The 31 famous rare sheep suspected by Canadian public health authorities of harboring the feared scrapie disease have all been found, slaughtered, and tested free of disease.
But the affair of the missing Shropshire sheep–kidnapped earlier this year by a mystery group known as the Farmers Peace Corps, opposed to the government agenda of summarily disposing of the rare sheep on suspicion of harboring a pathogen–is still alive for the authorities. They are preparing to charge Ontario raw dairy farmer Michael Schmidt with serious crimes in the case, which involved relocating the sheep from the farm of Montana Jones. Schmidt took on the role of mediator between the government and its opponents, but the government clearly sees Schmidt as having been an important part of the sheep-relocation scheme.
Yesterday, Schmidt wrote me that “Canadian Authorities have finally issued a warrant for my arrest. I have to surrender by Thursday (tomorrow) but will be released on a promise to appear in court on January 23. In order to face charges of conspiracy in regards to the lost sheep.”
Schmidt’s long journey of resistance to North American infringements on food rights is entering a new phase.
I would expect most of us here have dealt with difficult family discord at one time or another. Sometimes it comes out in the process of divorce. Sometimes it comes out in battles over estates of deceased relatives. Sometimes it’s the result of a hurtful quarrel of some sort, but the result is similar– close relatives become so angry with each other, they stop speaking, and even takelegal actions against others in their family.
Something like the latter scenario seems to be playing out in the family of Arlin Bender, the Wisconsin butcher being accused by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) of illegally helping his Mennonite neighbors slaughter cattle. It seems a daughter of Bender,whom he says he is estranged from, took it on herself last April to write the Wisconsin judge hearing his case and take issue with many supportive statements Bender’s friends have made on his behalf.
The daughter, Doris Bender of Pennsylvania, wrote Judge Jon Counsell that supporters had submitted letters to the court in which “he was described as being willing to obey and comply with the laws of New York State, where he had lived for most of his life. Sad to say, but his children do not know him as being willing to comply. What they know is an individual who tried to get away with as much as possible and if/when he got caught, would grumble loud and long about ‘such stupid laws.’ Eventually he would comply.”
The letter suggests upset that Bender hasn’t provided more financial support to his daughter. “Those letters also describe him as being compassionate and ready/willing to help those in need. If this is indeed the case, then, why do some of his childen struggle to pay large medical bills? His children do not receive any assistance.”
Doris Bender adds this: “Doeshis family want to see him go to jail? No. Do they want to see him pay large fines? No. Do they feel that he has disobeyed the laws of the State of Wisconsin? Yes.”
Sound familiar? The language is very similar to that used by an individual commenting anonymously following my December 1 post about Bender’s case (signed as “nonameplease“).
Arlin Bender says he has seven children, and Doris is the only one he is on the outs with; he says Doris remains on good terms with her mother, Arlin’s wife.
I would have preferred not to write about such a sad family occurrence. But I thought it appropriate in this situation, since Doris Bender’s letter is not only a matter of public record, but has been used to further accusations against Arlin Bender, not only in court, but via comments on this blog.