them.

Meanwhile, many vegetarians and radical animal rights activists are anti-milk, arguing that drinking any form of it is both unhealthy and cruel to cows. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals once went so far as to urge college students to drink beer instead. (As if they needed any encouragement to do that.)

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Small Farms Fight Back: Food and Community Self-Governance

Agriculture, Farmageddon, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

PNP comment: In this article by the “progressive” Common Dreams, we see that some individuals are coming full-circle with their thought process and now believe that small farms are being destroyed by government agency over-regulations. Amazing how your beliefs change, when you are the one being persecuted. — Editor Liz Bowen

Published on Saturday, April 20, 2013 by Common Dreams

  by  Tory Field and Beverly Bell

Heather Retberg stood on the steps of the Blue Hill, Maine town hall surrounded by 200 people. “We are farmers,” she told the crowd, “who are supported by our friends and our neighbors who know us and trust us, and want to ensure that they maintain access to their chosen food supply.”

Blue Hill is one of a handful of small Maine towns that have been taking bold steps to protect their local food system. In 2011, they passed an ordinance exempting their local farmers and food producers from federal and state licensure requirements when these farmers sell directly to customers.

The federal government has stiffened national food-safety regulations in order to address the health risks associated with industrial-scale farming. Recent widespread recalls of contaminated ground turkey, cantaloupe, eggs, and a host of other foods illustrate the serious problems at hand. These outbreaks have been linked to industrial farms with overcrowded animals and unbalanced ecosystems. The significant distance between industrial farms and consumers creates a lack of accountability and difficulty tracing problems when they arise.

Small-scale farming, however, doesn’t spark the same safety risks. Small farmers who sell their food locally will tell you that the nature of their business, based on face-to face relationships with the people who eat their food, creates a built-in safety protection. They don’t need inspectors to make sure they are following good practices. Keeping their neighbors, families, and long-time customers in good health is an even better incentive. Customers are also more able to witness the farming practices firsthand.

Still, small farmers are being pushed out of business because they are saddled with the financial and bureaucratic burdens of the same regulations as large industrial farms. Heather and her family’s Quill’s End Farm raise grass-fed cows, lambs, pastured pigs, chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys, dairy cows, and goats. The diverse mix is better both for the land and the economic viability of the farm.

Given the scale of their business, building their own chicken processing unit was financially out of the question, so instead they were butchering at a neighboring farm’s USDA-approved unit. When state inspectors told them that USDA regulations didn’t allow them to share this neighbor’s facility, Quill’s End Farm was forced to stop raising and selling chickens altogether.

“I just remember the feeling that if that was happening to us, the same message was being given to all sorts of farmers of our scale and people were just going to give up and stop farming,” said Heather. “My sense, more than anything, was a really daunting realization that, ‘Oh, this is how farms get disappeared.’ And people are so supportive, but then when we disappear, everybody might just kind of shake their heads like, ‘Oh, it must just be really tough to make it farming.’”

So Heather, together with a small group of other farmers and farm patrons in Maine, began crafting the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, the first of its kind in the country. The ordinance exempts direct sales between farmers and customers – at farms, farmstands, and markets, for example – from state and federal licensing and inspections. It allows Heather to sell chicken at her farmstore, and Bob St. Peter, a fellow farmer and organizer, to sell his homemade cookies at the farmers’ market.

In March 2011, the ordinance passed unanimously in the town of Sedgwick, Maine. Three days later it was presented at Heather’s town meeting in Penobscot. “We spent a good while talking about whether to give $3,000 to our local library,” says Heather, “and I was sitting there thinking ‘Whoa, this is a tough crowd.’ But then when the ordinance came up, it was another unanimous vote. It was tremendous.” Other towns in Maine immediately followed suit.

Since then, says Heather, “We’ve heard from people in Tennessee, Texas, California, Virginia… someone in New Zealand. Last year, Vermont passed a food sovereignty resolution with similar language. Over in California they’re working in the direction of an ordinance in Mendocino County. In Arizona they’re beginning to circulate petitions. And this fall we heard that a town in Utah had passed the ordinance.” Over the two years following Sedgwick’s success, more than eight towns in Maine itself have adopted such ordinances.

As of this writing, Maine’s State Department of Agriculture is challenging one of the local ordinances by suing a dairy farmer. Community members are reaching out to friends in surrounding counties and national food justice coalitions, asking them to call in and urge the state to drop the suit. The case has drawn national attention. Meanwhile, organizers from far and wide are watching closely, hoping to launch similar initiatives in their own communities.

In addition to efforts at the local level, farmers and activists are attempting to tackle the government’s one-size-fits-all approach to food safety at the federal level. When US legislators voted to increase Food and Drug Administration inspections and reporting requirements for farms in 2010, more than 150 food groups succeeded in winning an amendment that provides some exemptions for small farmers.

“Foodborne illnesses don’t come from family agriculture,” says Senator Jon Tester from Montana, who co-sponsored the amendment.

Read more from Other Worlds here and their Harvesting Justice series here.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/20-3

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15 Tons of Cheese Trashed After Two Year Raw Milk Battle Ends and Sheriffs Called In to Carry Out Order

Agriculture, Farmageddon

The Blaze.com

Feb. 1, 2013 11:04am

A two-and-a-half-year fight over a batch of raw milk cheese produced in Howell County, Mo., ended last week when 15 tons of the unpasteurized cheese had to be taken to the dump, the KY3 reported.

The decision in Howell County was made by the State Milk Board. The board, which falls under the state’s department of agriculture was established in 1972 to “encourage orderly and sanitary production, transportation, processing and grading of fluid milk and processed milk products for consumption intrastate as well as interstate.”

The thousands of pounds of cheese in question made by Morningland Dairy was held during the more than two year legal battle after tests of the product showed harmful bacterial contamination. But the farmers believe it was wrongly tested.

The controversy of raw milk products is not limited to Missouri. Last year, it was reported officials from the California Health Department had visited the homes of raw milk customers to confiscate the unpasteurized products. Other states have seen regulatory issues with the dairy products, which are favored by many natural food fans, as well.

Missouri Farmers Cheese Stored for Two Years in Raw Milk Battle Ordered to Be Destroyed

Farmer Joe Dixon and the an officer from the sheriff’s department sent to carry out the court order to confiscate the cheese. (Image: YouTube)

Here the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit that supports the rights of farmers, chronicled the events leading up to the cheese destruction on its blog:

The Milk Board shut down Morningland’s manufacturing operation and ordered all cheese at the facility embargoed on August 26, 2010 after receiving a report from the California Department of Food and Agriculture that Morningland cheese seized in a raid of the Rawesome food club in Venice, California in June 2010 had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenesand Staphyloccocus aureus. Not a single block of cheese in the warehouse had the same batch number as the cheese seized in the Rawesome raid. A Milk Board inspector initially told Joe Dixon that he would only be shut down for a few days—but that changed when FDA stepped up their involvement in the case a short time later and pressured the Milk Board not to let Morningland resume their operations.

On October 1, 2010 the Milk Board sent the Dixons a letter requesting that they destroy the entire inventory of cheese at the facility; when the Dixons refused, the Milk Board filed a petition in the Circuit Court of Howell County to obtain an order for the destruction of the Morningland cheese.

After a two-day trial before Judge David Dunlop, the judge issued a decision on February 23, 2011 ordering the destruction of the cheese. Morningland appealed the decision but on September 27, 2012 the Court of Appeals sided with the Milk Board. A petition to the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case was rejected on December 18, paving the way for the destruction of the cheese to take place.

KY3 reported the Food and Drug administration tests of the cheese showed nothing out of the ordinary, while private testing showed both Staphylococcus aureus and listeria. Dixon said to KY3 that they requested a trial by jury and were denied as the rules governing the safety of the product were a regulation not a law.

This video by a friend of Dixon shows the milk board showing up on January 25 to confiscate the cheese. The county sheriff’s office is called in due to a group of protesters. Watch the nearly 15 minutes of mild confrontation that ensues between the officers and protesters:

There is more at:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/01/15-tons-of-cheese-trashed-after-two-year-raw-milk-battle-ends-and-sheriffs-called-in-to-carry-out-order/

CONTACT: Sheriff Mike Shannon (his deputy Al Jones on video)

                   417-256-2544  Main line

                   417-256-4102  Non Emergency line

admin@howellcountysheriff.org          

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Video: Heavily Armed Police Raid Organic Farm, Conduct Illegal Search

Agriculture, Farmageddon

 PNP comment: Looks like another Farmageddon. If their Sheriff understood the Constitution, his deputies wouldn’t be doing stupid stunts! — Editor Liz Bowen

October 10, 2012

Print Version

 Black Listed News.com

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Video%3A_Heavily_Armed_Police_Raid_Organic_Farm%2C_Conduct_Illegal_Search/21938/0/0/0/Y/M.html

By Kevin Hayden
TruthisTreason.net

On August 16th, 2012, in a sleepy Idaho farm town, heavily-armed members of the Gem County Sheriff’s Office conducted an illegal search of a residence after receiving a domestic violence complaint from a neighbor.

After pulling the occupants from the house at gunpoint, displaying rude and discourteous behavior, and then illegally searching the entire house, along with personal effects, deputies discover what they believed to be a marijuana “grow room.”  One intelligent deputy suddenly has an epiphany, as heard in the video below at 05:20, “We’ll need to get a warrant for this.”

Little late for that, eh?  Funny enough, the grow room turns out to be an aquaponics system for the couple’s organic tomatoes.

For video, go to above link on Black Listed News.com

But let’s back this scenario up a bit.

Police are enroute to a domestic violence complaint, and 911 transcripts indicate one deputy warning another that the subject of the complaint is a “Constitutionalist.”  Apparently, some of that Federal Fusion Center training did sink in!  It’s okay to politically profile those who follow the words on our Founding document.  Better gear up for a SWAT-entry!

While no records exist showing that the subject of the complaint – Michael Gibbons – is violent, or has ever been charged or arrested for violent offenses, the deputy feels the need to warn the others that, “there is [sic] weapons … He is – or at least was – anti-law enforcement.”

As a former police officer myself, I understand the need to warn fellow officers of potential threats, but I believe this was going a bit far; being a bit dramatic.

As for the character of those involved, I won’t comment: it has no bearing on the underlying issue here, and that is a couple was assaulted on incredibly flimsy probable cause, their house was searched in violation of the 4th amendment, state law, and department policy, and were politically profiled for being “Constitutionalists.”   If you consider yourself a Liberty-lover, this should be cause for concern.

Ironically enough, Michael Gibbons is a former police officer turned organic farmer.

In a country where gratuitous SWAT raids frequently result in state-sanctioned murder, this is a potentially fatal combination – especially when the subject of the raid is designated a “Constitutionalist” and thus regarded as an Enemy of the State.

Learn more by reading the whole story over at Freedom In Our Time ->

Related posts:

  1. Truth is Treason Update: Moved to a Farm, Lack of Internet, Organic Farm Project Apprentices

  2. Armed FDA, IRS and FBI Agents Raid Family Nutrition Store, Seize Everything for “Labeling Non-Compliance”

  3. Court Rules Pesticide Drifting Onto Organic Farm Constitutes Trespass

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