Friday, October 16, 2009

This is unreal!

Anyone who believes we have true freedom in this country is fooling themselves!

I belong to an organization called Locally Grown, where we place orders on the internet with farmers around the state and SC, the farmers deliver the ordered goods to a central location and we pick up our orders at a specified time. I get all my meat, my produce and milk and eggs (when my animals aren't producing) there. It is the only source of raw milk in GA since it is illegal to sell raw milk in GA. The milk comes from SC and is picked up by a volunteer and brought to our pick up location. We buy the milk directly from the farmer in SC.

Anyway, yesterday at the the pickup time, representatives from the state of GA seized all the milk! They said it was illegal for us to have it in GA (which it is not). They entered the truck that contained the milk without a warrant and taped all the coolers shut.

I dried up my goat last week so my milk was part of the confiscated load. Now I will have to buy milk at the grocery store or try to find someone with a goat in milk that will give me some milk. I'm glad I have milk goats and can produce my own raw milk, at least most of the time.

Part of me finds this funny coming from the state behind the whole Peanut Corporation of America fiasco. Sure, FDA inspected and approved facilities are perfectly safe, but not those local farmers. Right.

Needless to say I'm angry and think this is ridiculous! Whose business is it if I want to drink raw milk? This is why I'm a Libertarian.

Here is the email that was sent from the organizer of Locally Grown:



Hello! It’s late and I’m exhausted, but I wanted you all to know what happened today at our Athens Locally Grown pickup.

When we arrived, we were greeted by three badged inspectors from the Georgia Department of Agriculture who were there waiting for us. “We read about you on the internet,” they told me.

I explained to them what Athens Locally Grown is, how we work, discussed that I’ve been diligent to make sure all of the growers who sell through the market have the appropriate licenses when needed, and so forth. The inspectors were very friendly during this time and everything that followed — I do not fault them in any way.

They talked to the growers as they arrived. They were particularly interested in the meat, and indeed found all of that to be legal.

When my wife arrived with the raw milk ordered by ALG members directly from the Cows R Us dairy in South Carolina (A USDA Grade A dairy fully licensed to sell raw milk), the inspectors entered our truck and began opening our coolers.

To be clear, I did not give them permission to enter or search my truck, and they did not have a warrant to do so. When they discovered the coolers to be full of clearly labelled raw milk, they immediately began calling their supervisors. They chain of calls made their way up to Peggy Gates, the director of the Dairy Division of the Consumer Protection Division of the State Department of Agriculture. She immediately gave orders to seize the entire load of milk.

I did try to explain to her all of the very strict rules that we follow to keep things legal. She was very gruff with me and was not at ll interested in hearing what we do. “I know exactly what you’re doing” she told me. She told me what we were doing is a Federal offense (it is not, and of course she has no jurisdiction over FEderal statute). In the end she declared all 100 gallons an “imminent health hazard” and ordered it seized.

Oddly enough, the inspectors could not seize it themselves, as they only had several small sedans. So, it was impounded in place on my truck, and I was ordered not to disturb the milk in any way, or else I “would be guilty of a felony”.

The inspectors and director Peggy Gates herself personally will be coming to my house Monday morning to witness my “destruction” of the milk. I am hoping they will not be also coming to arrest me, but they do have that power.

Let me reiterate that I believe we have not violated any laws whatsoever. What we are doing is also being done by thousands of groups and individuals throughout the country, and I have been extremely careful that we are doing what has legal precendent. Namely:

•You order via the website directly from the dairy
•The dairy receives the orders without any intervention from me. They have a name for every carton of milk
•We pick up, on your behalf, exactly the cartons that have been pre-ordered. We have a name for every carton of milk
•You meet us at the pickup location and get your milk.
•We do not store it beyond the pre-established pickup time.
Given those steps that are followed to the letter (and those of you who ask me every single week “can’t you just bring an extra gallon or two with you?” can attest that they are), I do not believe that the Georgia Department of Agriculture has any authority over those cartons of milk. We are not violating federal law. We are not violating state law.

So where do we stand? Right now, raw milk can no longer be offered through Athens Locally Grown. I have 110 gallons of milk sitting on my truck until Monday morning, when a team of officials will be coming to my house to witness its destruction (and hopefully nothing more). Until Peggy Gates changes her mind (which seems unlikely), that is that. It may well take a court order to change things. I know our membership includes a fair number of lawyers, and if any of you wish to help in this, please let me know. I really don’t know where to even begin.

I’ve taken a big financial hit today too, so please forgive our putting out a tip jar next week. I paid the dairy $440 for the milk on the customers’ behalf (and yes, I’m a customer too. I’ve got two gallons of my own sitting on the truck) and since the market operates on a break even basis (during the best of times), I don’t have that sitting in the bank.

I’ll keep you all informed. I’m surprised it took so long for them to harass us, and I’m also surprised by how unsympathetic they turned out to be. And by “they”, I really mean director Peggy Gates, who issued the order. Her website address is http://agr.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,38902732_125874866,00.html and her office’s phone number is (404) 656-3625. Please don’t harass her, but it may help if they do hear your stories., why you order raw milk, and why you are a member of Athens Locally Grown.

I know many of you were relying on your milk delivery today, especially since our truck’s engine problems kept us from bringing a full load last week. I’m sorry. Hopefully something will happen soon to make them loosen their grip and allow us to once again bring your milk that you ordered directly from the dairy to you.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you see fit.

-eric

22 comments:

Wendy said...

This sort of thing makes me so crazy! It's just frustrating ... and it's why I'm a Libertarian (in philosophy, if not practice :), too.

Arghh!

I'm sorry they took your milk. What a waste!

Linda said...

Yup this is one reason why, I too, want my own milk goats! Grrrrr

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Christy,

I totally agree with ya, and it is so disturbing that I just turn into a crazy libertarian woman.

Can the Buyers Club buy shares from the SC farm/s? as in, it would be milk that they owned coming across state lines.

A while back I read that a goat farmer sold shares of his farm - shareholders, then when they came and picked up milk, it was milk they already owned.

CeeCee said...

I'm so sorry that happened! So frustrating!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Ridiculous!

I wonder if they'll start having check points to 'catch' anyone who drives across the state line to buy their raw milk from South Carolina!

We lived in SC for 7 years and I always thought how 'backwards' they were, but in this case, being 'backwards' is a good thing. They allow what has been normal and healthy for generations!

Gggrrrrr! This fluffs my feathers!

~Lisa

Linda said...

Btw - I posted about this in my blog and quoted part of your post...

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh! And I forgot to say, it's not legal to buy raw milk in NM either, but folks get around it by selling shares of a cow, so you basically own part of the cow and you get so many gallons of milk per week.

I wanted to buy a share, too, but it ended up being $6.00 a gallon and my family goes through 3-4 gallons of milk a week, so it's too expensive for us. :(

~Lisa

Barbara said...

It is wrong that if you wish to purchase and drink raw milk you should be able to do so. While it is dangerous it should be your right to drink it at your own risk. To bad the FDA was not paying close attention to the spinach that killed so many, or the peanut butter along with a few other items. It all has to do with commodities etc......Raw Milk is not something that everyone gets a piece of the pie, only the farmer. If you were to trace how the FDA become involved I am sure a dairy farmer probably heard about it and complained as his piece of the pie isn't as big as it used to be.

David Gumpert said...

Christy,
I was going to write you directly, but I don't see an email address for you. I am glad you are publicizing this case, but you should credit the articles you quote from. The article you excerpted here about the Georgia raw milk case comes from my blog, www.thecompletepatient.com. It is copyrighted material, and thus can't legally be used without permission. I would, of course, be glad to give permission, but I would ask that you provide both a credit and a link to the original article. Thank you.
David Gumpert

Melodie said...

I think the people in charge are getting crazier every day!We should be able to eat what ever we want.The powers that be have no problem letting us consume massive amount of chemicals and preservatives!This kind of thinking makes me want to hunt them down and slap some sense in them.OK, no violence,well maybe a kick to the shin! We have our own cow and goats,but this is not an option for everyone.People are tired of being poisoned and want the right to eat healthy!The resources they are useing to harass people over milk could be put to much better use,like schools and police forces.Ahhhh!!!!

Christy said...

David, I did not realize quoting your article would be a problem. I've removed the quote and replaced it with the original email from the organizer of Locally Grown.

Gail said...

Crazy!

Linda said...

I made a post in my blog about the sell of raw milk in GA. You may want to go check it out.

melanie said...

Glad to read the replacement e-mail. It was more informative than the coveted article anyway...more importantly, you are getting out the word. Your story was part of my blog post as well...

Tonya said...

I am in TN where it is a problem too. I am getting a cow!

Texan said...

I just shake my head, unreal!!!

Jennifer said...

First off I love the new picture at the top of your blog. Your goats are so pretty!

Oh the whole raw milk thing just drives me crazy too. They treat people that sell raw milk like they are drug dealers, it is ridiculous!

Barbara said...

Christy, Just after you posted on this subject this article was published here in North Florida in the Suwannee Democrat. Reference to Dairy Farmers and Raw Milk.
http://www.suwanneedemocrat.com/archivesearch/local_story_287095159.html

If this link does not work google Suwannee Democrat and then search 'Dairy Farmers'

Karin said...

It's Monday night, I just found this, and I am hoping that you are alright. Broke, but alright...

Christy said...

Joanna, this is what they were doing. Every gallon of milk had someone's name on it. The state of GA is saying it is illegal to bring any milk across state lines, even if you just bought it and are bringing it home.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

hmmmm, someone was 'grumpy' (get it? hehe!) I liked the original e-mail better, too, Christy. It's silly to bicker over who 'owns' the information in this case. It's more important to shout it out loud to let everyone know what is going on on.Seriously, if this just a sneak peek at what the gorvernment is allowed to do in controlling how we feed our families and live our lives, what is next?

Not permitting the hunting and harvesting of wild game, or bringing it across state lines (because the meat hasn't been approved by the FDA)?


I was watching a healthg show on TV about a little boy who was bitten by a black widow spider and was allergic and was close to death. The Father flew to Mexico to pick up a anti-venom rug that was safer than the one that was offered to him in the US.
If he would have gotten caught carrying the drug at the airport, he could have gone to jail for illegal substances. And when he finally arrived back home, the hospital adamantly refused to administer the anti-venom!

The parents begged the Dr. to help them and he finally relented, but they had to go to his private doctor's office, away from the hospital, to have it administered.

Within 10 minutes of being given this 'foreign' anti-venom, the boy improved and was back to normal, with no more pain or swelling. He was literally pulled from the brink of death.
But it's shocking to think that our own US hospital would have sacrificed this little boy's life just because the DA wouldn't approve the life saving medicine!
And the parent were treated like criminals only because they would do anything at all to make sure their child survived.

What has this country come to when we are at the mercy of a government who claims to know what is best for us......but doesn't?

~Lisa

trying4two99 said...

First milk what's next?? The government is getting way too involved...