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Raw Milk: Dairy Farmers Fighting Back in Wisconsin

By David E. Gumpert From his blog, The Complete Patient. The on-again-off-again enforcement activities by Wisconsin regulators against distributors of raw milk over the last four years have left at least two dairy farmers facing “a Hobson’s choice,” in the words of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The legal defense organization invokes that phrase in a new suit filed in state court against the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), on behalf of Kay and Wayne Craig, owners of a dairy farm and store in New Holstein, WI. The suit asks the court to force DATCP to allow the Craigs to distribute raw milk from their store (open only to members of a limited liability company), without need for a retail license. The suit also seeks an injunction against DATCP to prevent it from enforcing its expanding ban on raw milk distribution against the Craigs. A court victory would strike a huge blow against DATCP’s tough campaign launched earlier this year against raw dairy producers in the state, following several years of allowing a few producers permission to distribute, and turning a blind eye to dozens and possibly hundreds of farmers selling raw milk directly to consumers. According to FTCLDF lawyer, Gary Cox, “The suit seeks declarations that nobody is selling raw milk in violation of the law, and that the LLC store does not need to possess a ‘retail food establishment’ permit in order to operate. “ The FTCLDF essentially argues that the state since 2005 has been entirely inconsistent in its approach to allowing the dairy and store to sell raw milk—first explicitly allowing sales by the Craigs and then this year, reversing itself and refusing to renew the store’s retail licence. Now, in threatening to prohibit raw milk distribution, DATCP gives the Craigs “a Hobson’s choice, i.e., either comply with an unlawful interpretation of a statute or ignore the unlawful interpretation and face the possible consequences of noncompliance.” Wayne Craig told me in November that he thought he was “next on DATCP’s list” for the lifting of his raw dairy license. This suit most immediately represents an effort to forestall such an effort for the Craigs, but if it’s successful, for possibly hundreds of Wisconsin dairies selling raw milk, now deemed to be in violation of state law. Among those previously targeted have been Scott Trautman, a dairy farmer, and Max Kane, the owner of a buyers club, who has been ordered to appear in state court on Monday to explain why he shouldn’t divulge his customer list to DATCP. A number of protests are planned that day, including a courthouse rally prior to his appearance before a judge. *** Separately, oral arguments of the appeal in the case involving Barb and Steve Smith’s Meadowsweet Dairy in upstate New York is due to be heard Jan. 13 before the state’s supreme court Jan. 13. The case has been dragging on for nearly two years. *** These legal actions follow on the heels of the okay yesterday of raw milk in Framingham, MA, and a rescinding of potentially onerous rules in South Dakota, which I wrote about a few days ago in my posting about John Sheehan’s imaginary job performance review. Suddenly, it seems like lots of action on the raw milk legal and regulatory fronts. *** A very incisive review of The Raw Milk Revolution (admittedly, I’m biased) from the popular site, Treehugger. But I appreciate it when reviewers are pleasantly surprised, per this comment: “I entered this book expecting a treatise whose pages would be turned only by a compelling curiosity on the issue of raw milk. Instead, I found 228 pages packed with interesting and personal stories, knit together by an overarching philosophical question: can individual choice survive when the agents of government raise their sights against a minority practicing their beliefs?” Photo: Wayne and Kay Craig, and family, at last month’s Weston A. Price Foundation conference.


Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you. Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and […] Read More

Hands-On Learning: School of The New American Farmstead

This summer, twelve of our authors (plus Chelsea Green’s own President and Publisher) will be leading hands-on intensive courses at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont.These workshops, classes, and certifications will inspire you, equip you with marketable skills, and provide you with new perspectives on integrated, community-centered farming and food production.Engage your SensesThe hands-on courses will […] Read More

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook Wins IACP Award

Chelsea Green is thrilled to have received the Food Matters Award for The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook, by the OAEC Collective and Olivia Rathbone.The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced its 2016 IACP Award winners on April 3 during a ceremony in Los Angeles.The awards recognize the best food writing of the year, […] Read More

Recipe: Pascal Baudar’s Basic Wild Kimchi

Experiment with what you have, anything from the mustard family will work extremely well. Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More
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