Stunned disbelief and fear has turned into angry resistance for some of the New Jersey raw milk moms who received surprise “cease-and-desist” letters from the state’s Department of Health two weeks before Christmas.
At least four moms and their families have either let the agency know in writing that they deny its accusation that they are engaged in “a distribution scheme” and won’t comply, or they have simply ignored the state’s letter.
Some unknown number of other families—probably between a half dozen and a dozen— have acceded to the state’s demand that they stop allowing their homes to be used as drop sites for raw dairy and other food from a Pennsylvania dairy. But even those that have gone along with the state’s demand have formally denied guilt of any of the state’s accusations, thus leaving the door open to changing their positions in the future.
“These are false accusations,” says Mihaela Stiso, the mother of one child in Manchester Township, in southern New Jersey. She wrote the NJ Department of Health to that effect, and plans to continue allowing neighbors and friends to pick up milk from her home.
“It’s just not okay what they (NJ Department of Health) are doing. It’s not normal.”
Another mom, of three children, in northern New Jersey, who didn’t want her name used, said, “I don’t think we are doing anything illegal.” She echoed the sentiment of others when she said she is more afraid “we could lose all this good food” than she is worried about action by the state.
A third mother, of two children in central New Jersey, said she was “choosing to ignore” the state order.
The resisting moms and their families have been encouraged by word they are getting from lawyers that the New Jersey action contains a number of potential legal holes, beginning with the state’s demand that the accused residents respond within five days. The cease-and-desist letters didn’t indicate whether the response was expected within five days of the letter’s date, or five days after receipt of the letter, but either option is generally considered an unreasonably brief period of time by many legal standards.
The big mistake made by the New Jersey food clubs seems to have been putting much of their organizational information onto a public web site, which was easily viewable by state regulators. That information has since been taken down.