When officers from the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio arrived last Monday at the Manna Storehouse food cooperative in LaGrange with weapons drawn and trained on Katie Stowers and her children, along with her in-laws, there was one member of the family missing.
Katie’s husband, Chad, is a U.S. Navy Seabee, helping in construction projects in the midst of combat in Iraq. He’s been there, separated from his family, for the last five months, supposedly protecting our rights from abuse—the sort of abuse that appears to be taking place on an ever-more-frequent basis at farms and food outlets around the country.
I should point out that Katie didn’t broadcast the information about her husband to me—I inquired about it after she had to interrupt our telephone conversation to take a call from Chad in Iraq. Presumably, she was updating him about the raid he missed, in which sheriff’s deputies, together with food inspectors from the Lorain County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, herded the family into a home living room, and kept them under the guard of armed officers for about seven hours, while they executed a search warrant, taking food, cell phones, three computers, and business records. I asked Lorain if she was aware of the irony of her husband putting his life on the line in Iraq, while she was being held at gunpoint in her home by American law enforcement officials, and she said, “It occurred to me.”
The reason for the heavy-handed treatment? That’s not certain, since Lorain County officials won’t comment, except to say they are conducting “an investigation.” Katie Stowers says the only reason she’s aware of is a possible disagreement over whether the cooperative should be licensed as a retail establishment. A year ago, county health department officials arrived wanting to do an inspection, which the Stowers refused to allow, pending receipt of a written explanation. “We sent them a letter, asking why. We never received a response”…until Monday.
Manna Storehouse describes itself as a “natural food co-op” that has been supplying members with beef, turkey, dairy products (including pasteurized and unhomogenized milk; photo above from its web site), and other products, for the last nine years. The Stowers family’s experience last Monday has been described on a few web sites, including this one.
Katie Stowers said the account is pretty much accurate. She says the officials showed up with a warrant, but that they didn’t identify themselves or say why they were there. “We don’t know who it was.”
The raid appears to have been launched under the auspices of the Lorain County Health Department, which sent food inspectors. It involved the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which had two employees there “in a supportive role,” according to a Lorain County Health Department employee, Joyce Davis. And then there were the armed guys from the sheriff’s office. The health department referred me to the Lorrain County prosecutor, Dennis Will, for more information, but he didn’t return my call.
It’s getting so that such heavyhanded raids on peaceful farmers and natural food distributors, which have long been exceptions in this country, are getting to be the rule. We’ve seen them in the cases of Gary Oaks in Cincinnati, Richard Hebron in Michigan, Mark Nolt in Pennsylvania, Nature’s Juice Co-op in Illinois. And as we saw in the Meadowsweet Dairy case, judges don’t seem to care any more about abuses of search warrants and questionable seizures of goods. (For background on cases I alluded without links, there are multiple postings, accessible via the search function.)
I suspect the Lorain County officials figured this was just another case of weirdo foodies, and neglected to consider that even weirdo foodie family members fight for their country in faroff lands.
This story just gets better and better, or worse and worse, depending on your perspective. Do you suppose any major media would carry this? Nice journalistic touch you’ve added.
One way to possibly interest major media is to post the link and/or summary on other sites that media people monitor. One such is http://www.digg.com. Another is for people in Ohio to alert their local TV stations and newspapers.
Where is the OUTRAGE in America today? It seems like our fellow citizens are not just asleep but COMATOSE, how shall we awaken them?
"THE ENEMY WITHIN IS MORE TO BE FEARED THAN THE ENEMY AT THE GATE"
CICERO 42 BC
Why is it ok to add chemicals to foods, especially chemicals that are harmful? Why is it not ok to concume raw dairy? 10mg a day of a chemcial may not harm you, but what about accumulation? And most chemicals do accumulate in your body somewhere. if the chemicals are in the foods and it is not posted on the product, isn’t that misleading? (I don’t know the correct term) That could be dangerous for those who are sensitive. Like MSG, many have unpleasant reactions, yet it is not always labeled. How is this legal? How is this "protecting" the people?
It is appauling what our govt does and gets away with. I thought it was illegal to terrorize US citizens, especially on US soil? When did the laws change? Yes, there should be outrage, it should be screaming loudly. That behavior should not be acceptable.
When I worked in a large southern city, it seemed many of the educators and police dept employees were on psych medications. It was not a comforting revalation. I would guess that many in this country alone are on the "psych meds" and that encourages the lethargy that we see. As said, many don’t react until it hits them directly, yet many don’t stand up for what they believe, they seem to accept whatever flimsy excuse that comes thier way. Perhaps the drugs contribute to this attitude?
Awaken them? Wish I had an answer for that.
The beef makes me wonder if they are selling cuts of beef directly to consumers and it’s not being slaughtered and packed at approved facilities. I know when I buy beef, I buy the whole animal, live and kicking. I hire a guy to slaughter it and that same guy trucks him to the meat locker of my choice where they process it. If I wanted to sell the beef I would need a different arrangement. Could this be the issue with Manna Storehouse? Brokering live cattle might be OK, cuts of beef maybe not. I don’t know Ohio law or what beef they were actually selling, so I am just thinking out loud here.
Do you have the beef shipped to a processing place because you don’t have room? Or is that a requirement of the law? I would assume that there is no law stating that you cannot slaughter and process your own meats on your proprity.
I realize that there is more to the above story that David wrote about. The victims appear to have been subject to excessive terroristic methods.
The Stowers are reported to be consulting with their attorneys and deciding on a public statement, and it should be their right to control and decide the timing and exactly what information is released to the media.
The Meat Inspection regulations are in Chapter 918 of Ohio’s Revised Agriculture Code:
There are strict requirements for "exemptions"
And, as far as the use of law enforcement during the "action," things changed after the murder of USDA and state inspectors in 2000 at a meat/sausage plant. Sadly, due to the violence, I don’t think it is taken for granted by regulators that anyone is just a "peaceful farmer."
Santos Linguisa Factory – Scene of Triple Homicide
Sylvia — We could take care of the meat on site but I’d rather have someone do it who knows what she’s doing. We hire a butcher for the butchering and then hire another party for the cutting and wrapping. It’s our steer/lamb/etc and our personal stash of meat. My understanding is that if we wanted to sell it, we would need a different arrangement.
What is most likely happening here is that the food cooperative existed privately, and therefore did not involve themselves with government via permits, fees, inspections, and all the rest. That, in the mind of big brother, is an unforgivable sin, and warranted an armed raid.
The Community Alliance for Responsible Eco-farming (CARE), a private group of farmers and consumers in Pennsylvania, recently released a statement regarding the relationship between private citizens and constitutional government. Their position is basically that the government has a right to control and regulate what the government creates. If, for example, the government creates a corporation (essentially conferring person status to that entity) then it has every right, every duty even, to oversee it. But men are not artificial entities created by government. Men are natural, and when they act as private citizens, government must stay out of their way. In fact, government is supposed to protect citizens from the actions of any entity that might inhibit the free exercise of their natural rights. When government does otherwise it blurs the line between private and public, effectively deeming EVERYTHING public, and thus making constitutions irrelevant.
Here’s a bottom-line quote from CARE’s statement: […these agencies have] no constitutional authority to require a permit for direct private sales conducted anywhere by private individuals, involving private property, using private contracts.
I agree with CARE’s position, and think that anyone who truly believes in constitutional government ought to agree as well.
Now I don’t want to put words into An Observer’s mouth or anyone else’s, but I wonder… When we read Observer’s statement regarding meat inspection regulations, that "There are strict requirements for ‘exemptions’ " does a thought arise, something along the lines of, "Oh! The Stowers didn’t follow the rules?" They must be guilty, and the government therefore has a right to go after them!"?
That might be a likely response today, but I would suggest that a constitutional perspective ought to produce a very different view. Amanda shouldn’t "need" any third party permission to sell her meat openly, fairly, honestly, and privately, especially if that permission costs money or time, and especially if disobeying that third party might result in a police action.
We are talking food here. Who should be making the choice about what to eat except the one who is eating it?
Perhaps Mark is right that these are the seeds of revolution.
I think that Mark McAfee is correct.
I was just following-up on Amanda’s speculation, and have no knowledge of the specifics. Suppose that is what’s going on (and in follow-up to your comment about the constitution)…it appears direct sales are not exempt from inspections or other "3rd party involvement:":
A) Chapter 918. of the Revised Code does not apply to any of the following:
(1) A person who slaughters or prepares animals on his farm, or has animals slaughtered or prepared for his personal or family use and sells no meat products of such animals;
(2) A retail dealer or retail butcher who sells only meat or meat products that have been inspected in compliance with Chapter 918. of the Revised Code, directly to household consumers in retail stores;
(3) Any establishment that is subject to federal inspection.
If unconstitutional, what is the process to challenge it? Regulators are going to enforce the laws as long as they are in the code.
Also, the point of bringing up the "Sausage King" case was to point out that the "law enforcement presence" may have been to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
In terms of the Manna Storehouse case, I have no idea what the structure was or if it was legal, but I hope that if they do become the CARE posterchild, they went into it with eyes open. I can appreciate revolutionaries but for those who aren’t, it would be good if they could make a living in the current system such as it is.
Is this an accurate description of the "event"?
Also, an Observer’s citation of a 2000 incident in which three government inspectors were murdered makes a good case for government coming in with weapons drawn. I would argue that inspectors shouldn’t use an eight-year-old case to decide every other situation. In the 2000 situation, the murderer had a history of violence. The Stowers didn’t, nor did any of the other people I’ve written about who’ve been handled roughly by the cops.
In fact, if a farmer or co-op manager refuses a government search request, that seems to be taken as a warning sign of violence…as if exercising your constitutional rights is un-American. After all, why shouldn’t you want government agents rummaging through your business and personal effects? That’s how warped things have gotten.
One question I’d like to ask everyone in regards to Constitutional rights is…have any of you heard of the United States Corporation? I’ve just started researching this, so I may not understand it correctly – if anyone has any more info on this, please let me know.
"An Act To Provide A Government for the District of Columbia", also called the Act of 1871, formed a corporation called THE UNITED STATES. The Act of 1871 also changed the wording of the Constitution, from ‘The Constitution for the united states of America’ to ‘THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’. The change of the word FOR to OF is significant, as are the capital letters (I don’t really know why at this point, it’s a legal thing, I think).
Now, think about what government is, and what a corporation is. Government cannot generate its own revenue, only what it can generate in taxes. And if the government raises the taxes too high, the people tend to get restless. A corporation, on the other hand, can take out loans and sell stock. The 14th Amendment, from 1868, specified that everyone is a ‘citizen of the United States’, or property of the United States Corporation.
You are property of the Corporation. That’s why you have to register your birth, your death, your marriage, your car. There is no private property rights, you only ‘lease’ your property from the Corporation, that’s why you have to pay for the privilege to use it.
Corporations can sell stock to generate capital. The United States Corporation sells Treasury bonds to the likes of China and other countries to raise money for their programs and wars. The collateral on these loans? YOU ARE, since you are the property of the Corporation.
Now think about it. All those elected officials, from the President down to the local police. They don’t work for the government, the WE THE PEOPLE, they work for the Corporation, and employees of a Corporation always work in the best interest of the Corporation. Why is it that our elected officials don’t listen to us? Because they don’t work for us!
If anyone can prove me wrong, please do. If this is true, as I suspect it is (though I will admit I haven’t yet had time to read the Act of 1871 for myself), then what we all need to do is reclaim our rights as sovereign individuals under the original Constitution. Their unconstitutional laws then don’t apply to us.
I know some of you will say this is far-fetched, and will advocate that we reform the system ‘from within’. I’m sorry to inform you that that will never happen. Those in power will NEVER voluntarily give power up. We need a mass understanding of THE TRUTH. Didn’t a wise man once say, the TRUTH will set you free?
Here you go Cheryl, I haven’t had a chance to read any yet. Hadn’t heard of it till you mentioned it. Is it referring to just DC?
I have a feeling things will become much worse before getting better.
You might enjoy some of these videos.
Video # 1 UGH
Video # 2 " fiat money = war" I have posted before that modern warfare cannot be conducted without fiat paper money. Oh if only our prior generations would have adhered to the law of the land THE COINAGE ACT OF 1792 we have paid dearly for that failure.
I hope others that see your post would watch and ponder the plight we are all in. And read the The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Coinage Act of 1792
Re this: If unconstitutional, what is the process to challenge it?
That is a very good question, and one that I am unqualified to answer. But the thought is tantalizing, isnt it? To set a precendent that the government has no business controlling private lives or private property would be to grasp the tip of an immense iceberg, and by that tiny handle withdraw it from its murky depths for all to see.
Regarding the Coinage Act of 1792, it is worth noting that the Act specified in great detail how coins were to be produced, including the weight of precious metal in each coin. The Act also (in Section 19) made debasing those coins a felony, punishable by death.
Needless to say, no official has yet been hung.
I definitely think you should inform your colleagues–not necessarily to blow their minds, but to let them know that lots of people are very upset about what has happened, and to encourage them to provide an explanation, or their version of events. Some may want to add their comments to this blog.
our food is something they feel they must control – that is how you control the cattle. How many are going to stay sheeple and how many are going to wake up
There was no SWAT team there. They had one uniformed patrol officer who wore a black-style uniform who is assigned to a warrants unit, but thats his daily uniform. There were no guns held to anybodys head. …"
Does anyone know if the Stowers posted an official statement yet?