An Appeal from Sally Fallon Morell
June 18, 2010
Dear Friend of Nutrient-Dense Food,
Here in America, we all have the right to purchase and consume the foods of our choice, foods we need for our own health and the health of our families, right? Not according to the FDA! The FDA’s response to our current legal challenge shows us exactly what we are up against — and why the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund needs your continued financial support.
On February 19 of this year, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (the Fund) filed a lawsuit against the FDA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services to challenge federal regulations banning the transport and sale of raw milk across state lines. On April 26, FDA filed its response to the lawsuit, providing a public record of what the agency’s views on food freedom of choice really are.
Here are some of FDA’s shocking claims:
- “There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.”
- “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for
themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”
- “There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”
Fortunately, we have the Fund to defend our farmers and consumers, and with a large membership and diverse financial support, the Fund will have the resources to protect your right to healthy food.
Three years ago, on Independence Day, July 4, 2007, the Weston A. Price Foundation helped launch the Fund to defend the rights and broaden the freedoms of family farms and to protect consumer access to raw milk and other nutrient-dense foods.
Here are some of the ways the Fund has put your money to work:
1. Challenging the FDA to Increase Our Access to Raw Milk
The Fund has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn two federal regulations banning raw dairy products for human consumption in interstate commerce. The suit is asking the court to declare FDA’s prohibition as unconstitutional and beyond its statutory authority. FDA is at the center of the opposition to raw milk, pressuring the states to outlaw its sale and distribution. Overturning the ban is key to securing access to raw milk throughout the U.S. The FDA’s response to the lawsuit has made it clear that this case is about more than just raw milk; it’s about keeping government from interfering with our food
2. Fighting NAIS to Preserve Our Family Farms
In 2008, the Fund brought a federal lawsuit challenging USDA’s implementation of the National Animal Indentification System (NAIS), the plan to require the electronic tagging and detailed tracking of all livestock. Although the judge dismissed the case, the lawsuit served to educate the public and the media about the problems with NAIS, as well as warn USDA and the states that they faced an organization prepared to challenge them in court. Thanks to these efforts, along with the activism of many other groups, USDA announced that it was dropping NAIS in February; but the agency is still talking about an animal traceability system, so we are watching developments carefully.
3. Defending Our Farmers in Court
Gone are the days when farmers stood alone in the courthouse to defend their principles. Now, the Fund’s legal team and the entire organization are there to stand beside our farmers in court. The Fund is leveling the playing field, making it more difficult for government agencies to use administrative and judicial proceedings to grind down farmers and drain their resources. Board member Tim Wightman remembers a time when farmers fought these battles alone. Just nine years ago, after a severe government action in Wisconsin, he lost his farm, restaurant and financial wellbeing running back and forth to Madison to defend himself, leaving farm partners and family at home to cover for him. What a difference the Fund is making for farmers subjected to legal actions these days!
4. Defending Our Farmers in Parking Lots
The Bechard Family Farm was sued by the Missouri Attorney General for having the audacity to distribute raw milk in a parking lot. I think we all feel for the Bechard’s teen daughters caught in this “sting operation.” Undercover agents allegedly purchased raw milk from the daughters, leading to the charges filed against the Bechards. The State is claiming that deliveries can only be made directly to the customers’ homes, even though a central delivery point is more convenient for both the Bechards and their customers — another example of the type of government intrusion we are up against.
5. Protecting Our Buyers Clubs, Food Co-Ops, and Cow-Shares
Cow-share operators, buying clubs and food co-ops have found a friend in the Fund, to help them navigate the sometimes tricky legal waters involving direct distribution of raw milk and other nutrientdense foods. Around the country, the Fund is working to protect the closer ties forged by farmers and consumers. The Fund consults with farmers on local, state and federal regulations along with labeling and contract issues, and advises members about their rights.
6. The Fund Is In It for The Long Haul
Fund General Counsel, Gary Cox, Esq., has been fighting the Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC case on behalf of Steve and Barb Smith in New York for nearly three years to uphold the right of the LLC members to obtain raw milk and raw milk products from the dairy without government interference. The Fund is appealing a court ruling that anyone who makes raw milk available to consumers must get a permit, with the court finding that “consumers” are those who “consume something” — conceivably meaning that dairy farmers would even need permits to consume raw milk from their own cows. Gary recently won a victory for the Smiths when he persuaded a judge to throw out a two-and-one-half-year-old search warrant that a state agency wanted to execute against the Smiths.
7. Sounding the Alarm About Draconian Food Safety Legislation
The Fund’s timely action alerts and thorough, thought-provoking analyses have provided activists and media outlets with highly credible, accurate and footnoted articles about the dangers for farmers hidden in Congressional legislation HR-2749 and S-510. If passed in the current form, this legislation would severely hobble or even halt small farm sales and artisan production.
8. Handling Farm Legal Emergencies 24/7
The Fund receives a number of calls daily for advice ranging from labeling issues to emergency situations. The Fund takes emergency calls 24/7. These calls often begin, “An inspector is on my farm, what do I do?” The Fund attorney then walks them through a contentious inspection — over the phone — and talks directly to the inspectors if requested.
9. Respecting the Values and Beliefs of Farmers of All Faiths
When the Fund heard that members of Anabaptist faith couldn’t join the Fund, due to religious beliefs that prohibit them from joining organizations that engage in litigation, the Fund created a new tier of services, called “Non-Member Consulting Agreements,” to provide those farmers with valuable legal counsel.
10. Putting Your Money to Work
Thanks to your support, the Fund is able to stand by the Bechards and Smiths as well as many other farmers including Chuck and Diane Phippen, of Breese Hollow Dairy in New York, Wayne and Kay Craig of Grassway Organics and Mark and Petra Zinniker in Wisconsin, John and Jackie Stowers of Manna Storehouse in Ohio, Mark and Blaine McAfee of Organic Pasture’s Dairy and Ron Garthwaite and Collette Cassidy of Claravale Farm in California. The Zinniker family says that without the Fund’s free legal representation for them, the financial burden would have been too much to bear, and the oldest biodynamic farm in the country would have folded.
I encourage you to join or renew your membership in the Farm-to- Consumer Legal Defense Fund — if all the members of the Weston A. Price Foundation also became members of the Fund, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund would be a force to be reckoned with! And, if you can, please make a donation. If you want your donation to be tax-deductible, you can make your check out to the Fund’s sister organization, the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation, which provides charitable relief, education and support for public interest litigation.
I look forward to writing you again next year, with another progress report. Thank you in advance for your support.
Yours in good health and farm freedom!
Sally Fallon Morell, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation