Thursday, October 26, 2006

Raw Milk

Okay, so I'm not sold on the benefits vs. risk of raw milk, but I'm definitely interested. The Washington Post has this article which helps. For those of you unfamiliar with the debate, this is a great introduction.

And if there's any doubt about how the Department of Agriculture feels about the issue, read on - here's a timely article by Patty Cantrell of the Michigan Land Use Institute, and below is the original email that went out after the Ag enforcement folks went after Richard and Annette Hebron:

Dear Family Farms Coop Customer,
We are sending out this e-mail with the help of our customers to inform you of the events of 10/13/06.
I was on my way to our buyer's club in Ann Arbor Michigan on Friday, 10/13/06 when I was pulled over by the state police just out side of Ann Arbor. I was served with a search warrant for the delivery truck by Mike Yuhuz from the Michigan State Agricultural Department. At this time they seized 450 gallons of raw milk, 29 quarts of fresh cream, 11 quarts of kefir, 4 quarts of buttermilk, 9 quarts of yogurt, and 29 pounds of butter, my cell phone, all of our milk coolers, and invoices for that day's distributions. They refused me any calls to distribution location to inform our customers of my delay or Annette.
When I asked why they were doing this, Mike Yuhuz's reply was "You are distributing unmarked products."

After they realized they couldn't haul all the seized products in their minivan, Mike Yuhuz gave me the option of reloading my truck and hauling products to Lansing for them or seizing my truck and products and leave me responsible for my own way home. I agreed to take the products to Lansing for them if they would release my truck to me to drive home.

I was released from East Lansing at 2:30 p.m. to return home only to find at the same time that same morning Annette was served with a warrant and our property at which time they seized our computer, (NOTE: we still have no computer or email!!) all cow share records, cow herd release agreements, rolodex, invoices, current order sheets, products sheets, delivery schedules, and all raw dairy products in storage on the farm.

Upon reading the warrant at home, I found that a customer of ours at the Ann Arbor location was a Michigan Department of Agriculture agent who had signed a cow share contract in early May after he tried to purchase milk the week before without a cow share contract.

He made 10 purchases of various products between May and October 2006. It was noted in the warrant the milk was tested to be and proven to be raw milk of very high quality by the Michigan Department of Agriculture on more than one occasion.

At this time, there are no charges pending investigation.

I have been in contact with Peter Kennedy, attorney for the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Aajonus Vonderplanitz, an attorney who originally set up our cow share program.

On Friday, 10/20/06, we will make delivery to Morgan & York in Ann Arbor at the regular time, then go on to Birmingham Unitarian Church for delivery at the regular time with meat and egg products.

At this time, the only way to order is by our home phone, 269-476-8883.

Regarding Chicago area deliveries, we hope to make a delivery of all products 10/23/06 to scheduled locations at scheduled times. As for this Monday, 10/16, we will be at scheduled locations at scheduled times with as many products as possible. We don't have any current orders for what was seized on Friday.
Call the home number for orders 269-476-8883. Annette and I thank you all for your support and prayers over the past two days. We look forward to serving all of you again soon.

Richard and Annette Hebron and family.

The officials with the Michigan Department of Agriculture who searched and seized both property from our truck and property from our home are listed below with phone and fax numbers.
Terrance Philibec, Dairy Supervisor, MDA, direct phone: 616-356-0600; fax: 616-356-0622
Mike Yuhuz, Elizabeth Hunt, MDA agents: 989-757-7501

We will very soon send another email with suggestions for action you can take, especially with contacts and testimonials to Michigan State representatives who are willing to help us right now. Please stay tuned.

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