Last February, a Wisconsin judge imposed a temporary injunction prohibiting Arlin Bender from slaughtering cattle and pigs on behalf of neighboring farmers, at the request of the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). In July, the judge followed up by extending the injunction for a year.
At a hearing on Monday, the judge will hear arguments that his orders have been a serious violation of Wisconsin law.
In both court actions, DATCP said Bender was operating without a license, and without the proper facilities and a state judge, Jon Counsell, agreed. In October, I wrote about Bender’s ordeal trying unsuccessfully to defend himself in several court appearances, where he maintained he was operating on a private basis for individual farmers, at their request and on their property.
The temporary injunction and followup restraining order gave DATCP the authority to inspect Bender’s property whenever it wanted. In mid-November, DATCP said it wanted to come over. It turned out to be a particularly bad time for Bender, who is a Mennonite, and many of his Mennonite neighbors. The two-year-old child of a neighbor had drowned, and relatives and friends were pouring in for the funeral. Bender was putting many of them up at his home, and understandably didn’t want state inspectors prowling around.
Bender told a DATCP official about the situation, and requested a delay in the inspection. Nothing doing, replied the DATCP people. So a friend of Bender’s got in touch with the local sheriff, and explained the situation. The sheriff called DATCP and warned the agency that no sheriffs would be available to accompany a DATCP inspector, and besides, DATCP people weren’t welcome to do an inspection on that day.
DATCP backed off in the face of such official local opposition, and delayed its inspection until earlier this past week. Nearly simultaneous with the inspection, DATCP filed a motion in state court seeking a permanent injunction. In other words, the agency was pushing to shut down forever the 58-year-old butcher, who has been plying his trade for 40 years.
What’s the rush? And does DATCP even have the backing of the law for such a drastic action? Those are some of the questions Bender is asking. Or rather, the questions his lawyer, Elizabeth Rich of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, is asking. See, Bender now has legal representation for the first time.
Rich has written a brief arguing that DATCP has gone way beyond its authority in demanding that Bender obtain a license to slaughter animals, and that the two orders issued against Bender, along with the permanent injunction being sought, are illegal. She says Wisconsin law exempts certain mobile processing activities of the sort Bender is involved with.
Even more important, she says, Wisconsin law doesn’t limit Bender to slaughtering animals for only his personal use. “If Mr. Bender receives hides as barter for mobile processing, he has not violated the law. If Mr. Bender slaughters an animal on the premises of a person who owns the animals to be slaughtered, and the resulting product is for the exclusive use of the owners, members of the owner’s household, and his or her nonpaying guests, then he has not violated the law. If Mr. Bender processes animals to be used for himself, members of his household and his nonpaying guests and employees, he has not violated the law. Yet any of the foregoing activities could arguably violate the terms of the Temporary Injunction and the proposed Permanent Injunction.”
Rich has argued that Bender deserves a trial to make his case. In the meantime, “There is no urgency, or rational basis, for denying Mr. Bender in court while permanently depriving him of his livelihood. Based on the foregoing analysis,, we would recommend modification of the Temporary Injunction to ensure that it does not impose obligations upon Mr. Bender that exceed applicable legal requirements.”
Bender is encouraging supporters to attend his hearing Monday, at 1:15 p.m. It is at the Clark County Courthouse, 517 Court Street, Room 301 in Neillsville, Wisconsin (phone 715-743-5150). There are 50-75 seats in the courthouse, and Bender would like to see the place packed.
I can understand if the meat is going to be sold, just like raw milk ever farm/farmer is different. Some have a really nice stainless set up with all the bells and whistles, others use chainsaws. So for the resale to the public, maybe some standards should be put in place.
But if it is a neighbor or another person who is fine with the person doing the processing, where it is being done, and it is for their own use, the state should just butt out.
There are other uses for tax dollars. And this guy can’t be costing anyone all that much money anyway.
Besides, we need butchers who can teach the next generation how to cut up animals or we will all be in trouble.
Rationality regularly gets trampled in legal proceedings, as does common sense. I’d love to sit in when these pivotal judgement souls explain their grand decisions to their kids or grandkids over a holiday turkey, and factory food side dishes.
My father-in-law owned a speakeasy in NYC during the prohibition era, and he could tell you some really fine stories around the fireplace about law enforcement.
Butchering is becoming a lost art. And you may not be sure of what you are getting from the store…. glued meat, mystery meat, etc… http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/iteam&id=8888921
My daughter bought a pork roast the other night, I went to shred the left overs and they were unshredable. Now I question what it was we ate.
It would seem “inherently wrong” to expect a judge to overrule himself. The main hope in this case is that the judge didn’t have the benefit of hearing from a lawyer representing the accused. The brief Elizabeth Rich has written on behalf of Arlin Bender explored the Wisconsin statutes covering slaughter and sale of meat, and identifies exceptions that appear to cover Bender…and which the judge may well simply not have been aware of previously. DATCP, after all, wasn’t about to explain the limitations on its power–it was out to grab as much power as it can get away with.
Completely agree on the “wasn’t about to explain the limitations on its power” – never expect a 3-legged dog to chop off another leg, unless you are making a Monty Python movie.
There is something wrong with the brain and heart matter in Wisconsin. Something so deeply sick and un human that the assumption that regulator humanity still exists in Wisconsin is in serious question.
The place needs to be gutted and every damn regulator needs to reapply for his or her job under a peoples mandate for justice and a reality check. That really says something of the people of Wisconsin…why do they tolerate it? In CA they do not tolerate this brand of crap. Is it the water? Is it the weather? Is it something about the culture? Where are the balls to protest and hold the regulators responsible to the people. Who runs the place? It appears that being passive certainly has not worked. The Amish and Mennonites may fear god….but their passivity to the government is a bad trait. It allows the regulators to run all over them. We must look at ourselves to truly discover who allows these attrocities to occur. We the people…have become lazy and disengaged. We the people get what we allow others to serve us.
We the people….
While I can understand why some individuals are upset and are saying that Mr Bender hasn’t done anything wrong……..I would have to say that I disagree.
Mr Bender does slaughter animals (that are not for his own use) on his property. And he does it without a license. And according to my understanding of the Wisconsin meat cutting laws, by doing this, Mr Bender is indeed in violation of the law.
I have no problem with custom meat cutting shops, but there are laws that need to be followed in such situations as well. Mr Bender has not followed the Wisconsin state guidelines for custom meat cutting shops.
I also do not have a problem with a neighbor helping another neighbor cut up their animals that need to be put down. But if/when there are laws for such cases (which I understand that Wisconsin has); then, they need to be followed.
I personally feel that the real issue in this case is not the meat cutting/helping a neighbor, but rather the violation/disobedience of the law. I commend the state of Wisconsin for endeavoring to do their job.
Oppressing the powerless and weak and small while enriching the big ag/corporations that line their coffers while working for the government, and/or rewarding them with cush jobs upon their exit from pilfering the public taxpayer.
Yep, all these various government agencies do an excellent job selective enforcing the law and writing regulations that exempt their corporate task masters (like NAIS) to ensure that big money, big gov, big pharma, and big corporations have as little competition as possible and people have as little economic choice as possible, all while destroying communities and people’s ability to provide for themselves and their neighbors, thereby making them even more dependent on government.
Yep, they are doing an admirable job, if one admires the worst of all of history, the Stalins, the Hitlers, and the rest of their ilk. I suggest you rethink who you are commending and why.
This is not a statement that shows that I have taken leave of my senses.
It is rather a statement regarding the level and extent of corruption in these areas.
I have no problem with law as such- we need stability, and we need a “level playing field.”
But the old saying holds: if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
We depend, each and every one of us on one anothers’ integrity. This becomes increasingly critical when you reach higher and higher levels of delegated authority. These &!@#!! politicians and the imbeciles that approve them with their votes are an ignorant, puerile lot. Of course there are politicians that aren’t &!@#!! as there are lawyers and courts that are not &!@#!!. A corporation would be insane to not seek to influence the legal terrain since the legal terrain is going to influence the corporation. Who thinks that those in government were hit with a stick that made them somehow perfect and not human? If you believe that to be so or operate as though that is true, then you, sadly, make me laugh.
We need corporations. We do not need &!@#!! corporations. Are we going to run out of petroleum? The laboratory proven and commercial field tested Russian-Ukrainian theory of petroleum genesis says: no, petroleum is being continuously generated by subterranean processes and it is not going to “run out” and neither is it a “fossil fuel.” Or so I’ve read. I could be wrong. Ask the Russians.
If a very young child in its lack of experience is handling something that really could hurt them, it is taken away to protect them, right? You are careful with loaded guns because they “could go off,” right?
The right to vote is something like that: “Be careful you could hurt yourself,” “watch out! it might go off !”
Self-governance is a very serious matter. As is life itself. We have to ramp up to the level of what we have inherited in the political realm. Being childish and depending on “elites” gets you what you got and will get you plenty more. To your generational hurt and misery. Some that write here have a very negative brief regarding the basics of the United States. I distrust that negative brief. Why? Let’s take for example the island of Cuba- AFTER Castro rose to control in 1958 40,000 to 50,000 were, what’s the word?, liquidated. Just plain murdered. That’s 0.65% of the population. That negative brief I referred to often goes hand-in-hand with a positive brief for Castro’s Cuba. I say phooey. (The reference here is “The Black Book of Communism.”)
Have a really great evening everybody!
Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard
You sound so certain that “Mr. Bender has been in violation for awhile…” Yet the legal brief filed on his behalf points out that there are exemptions in the Wisconsin law that cover Mr. Bender’s activities.
The judge in the case was apparently persuaded he should take a closer look at the Wisconsin law identified in the brief, as you’ll see from the addition to my most recent post. Today he put off DATCP’s request for a permanent injunction, and has scheduled a hearing on Mr. Bender’s arguments, for mid-January.
Not only that, but did Mr Bender obey the ruling of the judge this summer when he was asked not to do meat cutting until July 2013? If he had obeyed, I don’t think he would be facing trial in a few months. And yet most of the comments in relation to this article indicate that Mr Bender is a law-abiding citizen. I find that hard to believe…….especially when he continued to do business even though the judge had said not to.
Do Mr Bender’s children want to see their own father in the court room? Indeed not! Do they want to see him shut down completely? No. Do they want to see him fined or sent to prison? Absolutely not. Do they want to see him be in compliance with and obey the law? Yes indeed.
Again, I am not here to start an argument, but in getting direct information from family members involved with the situation…………I am convinced that some of the individuals commenting here are not fully aware of what is really going on.
I agree with Mr. Odegaard. I would trust someone I can see and watch over any govt “approved/inspected” entity.
People purchase meat products from govt inspected/approved facilities that are not in compliance with the laws of the land quite often. If the “laws” were followed, there’d be no contamination…right? Otherwise, what’s the purpose in having the “laws”?
I have not made comments based on rumors – they have come direct from Mr Bender’s children themselves.
Neither am I condeming Mr Bender. I do know that he did not comply with the judge’s ruling a few months ago when he was asked not to do meat cutting until July 2013.
I wish I could agree with your comment that states “Mr Bender is and, from the time he decided to relocate to Wisconsin, has been, committed to complying with state licensing requirements.” Unfortunately I must disagree with that. I realize that Mr Bender most likely told you that he was trying to comply, but I am also aware of individuals that advised him not to do what he was doing because it was not in compliance with the law. I am also aware of family members who looked up the facts of the law online for him. And even though they found that he was not in compliance and shared their findings with him, he still refused to comply.
Again, I am not here to argue what is being said. I realize that, as Mr Bender’s attorney, you need to defend him. I will not stand in your way. And neither will I stand in the way of the representatives of the state of Wisconsin.
It has been my intent and will continue to be my intent to only speak the truth in these comments. I realize that individuals will disagree with what I am sharing, but that is okay. If anyone has a question/comment about what I have commented on, they may feel free to share it (no offense or hard feelings on my part). I could share much, much more about this situation (some of it personal observation), but out of respect for Mr Bender’s children, I will not do so.
Since the power structure doesn’t recognize its own laws, the people certainly should refuse to do so. The only true laws are the laws of our communities, including the natural economic law which says food markets are naturally local and regional. Anything that’s contrary to this, for example the top-down “laws” which seek Big Ag’s imperatives, is in fact illicit from any natural or human perspective.
Much of what passes for “food safety” and “nutrition” is right out of the dark ages… actually, the dark ages were probably way ahead of us.
As others have pointed out, your post portray a startling lack of credibility and character, especially the whole “I would say… but.” If that were so, you should have not said anything in the first place.
I know not the facts of the Bender case, but I do know that almost nothing of what you wrote is an accurate portrayal of reality. Others warn him? I am sure others in “compliance” with the big boot on their throat probably did. People often despise others who are willing to stand up for what is right and good when they are too afraid to do so themselves.
I have spoken with other farmers in WI who literally are getting slaughtered by the lack of butchers and the insane expense. Surprised you didn’t post anything about that. But please stop pontificating as if somehow laws were meant to or actually protect people. “So often violations of the law are left go,” yep, hundreds of times EVERY DAY For big corporations… but pretty much never for small farmers and small businesses.
Yes, we have invented a (CFL) lightbulb that must remain either on or off at all times if we dont want it to burn out rapidly, that takes a number of minutes to achieve optimal brightness and efficiency, and that works efficiently for less than half of its rated lifespan, which is a fraction of what manufacturers claim it is, and requires a HAZMAT specialist to properly dispose.** The lightbulbs were also found in a recent study to emit an especially harmful for of radiation through cracks in the phosphorous coating.
Yep, that is what government law and regulation gets you – a highly toxic, completely crappy product, that benefits an industry, poisons the environment, and harms the consumer.
But of course, I want to get my meat from a facility complying with such stalwart and sage advice…
I think that the real reason for genetic engineering is to put absolute control of the food system into corporate hands. They dont want anybody farmer or urban consumer or anybody else to have anything whatsoever that they dont buy from a corporation at the corporations price. In other words, economic totalitarianism is the goal. And I dont think the difference between political totalitarianism and economic totalitarianism is worth lingering over. If youre not economically free, if you dont have economic choices, youre not free.~ Wendell Berry original posted on Scott Terry’s FB.
Mark, when you talk like that you loose credibility. Your too smart to make your self appear so uneducated. The North American Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association just hosted a food rights workshop in Wisconsin that included farmers, activists, attorneys, FTCLDF, legislators and consumers from around the country to engage in open honest dialogue about the state of our food supply system in America, and the lengths being taken to erode our right to access the foods of our choice. (Note you were not invited to participate) This goes so far beyond raw milk. The people of Wisconsin have rallied around our farmers like the Zinniker’s and Hershberger’s and they are fighting for honest legislation. Mark, you have some amazing ideas, and have accomplished so much for raw milk. I agree with most of what you say about food safety for milk destined for the public stream. And I support your desire to provide training and accountability… However, your tone…your depiction of your raw milk utopia in CA, is pretty over the top. I get that you are enthusiastic, and that’s good, but I personally would be much more open to your ideas if you could express your views in a less exaggerated manner and stop writing about Wisconsin and other places as though they were a leper colony.
And thank you for the encouraging words on Wisconsin muscle. From what Ive learned here at TCP, the Wisconsin potential is over the top, and what is going on even now (as you have pointed out above) portends greater things because this good stuff is trucking along in spite of the negative forces in place.
And not just in the great state of Wisconsin. Surely others are moving forward as well.
Is there a school of practical diplomacy where, while still productive in our quantity of communications, we can learn to be more polished, and more charitable, coming down hard when necessary (without using a broad brush), and not curb our all-important, energizing enthusiasms?
Heres my application for enrollment.
All the best,
Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard