From SARA GRUSKY
[Update below from Michael Foley…]
Dear friends, family, newspaper editors, and those who seek wholesome food in their local community:
On Thursday June 30th during the weekly farmer’s market in Willits, California, my husband Michael Foley was served a notice of violation from Jim Dentoni of the Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture. The notice said: “You are hereby ordered to cease and desist the sale of, and giving away, of any and all raw or pasteurized dairy products from any unlicensed dairy and/or processing milk plant.”
My husband and I run a small family farm called Green Uprising at Blackberry Bend where we reside with our children and grandchildren. In addition to providing the community with fresh fruit and vegetables grown without artificial pesticides and fertilizers, we board, feed, and milk ten adult goats for shareholders who have purchased ownership interest in the herd.
According to the Calif Dept. of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) this is a threat to the public health. Our children, our grandchildren, friends, family, neighbors and shareholders all drink raw milk directly from the teats of goats boarded at our farm (my goodness!) and we are all alive and well, happy and healthy. In fact, if you go back three or four generations most everyone who consumed milk drank it raw from a family farm in their community. But, according to CDFA, our shareholders don’t have the right to drink raw milk from a goat herd they have purchased an ownership interest in. According to CDFA, they know better than you what’s good for you. And, they think that pasteurized milk from a feedlot dairy where large amounts of antibiotics are used (due to the unhealthy conditions) and Bovine Growth Hormone (a genetically engineered artificial growth hormone) may be given to stimulate milk production, is healthier than the milk I hand milk into glass jars from my ten precious goats. You have got to be kidding…
We have agreed to temporarily cease and desist providing milk to those who have ownership interest in the herd. But, we are committed to fighting the intrusions of a “nanny state” that imposes its misinformed notions of food safety. We will be gathering our shareholders for a meeting and, with legal counsel from the Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, we will be discussing all possibilities available to ensure that everyone has the right to drink the milk of their choice. By the way, when I went out to the barn and told Floppy, Rosemary, Persimmon and the rest of the flock to cease and desist producing milk they told me I was crazy, they were hungry and I better get to work milking them, now. So, what am I supposed to do with the gallons and gallons of milk filling the fridge, Jim Dentoni? My mother, who was a child during the Depression, taught me never to waste good food.
Why is it so easy to shut down a small family farm? Why does the California Department of Food and Agriculture believe that Hostess Twinkies, Lucky Charms or Coca Cola are safe foods, but that raw milk produced at our farm is dangerous? Here’s a deal I would be more than willing to make. I don’t believe that raw milk is a public health threat, but we would gladly cease and desist the production of raw milk if the following real public health threats and real threats to the future of our planet would also cease and desist. For example, how about shutting down nuclear power plants, offshore oil drilling, fracking operations, or asking coal companies to cease and desist mountaintop removal and shutting down coal-fired electricity plants? Or how about asking Cal Trans to cease and desist on the bypass plan and give the land back to its original owners?
[Update] Michael Foley responds to comments:
Can’t sell cheese except from a licensed facility. You can drink your own milk still, even serve it to the kids but not, presumably, guests. CDFA (or some part of it) even thinks that our shareholders, who’ve purchased an ownership interest in the herd, would drink it — but only on the farm! And if I gave it to my daughter who lives in Oakland — whoa! outside the law. As interpreted by CDFA.
So there may be a court case involving a San Jose couple in the same situation. We may join it. There seems to be lots of traction behind a movement to enact local food sovereignty ordinances. A good symbolic step, though it will mean the same thing to CDFA, I presume, as California’s medical marijuana law means to the feds.
Stay tuned. Come to the showing of Farmaggedon. [Friday, July 15th – Little Lake Grange, 291 School St, Willits, CA at 7pm]