A few weeks ago, with lots of fanfare, the head of Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced a “working group” on raw milk, “to decide whether raw milk sales should be allowed in Wisconsin, and if so, under what conditions.”
It sounded like peace was nearly at hand. Farmers who had been organizing themselves and encouraging consumers to protest with their legislators as well as with DATCP, over the agency’s assault on people like Max Kane and Scott Trautman, let up, assuming they were about to enter a quiet period before the working group made its recommendations.
But like a nation at war that announces a peace initiative, and then seeks to inflict as many casualties on its adversaries as possible to maximize its negotiating position later, DATCP has intensified its war on Wisconsin raw milk producers.
As one example, it has filed a “Summary Special Order” against Dan Siegmann, one of the leaders of the effort to change Wisconsin’s dairy laws. The order describes the investigation of his dairy, and concludes that Siegmann sold raw milk unlawfully, and must discontinue the sales.
In an email to supporters of the Wisconsin raw milk protest, Dan Siegmann said a few days ago: “They have been aware of the possibility of raw milk being available from our farm because we worked with them many years ago to provide it according to their terms. The terms since then have been revoked and the state law stands as written back in 1957 and 1958. We received a summary special order from Steven C. Ingham, the administrator of the division of food safety at DATCP. We have been officially notified and ordered to cease all raw milk distribution. If they discover any distribution of raw milk
from our farm, they have threatened to revoke the retail food establishment license we have for Back to the Best Country Store. If this happened it would be shut down.”
DATCP has also filed requests for detailed information with three other farmers to determine whether or not they have been selling raw milk. These are often prelude to the summary special order Dan Siegmann received.
DATCP’s spokesperson, Donna Gilson, adamantly denies there is any connection between the announcement of the working group three weeks ago and the seeming step-up in enforcement activities against raw dairies. “We don’t have the authority to declare a moratorium. If people think that’s what the working group is about, they’re mistaken.”
Certainly a number of Wisconsin advocates of raw milk have made that assumption. They had cautioned protesters to remain quiet, mainly to allow for legislation that would legalize some on-farm sales to work through legislative hearings, which haven’t yet been held.
Now, a number are advocating a reversal. Dan Siegmann, for instance, in his email, is encouraging supporters to phone DATCP officials like Ingham as well as their legislators to protest the state’s crackdown.
Others are in the process of trying to determine the best ways to challenge DATCP. the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is in the midst of its own determination of how to handle the additional cases being cranked out by DATCP.
One thing is clear: in such an intensive battle with a determined enemy like DATCP,:you can’t ever let up the pressure. Any letup is interpreted as weakness, a lack of resolve. DATCP only understands two considerations: pressure and fear of more pressure.
Speaking of regulators in relentless pursuit of raw dairy producers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to apply the heat to Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. As part of its settlement of a civil suit against the dairy, it wants not only to conduct regular inspections of the dairy, but it wants to charge Organic Pastures for the privilege. All this according to a detailed report in Food Safety News that is well worth reading. Thanks to Don Neeper for the original link.