Jenny Samuelson was all set to do the deal dictated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: Dispose of nearly $5,000 worth of raw milk, cream, butter, eggs, and cheese. Under MDARD supervision, she was to bring the 250 gallons of milk to a neighboring farm, where the farmer would use it for fertilizer. The 10 gallons of cream and 20 pounds of butter would go in a dumpster. And the 100 dozen beautiful unwashed and unrefrigerated pastured eggs (raised without soy feed) would be smashed and turned into compost.
She would also discontinue all deliveries of cream and butter to herdshare members, despite their serious unhappiness about losing access to these foods.
But then the MDARD agents canceled out on the Saturday morning arrangements whereby they would observe the disposal of the food. They then said they would show up Monday morning. So she waits, and ponders her options.
Samuelson is pretty upset, as you might expect. She was trying to be an obedient citizen so she could have unfettered access to her refrigerated delivery truck and resume deliveries of raw milk. She had made the hard decision to go against what she feels is right and just, because she didnt want to risk any further interruption in deliveries for the more than 600 families around Michigan that depend on her food.
She is still smarting from last Tuesdays raid on her delivery truck in Washington Township, which saw agents from MDARD swarm aboard the delivery truck while it was stopped in a private parking lot, with her brother as driver. She thinks they had been following her and the truck for a number of day beforehand, and picked last Tuesday morning to do the raid instead of when she was driving, because they knew her brother likely wouldnt know to demand a search warrant, and the presence of the local sheriff or police before being allowed (or possibly not being allowed) to take people’s food.
They told her brother it would take an hour to look through the Co-Ops inventoryinstead it took six-and-a-half hours.
Later, the MDARD told her she was prohibited from giving the food to a farmer as feed for his pigs, since she didnt have a feed license.
Perhaps most significant, she doesnt feel they had the right to prevent the food from being delivered in the first place. They didnt seize my products, she says. They seized the consumers products.
Samuelson has been doing this drill for more than six years–during which time her co-op has grown from 20 members to more than 600– and knows the rules well. She says the cream and butter the MDARD was supposedly targeting were produced separately by the farmer from milk the members obtained as herdshare members, under contract to them individually. She also faults the special policy group that agreed with the MDARD last year in its policy statement that sanctioned herdshares for raw milk, but disallowed other raw dairy products. “I wasn’t allowed to have a voice in that,” despite her requests.
She wanted to feed the condemned food to Mark Baker’s pigs, or some other pigs, but state ag reps had told her she couldn’t feed the food to farm animals because she didn’t have a feed permit, and insisted the food be destroyed with MDARD agents watching.
Baker is the Michigan farmer who continued raising pigs the state considered wild, and he got the state to agree that he could continue raising the pigs after he sued the the Department of Natural Resources. He had a planned “Constitution Hall” program on slate for Sunday, at which Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff, will be discussing how the U.S. has veered from upholding its Constitution. Baker will be talking about his plans to run for Missaukee County sheriff. And there will be a pig roast for the many attendees expected.
Samuelson is going to have some very unhappy members based on her decision to refrain from delivering the raw cream and butter. They are very pissed, she says.
She is encouraging them to sue the state much like Mark Baker did. In the meantime, she is encouraging them to flood the MDARD with calls. Here are people she urges her members and sympathizers to contact:
Kevin Besey, director of the Food and Dairy Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (phone 517-582-1156 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tim Slawinski, Compliance Manager, Food and Dairy Division (phone 517-420-5364 or e-mail email@example.com)
In a letter to her members Saturday, she said: The only way we can get cream and butter back is to WIN this war! You the people can do it!
(This post was revised on Sunday, July 20, to update the situation.)