Amos Miller Case Takes Ominous Turn

jacobwilliams

Jacob Williams, coordinator of the North Carolina food club associated with Miller’s farm.

A USDA investigation of Pennsylvania farmer Amos Miller’s meat production practices has taken an ominous turn in recent days, apparently morphing into a national dragnet to collect the food purchase records of thousands of food club members around the country.

One ray of hope for Miller: a federal judge in North Carolina last week questioned the scope of the USDA probe and indicated a desire to see it scaled back.

I have posted a number of reports on an investigation by the Food Safety and Inspection Office (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which issued subpoenas last spring for information from Amos Miller, supposedly based on a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in March tying milk from Miller’s farm to a death in Florida and a serious illness in California. When Miller refused to cooperate, citing his non-public operation, the USDA went to federal court, and obtained an order that Miller allow federal agents in to conduct “inspections” of his farm.

Those “inspections” over the summer turned into demands for members’ food purchase records, which Miller declined to provide, citing contractual requirements that he keep member information private. Most recently, the USDA has sought to hold Miller in contempt of court, and a hearing is scheduled on the contempt request November 1, in Easton, Pennsylvania.

While Miller and the thousands of food club members who have been following his problems have assumed that the USDA/FSIS investigation stemmed from the CDC report, it turns out that a second group within USDA–its National Organic Program (NOP), which sets standards for “organic” labeling—launched an investigation of a Miller-affiliated food club in North Carolina beginning in March 2015, well before the CDC issued its raw milk report. This USDA office issued a subpoena for information from the coordinator of that club, Jacob Williams, who works as an IT director of a private company, and volunteers as the club’s coordinator, taking orders and helping distribute the food. The NC group has more than 1,100 members.

What did the USDA/NOP want from Williams? Surprise—it sought all the club’s food purchase records going back to 2012.

When Williams refused to cooperate with the subpoena, based on the club’s non-public status, the USDA/NOP sought a contempt-of-court order against the volunteer. Threatened with potentially thousands in fines, and even jail time, Williams decided to provide the records. In advance of a hearing last week on the contempt order, Williams provided more than 2,600 pages of purchase records from 2015 to the present, showing food items purchased, but redacting member names and addresses (including city and state).

According to Williams, at the hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, NC, Judge Louise Wood Flanagan questioned the USDA/NOP official present about why the agency had gone after Williams rather than going after Miller. The official said the agency had attempted to go after Miller, but went after Williams instead when Miller refused to cooperate, Williams reported.

I inquired with Miller, who confirmed he had received a subpoena from USDA/NOP in 2013, questioning his use of the term “organic” in his farm’s name, Miller’s Organic Farm, since the farm isn’t certified organic. Miller says he responded by explaining that his farm operates privately, and didn’t advertise its products. When a second subpoena arrived in 2014, Miller requested an administrative hearing on the USDA/NOP concerns. He says he received a letter back saying an administrative hearing would be scheduled, but then nothing happened after that, except that he received another subpoena in 2015, which he answered by again requesting a hearing.

Williams told me that at his federal court hearing last week, he pointed out that none of the products Miller sells to members is labeled as “organic,” and that none of the purchase records show products described as “organic.” He said that when Judge Flanagan questioned the USDA/NOP official about where the investigation was going, the official said the agency plans to expand its inquiry by demanding purchase records from all food clubs affiliated with Miller’s farm. There are at least a dozen such clubs, with anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand members each.

Williams said the official didn’t provide any further explanation of what was behind the USDA/NOP investigation. At the direction of the judge, Williams negotiated with the USDA/NOP official about exactly how many additional records he should provide for the period 2012-2014. Williams told me that he and the USDA/NOP official agreed Williams will provide 50 representative records per year, or a total of 150 for the three years. This is much less than the nearly 5,000 records he actually has. If other judges similarly question the USDA’s motives in collecting so many records, the investigation could be hampered.

What are the two USDA offices after in seeking out the purchase records of potentially thousands of food club members, covering tens of thousands of purchases? Here are a few possible motives:

–Collect so many “offenses” that Miller is forced out of business. By seeking out so many purchase records, the USDA could seek to associate Miller’s with tens of thousands of alleged violations of USDA regulations covering meat slaughter or other areas. By attaching a fine to each violation, the total fine could be hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, which Miller couldn’t afford.

Set the stage for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many of the receipts the USDA is seeking include purchases of raw milk. The USDA could share that information with FDA, which could use it as the basis of its own investigation, and eventual penalties.

Intimidate food club members. It could be that the USDA wants to scare the rapidly increasing number of consumers joining Miller’s food clubs from associating with him. It may figure that many food club members will be afraid when they learn Big Brother is monitoring their food purchases, with unknown consequences. Additionally, it is clear that the USDA wants to scare people away from private food in general.

On this last possible motive, Liz Reitzig and Niki Adamkova, along with others, have organized the Real Food Consumer Coalition (RFCC) to empower groups of consumers to stand up for their food choices. The two women say RFCC is monitoring the Miller investigation. They encourage food club members and others who support food freedom to contribute to the RFCC crowd-funding campaign, which is designed to protect the rights of food club members.

 

34 comments to Amos Miller Case Takes Ominous Turn

  • Sea

    A state ag department advised me that they want buyers records in order to be able to notify people in case of problem with products.

    • I don’t believe that for one second. It is about threat, control of the food supply, removing competition from Big Ag and Big Food. If there ever was a problem, don’t you think members of a food club buying group would simply call/email other members to notify them of any suspected food safety issue?

      • David Gumpert David Gumpert

        Good point, Lynn. Moreover, the records Jacob Williams supplied were redacted–contact info blacked out, so no way they could be used to follow up on anything….except documenting product sales to members.

        • Amanda

          Plus, didn’t the USDA official even say to Amos that he didn’t need or even want the member info on the orders and that Amos was free to redact all personally identifying info from the receipts if he wanted to?

          • David Gumpert David Gumpert

            USDA said Amos could redact personally identifying info. But it wants city and state, presumably to confirm interstate commerce. What isn’t clear is why USDA needs all the records. Why wouldn’t just a few make its case….unless it wants to come up with many many charges/violations.

      • D. Smith D. Smith

        @ Lynn: I think you’re right about it being “control of the food supply”. But in the case of pasteurized milk the biGAG boys have all but cut their own throats and that of their dairy farmers. Still, those dairy farmers worship gubmint intervention and regulations up the kazoo. I find it impossible to connect with folks who think that way. Those gubmint pay/milk checks must be good even when the market isn’t . . . ;-o

        http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/10/25/dairy-industry-milk-glut.aspx

        And I would guess all this business about meat from the Amish is pretty much on the same wavelength – it’s about control and power.

  • Gary Ogden

    It will become worse when Hillary assumes office. The Clintons are a team with no core values at all, other than those associated with acquiring wealth. Almost makes a man want to vote for Trump, who is almost as awful in his own way. How do the dumbest bricks manage to reach the top of the pile? I’m thinking here of Obama, Dubya, and all the rest we’ve had since JFK.

  • Race

    For an Amish farmer with no computer the idea of redaction means scribbling on original documents , not some simple click of a key board or just running off a copy. Also to give original documents to the enemy might cause them to disappear and be used against the farmer in a farcical court case. As we all know the corporate giants have the regulators in their pocket and are probably using the regulators to throttle the independent farmers.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      I am similarly uncomfortable with the idea of handing over redacted documents, not only for the reasons you suggest, but simply because it sets a terrible precedent. In the Jacob Williams case, all identifying info was redacted. In the Amos Miller case, city and state info stays in. What will be the “guidelines” for the next demand?

      • Gordon Watson

        oh, spare us the fatuous objection that ‘ “Amish Amos” (c) …. a company dealing in ~=+million Federal Re$serve Note$ per annum … cannot afford a photocopier and a bottle of White-out (c) in order to comply with the minimum requirement of the Order of the Court’. You want me to accept that Mr Miller et al. don’t have a photocopier?! … perhaps in a stand-lone hut out in a field, like in some Amish compounds, with the landline telephone? IF so, then the way for the directing mind of the enterprise to submit to the Magistrate, is : employ a Shabbat Goy to go to town for them and get the job done… as they do when an Amish-man feels like going for a spin in one of dem new-fangled horseless carriages … he employs someone licenced by the State to engage in profanity.
        >>> the Campaign for REAL MILK is wasting moral capital and $$, sympathizing with Mr Miller, as he tries to have it both ways : using his religious costume as a disguise for evading laws of general applicability. >>>> what it will come down to – as already ruled-on by the Supreme Court of the US of A, is – “preference” versus ” conviction”. Mr Miller’s group has already proven its hypocrisy : compromising so as to interact with The World, when it = point by point, very subjectively, absent Scriptural authority = suits them. First and last : the tenet that “separation from “the English” is an essential tenet of obedience to their God”. Yet that preference is conspicuous in the breach, when it comes to trafficking in a currency predicated in usury. Those FRS notes being “conceived in sin, and born in iniquity”, as declared by Montague Norman …then, merely the head of the Bank of England. >>> unfortunately for all -concerned, the leaders of Miller’s cult are so dug-in to their error, that they cannot admit it. This case will take years to wend its way to the in-evitable tragic ending. >>> forget about quacking-back at me about ‘what a nice guy Amos Miller is. and how he means well.’ I am discussing legal principles, not his personality

        • vcragain

          The man is trying to earn his living like everybody else – and if he desires to provide a good product – well many people who want to drink ‘real’ milk thank him for that. It is a pity that the govt has to interfere with this farmer, but when they create regulations sometimes what they create is an ambiguous situation, and wars are created over their correctness, or not. So many human endeavors are suspect for their REAL intent, and this is yet another. The problem is created by certain humans having a distinct tendency to believe that everybody should just ‘fall in’ to whatever has been decreed as ‘correct’ or ‘right’ – these people threaten everybody else, in every field of life. It’s humorous to watch them, it’s always a conversation with heavy use of the word ‘SHOULD’ – when I hear that word I run a mile ! Sad to say Big Ag* is likely pushing because they only want their products in the market & will do anything at all to kill the competition ! I hope they will leave this farmer & his business alone !

  • Shana Milkie

    I’m sorry to hear of this increased pressure Amos Miller. It certainly is troubling that the USDA is asking for so many records. Of your list of possible motives, David, I think *all* of them are pertinent. This case affects all of us who opt to obtain food outside mainstream sources. We should be watching it closely and supporting Amos Miller and the Real Food Consumer Coalition.

  • mark mcafee mark mcafee

    Where is the consumer fight to take down the interstate ban on raw milk transportation, thus making most of what Amos is doing legal? He would still need to stop his organic claims or become certified organic by the USDA and get a raw milk permit like the rest of the 150 raw milk producers in Pennsylvania. In other words…there is no alternative reality in the private commerce world. Commerce is commerce when you sell to consumers. That is exactly what Amos did in Anaheim and it is exactly what he does on the internet and that is exactly why he is in trouble.

    If there was a coincidental political effort to change the laws….I guarantee that the FDA would take that into account and so would a judge. The FDA and any judge would see the grass roots efforts and tame their prosecution awaiting the outcomes.

    Of recent…I see no activity at all. All I see and hear is talk and blather. Much of the talk is very anti establishment and pro-anarchy.

    With that kind of reality….no progress came be made. We are a nation of rules and laws created by men and women. We have the power to do nothing or we can create change.

    Look at ourselves prior to critical comments about others or our government or rule of law. We are the constructive change machine, if we want to change America…..then we need to show up, stand up and speak up!

    • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

      Mark, You Americans (Canada is no exception) are burying yourselves in your rules and laws. You need to focus less on your ever-increasing rules and laws and more on the supreme law of the land; namely the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution… the Bill of rights.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      Mark, a few corrections. The assault on Amos Miller is being conducted by the USDA, over meat sales, and the term “organic”. As I say in the post, Miller’s makes no claim of “organic” for the foods he sells to members, either in the labeling or in the descriptions to members. The only use of “organic” is in the name of the farm, Miller’s Organic Farm; I doubt Amos Miller appreciated the regulatory ramifications of using that term when the farm was named.

      The assault on Amos Miller’s farm has nothing to do with raw milk, or the interstate ban, at least for now. It is about the private sale of food, under contract between farmer and consumer. The government doesn’t want to recognize that there is a private realm, apart from the public realm, where you and most food producers operate. It turns out there is very little case law covering the private sale of food.

      Not sure what you mean when you say you’re not seeing political maneuvering to “change the laws,” because there are no laws to change. Members of Miller’s food clubs assume protection under long-standing contract law, as well as the First Amendment’s guarantees of free association.

      There is a considerable amount of effort to mobilize consumers who want to buy their food privately–via the new Real Food Consumer Coalition and its crowdfunding effort to raise funds for a legal campaign to challenge the USDA’s assault on Miller’s farm, and on other private food distribution arrangements. So far, more than 300 people have committed in excess of $28,000. Is that what you consider “talk and blather”? I sure don’t, because talk is cheap, and hundreds of people are committing their hard-earned money to keeping the good food coming. If you want to chip in, here’s the crowdfunding site:
      https://www.gofundme.com/realfoodconsumerco

      There’s a hearing on the USDA’s contempt-of-court move next Tuesday, at 1:30 pm in PA. I expect a good number of members to be there in support. Here are the location details:
      U.S. District Court
      Holmes Bldg
      101 Larry Holmes Dr.
      Easton, PA

  • Mark Mcafee Mark Mcafee

    My hat is off to you and the others that are fund raising. Good to see the progressive activism.
    When you “use the word sale” you describe commerce. That means consumers and that means inspection and application of standards.

    Who inspects and tests Amos’s products? He sure does not. What standards are applied in production of products? There are no labels indicating what is contained inside each container. If you simply trust the farmer….that is a very weak standard. Maybe Amos is just fine, but if you create a new category of a “free for all commerce space”, I guarantee that there will be the scam artists that lie cheat and steal and make people sick. Standards to benefit ” we the people” has been the traditional role of government and or state agencies. Why can’t Amos simply get a permit like every other raw milk producer in Pennsylvania. At a very base level….what he is doing is simply unfair to those that follow the rules and regs.

    • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

      Mark,
      You state, “I guarantee that there will be the scam artists that lie cheat and steal and make people sick.”
      Hmmm… The typical excuse for increased bureaucratic, top down intervention and dare I add, an accurate description of CDC and FDA goons.

      Consider these words by Martin Luther King, Jr.
      “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” Indeed, and one might say, was “legally” supported and demanded conformity to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party; namely, his autocratic or inflexible way.

      Again you state “Why can’t Amos simply get a permit like every other raw milk producer in Pennsylvania…what he is doing is simply unfair to those that follow the rules and regs”. A simple answer to your question and statement… because he and his club members are entitled to freedom of expression and association (an inalienable right) without being pigeonholed for the sake of “fairness” as you suggest. If you and other raw milk producers want to follow “rules and regs”, then go for it. Amos and his club members however, have chosen rather to abide by a different view/philosophy that does not include conforming to a glaringly biased, corrupt, controlling, condescending and oppressive government bureaucracy. Indeed a bureaucracy that on many occasions have violated and demonstrated contempt for public safety.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      Mark, I recall several years ago when RAWMI was just getting started, a number of farmers and others questioned its ultimate intent. They worried that RAWMI would become an unofficial arm of the regulators. Nothing doing, you said. RAWMI was independent, dedicated to food freedom and choice…..and now, well, you sound pretty much like a lot of other uninformed regulators.

      In the Vernon Hershberger jury trial three years ago, the Wisconsin regulators tried the same argument you are using–“when you ‘use the word sale’ you describe commerce.” His private food club was no different from Costco and Sam’s Club, they argued. Fortunately, the jurors saw through the holes, recognized the rights of Wisconsin consumers to enter into private agreements with farmers, outside the public realm, and acquitted him of violating WI dairy laws.

      When you ask, “Why can’t Amos simply get a permit like every other raw milk producer in Pennsylvania?” you display terrible ignorance about what happens in Pennsylvania. Some dozens of dairy farmers there sell raw milk privately, without having a permit, via any number of food clubs, the largest of which is C.A.R.E., which has some thousands of members. (I describe it in some detail in my book, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Rights”.) I know you’re aware that the same phenomenon exists in California, where dozens of small dairies sell raw milk privately via herdshares.

      As for standards, and who has made more people sick over the last decade…..well, I don’t think you want to go down that road.

      • Gordon Watson

        when the Miller’s Organic pop-up shop rolled-in to San Francisco and set up at the Weston A Price conference, last year, was everyone who purchased some products ( shipped half-way ‘cross the continent, on spec., mind you) a member of Amos Amos’ private buying club ? >>>> Mr Miller et al. want it both ways. When it suits dem, they present demselves as oh-so-special = an ‘expressive association’, exempt from some laws other people have to obey – for instance / the Ponzi scam known as Social Security. But when the payoff is tempting-enough, religious scruples are revealed as just preferences. >>>>> Just a mere co-incidence the all-seeing eye adorns the Federal Reserve Note? Hardly : it’s the Eye of Horus, straight outta the Mystery Religion of ancient Eygypt. So, my question for the Amish, is : as thou traffick in those commercial notes = IN (which ) GOD ( do) WE TRUST ?

        • D. Smith D. Smith

          Not to get too far off subject here Gordon, but if you think Social Security is a “ponzi scheme” or a “scam” of some sort, it’s a scam on the part of the gubmint of the USA, not the people. People have, for many many years, had no choice about the fact that Social Security was withheld from their every pay check, like it or not. We were led to believe, by that very same gubmint, that this money was being set aside for us, the citizens of the USA, for our “old age”. They didn’t ever inform us that they were going to USE the money and that it wouldn’t be there or would be a questionable withholding when it came time for people to actually need/want their money back. Money that was probably then withheld illegally. I know there are many differing opinions on Social Security, but this is one that is not the fault of the people of this country. We just did as we were told. See where it got us? Yeah, I trust the gubmint to do the right thing . . . =8-O

          • Gordon Watson

            the essence of the scam run by Mr Ponzi, ‘way back when, was ; to use funds taken in from new investors, to pay out dividends to those whom he’d duped, earlier, as though he had some profitable enterprise going. The Social Security system in the US of A, as well as Social Insurance, in Canada, are nothing but bookkeeping frauds. Regardless of “differing political opinions”, at this very moment, the contingent liability for payments now coming due to baby-boomers, is beyond the ability of the US workforce, to generate. The thing is already bankrupt. >>> I mentioned it in passing, to make the point that the Amish volk won a major ruling in the Supreme Court of the US of A, exempting some of them from having to share the burden of Social Security deductions at source, borne by ( just about ) every taxserf. The mistake made by Amish Amos © and the eldership of his cult, was : thinking their religious guise allowed them to straddle the separation of church and state. They’re going to find out the hard way, how brutal the Babylonian system is, when it’s insulted

          • Gordon Watson

            what a world we live in! long-time readers of this forum will recall the debacle of RawSome Foods. One of the characters in that travesty – Sharon Palmer – is now at the sentencing stage, after years of grief through court actions. So = for the sake of attempting to finesse the financing of a farm, she and James Stewart are now court-certified felons. The capper , being : their “accomplice” in the wicked scheme [ that being ; to actually grow food and feed people ] Larry Otting, is guilty of “aggravated white collar crime.”

            people at the very grass-roots level, are imprisoned, shackled in literal chains, and ruined. Yet Banksters who steal Trillions, ride in carriages draped in chains of gold.
            all the while, THE single most infamous crook in Ham-merica, staggers toward the finish line – with a handler propping up each side of’er – after the ugliest election in living memory. Regardless of who ‘wins’ the mud-wrestling contest, the Director of the FBI better muster sufficient testicular wherewithal to put the evidence before a Grand Jury. I strongly recommend that, before casting a ballot, you inform yourself of what’s published in the latest issue of the National Enquirer. Rather than being installed in the highest office in the land, the Grand Dame of Degeneracy deserves to be in the Penitentiary for decades’ worth of crimes she committed …. up to and including Treason.

      • Emma Gardner

        “I know you’re aware that the same phenomenon exists in California, where dozens of small dairies sell raw milk privately via herdshares. ”

        But David, if they’re selling raw milk, then they are buying clubs, not herdshares. Herdshares involve livestock ownership by consumers. If you already own the animal, then the milk already belongs to you. You don’t need to buy it. Herd-leasing or “cow-rental” – where someone pays a fee to access the animal and then still buys the milk – is not herdsharing. Legally, the two are quite different, especially in Canada – a 2011 court ruling (R. v. Schmidt 2011 ONCJ 482) put that argument to bed.

        This is one reason why there is provincial government resistance to legalizing herdshares in Canada. Selling raw milk is illegal under both federal and provincial law, but some farmers sell the milk while calling it a herdshare, with cost of joining being more like a Costco membership fee than actual livestock ownership. So, governments very rightly label these arrangements as “scams.” You can call a pig a horse, but that doesn’t make it a horse.

        The “private agreements with farmers, outside the public realm” that you mention may work in the U.S., but can’t legally work in Canada, as all commerce in Canada is regulated.
        But Canadian farmers fall into the trap of believing that what works in the U.S. can work in Canada, not realizing that Canadian law is different.

        It IS possible to operate a herdshare in Canada without farmers selling raw milk. We’ve figured out how to do it.. It doesn’t involve “private agreements” or buying clubs. I’d be happy to share this information if others are interested.

        • David Gumpert David Gumpert

          Emma, thanks for your input about Canadian requirements for herdshares. You are correct, requirements in the U.S. tend to be somewhat different. In a few U.S. states, where herdshares are the only legal way to distribute raw milk (like Colorado, Michigan, and Ohio), requirements for herdshares vary. They are pretty strictly defined in Ohio, as herdshare boarding agreements, while in Michigan and Colorado are less specifically defined. In places like California, where herdsahres are commonly used, there is no officially understood definition of herdshares because the state has intentionally avoided their legality, leaving herdshares in a legal gray area.

          My main point in answering Mark McAfee was that the U.S. condones to varying degrees a variety of private arrangements. In some states, herdshares are specifically sanctioned, while in others, they are in a legal gray area. Private food clubs are another kind of contractual arrangement that tends to be in a gray area in a number of places, like Pennsylvania.

          My sense is that American states and federal agencies have preferred to keep food clubs and herdshares in a gray area because of fear the courts might rule against the government, based on the sanctity of contracts in the American legal system. It’s unclear why the federal government decided to pick on Amos Miller at this point in time to challenge private arrangements–my guess is that it has to do with the fact that demand for his food has grown substantially in recent years, to the extent that the private food model has begun to be viewed as a competitive threat to Big Food.

  • Amanda

    I donated to RFCC a few days ago, but just out of curiosity, how does this differ from FCLDF? …and why isn’t FCLDF helping Amos with his case? …or are they?

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      Amanda, RFCC is focused on protecting the rights of members of private food organizations, like food clubs and herdshares, as opposed to the farmers. FTCLDF is mostly focused on the protecting the rights of farmers and other food producers. I know Amos has had regular contact with FTCLDF, though I’m not certain what his exact relationship is with regard to his current legal problems.

  • Shawna Barr

    “Why can’t Amos simply get a permit like every other raw milk producer in Pennsylvania?” This question is so often the proverbial elephant in the room when discussing regulatory confrontations. Its one I have answered many times, and honestly, I am glad when someone asks me, provided that they really want to understand the answer. Sometimes the question is actually a statement, as in “You don’t have a license because you are a cheater or are a dirty-producer who wouldn’t qualify for a license.”

    But when the question is asked honestly, the answers can be a key to moving forward towards more freedom and access to the healing foods that consumers desire.

    And the answer is not straightforward. The reasons that farmers opt out of licensing vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from product to product, from farm to farm. But here are some of the more common reasons I have observed:

    * Licensing is not size-scale appropriate (requirements cost prohibitive)

    * No license exists for the production of the product that farmer wants to produce (e.g.. states where raw milk is totally illegal, or under license the farmer can sell raw milk, but no yogurt, kefir, etc.)

    * License restricts sale of products in the manner needed to be financially viable (such as over state lines, or only off-farm and no advertising,etc)

    * Farmer has a philosophical opposition to licensing

    Of these, the “philosophical” opposition is most rare, although many farmers eventually get there after banging their head into the wall with regulations that don’t work and don’t fit.

    I agree with Mark that the way forward is to actually change laws. I personally do not know how to do that. As we know, the process is arduous, expensive, and often unsuccessful. Many farmers, like me, would LOVE the opportunity to work with regulators and reform regulations that don’t work, and replace them with ones that do. But that desire is not typically mutual on the part of regulators and lawmakers, nor is the process straightforward.

    So often, farmers do just opt out and hope for the best, because they are tired of waiting for regulatory change that may never happen, and do not have the time to fight for such change. They want to get their food to their customers now.

    RAWMI, in the case of raw milk, allow raw milk producers, regulated and un-regulated, to voluntarily conform to the “spirit of the law”, which is responsible risk management and food safety, even if not to the letter for the law. And, initiating an effort like RAWMI does not require legislative process, lawyers, and battles with the dairy lobby. The founders of the organization quit waiting for the government to provide standards and support for safe raw milk production, and just did it themselves.

    • Brigitte

      Good Grief woman ^^^^
      You say you agree with Mark that “the way forward is to actually change laws. I personally do not know how to do that. ”
      The very nature of what we do is rooted in regulation and its discussions. You change the laws by getting involved in the legislative process, not dashing off thoughts in the cyberworld. That means hearings, and it means sizing up the enemy (often the Farm Bureau more than the Dept of Ag) and it means getting others to have a voice in what the country was founded on- a government that must be by the people and for the people. It means letting the government know that you want change- not just talk

    • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

      Throughout the course of human history food production was based on desire and need, which in turn became more and more based on cultural norms or tradition. Rarely, (unless for religious purposes) did food production conform to the “letter of the law”.

      “Responsible risk management and food safety” as it pertains to microbes is a relatively new term that focuses on their so-called harmful effect on human and animal health. It represents an epic in time that epitomizes the human obsession with control. Indeed, a toxic, destructive and unhealthy fear based obsession as a result of a misapplication of the germ theory and a lack of respect for natural process that has done the human race and all life on earth more harm then good.

      Much of the food and drink that we enjoy today was developed back in the day when unseen microbes were yet to be defined let alone feared… albeit, they were unknowingly taken advantage of and used in order preserve food and increase palatability. In other words humans had no idea that microbes and enzymes were responsible for turning, their grapes into wine, their cabbage into sauerkraut and their milk into cheese and yogurt etc. In fact the human race appeared to thrive more or less as long as they respected natural process.

      In an interview with Katherine Ashenburg for her book entitled, “The filthy, stinking truth”. Ashenburg states, “I’ve studied 28 centuries, and the pendulum was always swinging back and forth. It’s at such an extreme now of overcleanliness that I can’t help thinking it is moving back… it’s not good for our health to have robbed ourselves of all these bacteria with which we have had a pretty fruitful coexistence.”
      http://www.salon.com/2007/11/30/dirt_on_clean/

      Indeed “robbed ourselves” via government laws, regulation and licensing.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      There are really four basic ways to change laws. One, as you suggest, involves going through the legislature and getting changes to laws, or new laws. But it’s also possible to make changes through the courts. The courts can declare existing laws unconstitutional or, when there are few laws covering a particular area, like the private sale of food, the courts can render legal opinions that serve as something like new laws. Finally, the executive branch can issue orders, as Michigan’s attorney general did in legalizing herdshares in that state a few years ago. Finally, it’s possible to use civil disobedience to force the courts or legislatures or executive branch to change laws (the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s is the most famous American example).

      RAWMI serves a very useful purpose, especially as you describe it. But there are a number of ways to skin this cat, and we need to be careful not to get locked into one particular means, and be scornful of all others.

      • liskir

        People who truly want, deserve justice, must learn to be man/woman in a common law court of record and be sui juris. Youtube Karl Lentz, common law

        Trinsey v. Pagliaro, D.C. Pa. 1964, 229 F. Supp. 647, “Statements of counsel are not facts before the Court,” see FRCPA Rule 52(a) and United States v. Lovasco (06/09/77) 431 U.S.

  • Lee Lawrence

    The powers-that-be do not want food freedom or food independence. Google “Agenda 21” for one instance of planned food control that has been going on for many years already.

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