Now we’re told the Minnesota Department of Agriculture agent with the beret seizing people’s milk last Tuesday is a disabled veteran.

His name is Jim Roettger, and he’s also the guy who signed the search warrant that allowed the seizure of milk, and threatened Roger Hartmann with a “citizen’s arrest” if he tried to leave with his truck of milk before a search warrant was issued. 

I think the implication is that I’m supposed to feel badly for calling out a disabled veteran, “beating up on a handicapped guy,” as lawyer Bill Marler put it in a comment following my previous post. I guess I do feel badly, but what I feel worst about is that the entire struggle over access to nutrient-dense foods like raw milk has deteriorated to such a sad state that we’re even discussing the fact that the guy is possibly misusing his handicapped placard. I have no problem with a disabled veteran using a handicapped placard and getting whatever other considerations our society can offer for his sacrifice.

What’s important here is not to lose sight of why the Minnesota situation has deteriorated the way it has. Lykke wondered, quite logically, following my previous post, “Did you forget this farmer put a child in the hospital and produced raw milk under filthy conditions? How about doing some self-policing to save the tax payers from having to pay regulators to clean-up the mess.”Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Lykke is correct about the cause of illness, the suggestion about “doing some self-policing” is disingenuous at best.

No one has even had a chance to do any self policing or anything else constructive. The reason is that the state has responded to illnesses that may well be from raw milk, not by trying to help correct possible safety problems, but by going on a rampage. I don’t use the term “rampage” lightly. But since the public health authorities made a connection between a handful of illnesses from E.coli 0157:H7 and the Hartmann Farm last spring, the following has occurred:

* The buying club, Traditional Foods Minnesota, was shuttered, even though it had no connection to Hartmann.

* At least one other raw dairy, that owned by Alvin Schlanger, described in a comment following my previous post, was forced to shut down, once again despite not having any connection with Hartmann.

* The private home of a raw milk drinker was invaded by police and public health agents for two hours, and food was seized, and the end of that particular story has likely not been told, since the state could still take legal action against the family. 

* The Hartmann Farm has been shut down and not given a reasonable plan for how it can gain MDA approval for making raw milk available.

* Most recently, the agent Roettger led a raid to confiscate 400 gallons of milk and other food that had already been privately purchased by Minneapolis area consumers, and as Katie Davis points out, in accord with the Minnesota constitution.

The best I can do in characterizing what has happened is to call it collective punishment. It’s something the Israelis have become known for in trying to suppress terrorist actions: After an incident, the state bulldozes the homes and businesses of family members of a terrorist. Sometimes, the state goes further and destroys an entire village connected with terrorists. The purpose is intimidation, pure and simple. You destroy people who have some relationship to the original culprit in hopes that no one else will do anything like what the culprit was doing, in this case distribute or consume nutrient-dense foods obtained from local farms.

In Minnesota, the state is trying to terrorize farmers and consumers to abandon raw milk. A disabled veteran has become a symbol of America’s version of collective punishment. Marler asks,”This is WAR?” I’d say that’s as good a description as any, except it’s been totally one-sided aggression.  Minnesota’s farmers and consumers have been on the defensive for seven months. I’ll bet they’re going to wise up and begin fighting back.