Skip to comments.Elkhart County sheriff intervenes against feds in raw milk case
Posted on 12/21/2011 10:53:05 AM PST by bkopto
David Hochstetler doesnt want to be in the limelight.
Id rather just be left alone, he said.
As a producer of raw milk, though, Hochstetler operator of Forest Grove Dairy south of Middlebury finds himself at the center of controversy. Hes faced repeated inspections by federal regulators, apparently, and his situation prompted Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers to intervene, advising the feds to watch their step or face arrest by his department.
With Mr. Hochstetler, hes had harassment and ongoing visits that were unreasonable, said Rogers, who told federal officials in a Dec. 2 email that they would need warrants before conducting any more inspections of the mans farm. I just told them they were no longer welcome unless they had a warrant.
Now, judging by the response to his actions in the blogosphere, Rogers is the toast of online raw milk activists and others who think the federal government oversteps its bounds.
I think its great that the local sheriff is supporting the local farmers, said Gary Cox of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit group active in defending access to raw milk.
Hochstetler is left unsure what happens going forward federal officials backed off now. I dont know how long, he said while federal authorities remain largely mum.
As much as I would like to give a reaction, I would not, said U.S. Department of Justice attorney Ross Goldstein, recipient of the email from Rogers.
More than just raw milk
The roots of the controversy stem, in part, from differing views about raw milk that is, unpasteurized milk and the role the government should have in regulating its trade and use.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says unequivocally that, no, raw milk is not safe to drink because of the bacteria it can contain. Federal law prohibits commercial transfer of raw milk across state lines, while under Indiana law, its illegal to sell the product, though producers come up with arrangements under which consumers own or lease milk-producing cows, allowing them access to raw milk.
Proponents say the dangers of raw milk are overblown and that the product contains nutrients not found in pasteurized milk.
For Rogers, a Republican with ties to the Elkhart County tea party movement, its not about the pros or cons of raw milk, necessarily. Its about the federal government trampling on individual rights, something he sees happening in the Hochstetler case.
FDA officials have asked repeatedly to inspect Hochstetlers farm, Rogers said. The farmer initially acquiesced, but finally grew tired of the repeated inspections and started prohibiting inspectors entry. Ultimately, Ross, the Justice Department attorney, subpoenaed Hochstetler, ordering him to appear before a grand jury, and Hochstetler turned to the sheriff for assistance.
To me its not about raw milk. Its about upholding my oath of office and being a guardian of the Constitution, said Rogers. The repeated inspections and inspection requests, as he saw it, amounted to harassment from federal agencies.
As such, he fired off the email to Goldstein, threatening the arrest federal agents if they try to inspect Hochstetlers operation without a warrant.
This is notice that any further attempts to inspect this farm without a warrant signed by a judge, based on probable cause, will result in federal inspectors removal or arrest for trespassing by my officers or I, it reads in part.
In an interview at his office, Rogers said the feds are limited in what they can do by provisions in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. He alluded to the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the 10th Amendment, which grants states powers not reserved for the federal government.
The arrogance of thinking federal law trumps everything flies in the face of the 10th Amendment, Rogers said. If we think the federal government trumps everything, were destined for big trouble in the freedoms here in our country.
Goldstein fired back to Rogers with his own letter, sent via email soon after he received the sheriffs missive. The Justice Department attorney cited the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which gives agents authority to enter facilities where food is processed or manufactured.
Because it is a federal law, indeed an Act of Congress, officers or employees of the FDA may do so lawfully, without regard to any Indiana law to the contrary, Goldstein wrote.
A warrant would not be required to inspect Forest Grove Dairy. Whats more, refusal to permit entry to the operation is in itself a federal criminal offense, which under certain circumstances is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to three years, Goldstein wrote.
Either way, Hochstetler received a certified letter on Dec. 6 from federal officials saying the subpoena ordering the dairy farmer to appear before a grand jury had been withdrawn, Rogers said.
An open case
Advocates for small-scale farmers and raw milk advocates are overjoyed over the turn of events, first reported by David Gumpert in his blog, The Complete Patient. Gumpert is a journalist, blogger and author of a book on raw milk.
That is what the local food movement needs: more local and county sheriffs who know the Constitution and are willing to stand up for it! Bev Hill wrote in her blog, Good Food 4 All.
Federal officials remain tight-lipped. Im afraid that we cant respond to any questions regarding Forest Grove, as this is an open case, Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman, said in an email.
Forest Grove was cited in March 2010 by the FDA as the source of an outbreak of at least 12 cases of campylobacteriosis caused by raw milk. Furthermore, the company received a warning from the FDA in 2007 stemming from alleged illegal distribution of raw milk across state lines.
Hochstetler, for his part, says hes just filling demand for a product and vaguely indicates hell continue.
Speaking at his rural farm, in an agricultural zone south of Middlebury where Amish on bicycles and in horse-drawn buggies ply the roadways, he doesnt want to say much. But he wonders if agencies like the FDA dont have it in for small family farms producing raw milk, like his.
Harassment, he said. Thinking Ill get tired of it eventually and leave.
If raw milk is going to be available, he continues, consumers need to clamor.
Its going to be the consumers voice that needs to be heard, he said. The consumer needs to know whats happening out here in the country. They need to known their rights to eat are being taken away.
I come from a family of 6 kids. We drank raw milk from a local dairy the whole time we were all growing up. It tastes better, looks better and smells better than that crap that passes for milk in the grocery stores today. We’re all still alive and very healthy with some of us well past 60 years of age. This isn’t about milk, it’s about federal control of EVERYTHING in a person’s life, especially food. This sheriff has drawn “a line in the sand”....about time. Keep him in your prayers because it really is a “David versus Goliath” situation.
For how many centuries did we drink raw milk, before the FDA was there to protect us?
Those people are all dead. See how dangerous this stuff is?
‘Raw milk is the good stuff.’
Got that right.
Our 4 daughters, now in their 40’s, were raised on it, in southern California. Drank it until 10 or so, as we believe milk is for baby calves, and so did not have daughters drink it forever.
Don’t know what you’re missing.
Raw milk dairies are cleaner than others, if it’s a bonafide raw milk dairy.
Nonsense to be in fear of drinking it.
Grocery stores carry something which just passes as milk, and that’s what most are used to, and the way it tastes.
The taste of raw milk, and other raw dairy products, tastes the way this food is supposed to.
It’s a multi-billion dollar can of worms.
A lot of food is irradiated and / or pasteurized. I don’t want to say most, but that may be. Definitely a lot. Of course, lobbyists make sure that labels do no have to indicate irradiation.
So those entities who stand to lose if the lid is taken off the can of worms are...
Manufacturers of irradiation and pasteurization equipment.
This represents some hefty lobbying interests.
Also, the by backing down, the government agencies are implicitly admitting that what they have been doing for a very long time is unnecessary and even harmful.
Bigtime lobbies, bigtime government.
So we eat a food supply that is sterile.
Accordingly, our gut flora is out of balance, that is, the natural microorganisms that are in the human gut that take part in digestion are missing some of their compatriots in our gut and the body’s natural mechanisms cause things like an overgrowth of the yeast candida. This causes bowel problems, some believe things like Crohn’s. Also the yeast overgrowth is said to cause an immune response, as the yeast invades other parts of the body and the immune system attacks it. This immune response causes inflammation, which is not a good thing to continually have happening in the body and causes other health problems, among them symptoms of allergies. I know my “allergies” cleared up wonderfully when I started eating natural yogurt on a regular basis.
IMHO, a lot of health problems in America today are because of the processed food supply.
I see a governor of an entire state telling the feds to hit the road someday soon. That's all it's going to take.
“...this isnt about milk, its about federal control of EVERYTHING in a persons life, especially food...”
Bingo. Always has been. Everything fedzilla does is about control.
Sure as the sky is blue, whenever one man wants to live free, there will be two others who will group together to crush him in the name of “the common good”.
Ain’t collectivism just wonderful???
The Appetite of Tyranny is never far removed from the Tyranny of the Appetite.
Got Victory Garden?
My friend, I will ALWAYS be able to feed my family. One way, or another.
They play their games...and we’ll play ours.
once it’s heated it’s no longer cider, just apple juice.
NYS forced pastuerization because of e-coli found in the cider. One of the mysteries of life is how does shi* get on the apples while still on the tree. My hypothesis is the hired “migrant” help doesn’t wash their hands.
"We" aren't doing it. There's a particular mindset that makes some people think they're smarter than everyone else, and need to tell them what do do for their own good.
These people gravitate toward federal bureaucracies, where they can exercise that tendency, and Congress has turned control of virtually every aspect of our lives over to them, via the "substantial effects" doctrine of the Commerce Clause that started with Wickard v Filburn.
They've proven time and time again they cannot be trusted to exercise that power within the boundaries of common sense. It's time we took it back - the original intent of the Commerce Clause never granted them that power to start with. We let them have it as a matter of convenience, and that was a really bad idea.
My parents always bought the "Certified Milk" - which was the unpasteurized stuff. They delivered to your door in the glass quart bottles with the tinfoil caps.
A side benefit to all of this was that my daughter was very interested in my experience milking cows -- I also worked on a dairy farm in Vermont one summer in high school, and I had described the whole thing to her. She is a biologist, and when she was in college she went on a field study project to Costa Rica. One of the things they did was go around and interview local farmers. She was one of the few students who spoke Spanish fluently enough to do the interviews. A local dairy farmer thought he had given the dumb American kids a poser when he invited them to milk one of the cows. He laughed at a bunch of them, but then my daughter hitched up the milking stool and set to work just based on my description of "how to milk a cow". And lo and behold she made the pail ring. The farmer was very impressed and called her a real country girl . . . she thanked him and kept her own counsel.
All I know, is when I got my goats, it cleared up on me and my wife. Many years later, hers is coming back. Need to move so I can get goats again.
‘___guess you go for steak tartar_____.’
Strangely - never had steak tartar.
But I remember as a kid pinching off tiny bits of raw chopped meat before my mom cooked whatever it was!
Still do this - with a pinch of salt.
And I do eat rare steak - - -
Oh, that’s right - our milk was called Certified Raw Milk.
Don’t you love it when there’s a sort of talented ringer in the crowd? In a good way.
Good for your daughter.
We have grandsons 21 and 23, living in CO, who have gone to Costa Rica a few times. But their interest is snakes and reptiles - *shiver!*
But she isn't at all afraid of all those weird snakes and lizards and things -- and they seem to be fond of her (to the extent that cold-blooded things can demonstrate fondness).
She had a truly crazy herpetology professor who used to bring snakes into class and let them loose on the floor. Seemed like a nice guy when I met him, but . . . . !!!!!