Pantry Paratus Radio, Episode 030:
Interview with Pete Kennedy, Esq.,
President of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
If you read our blog, you probably have heard of the early morning SWAT team style raids on the Amish Dairy farmer. In light of that, the best place to start with an introduction of our guest Mr. Pete Kennedy, Esq. is to paraphrase our friend Paul Wheaton, “I used to think that superheroes wore capes, but I guess that in the modern day these defender's of justice trade in their capes for a brief case and defend the little guy against the big machine in court.” Sit back and contemplate on food and farm freedom this 4th of July with our special guest, Pete Kennedy, the President of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. If you have ever seen the movie Farmaggedon, consider these guys the legal cavalry.
We talk about:
- Pete discusses his cancer recovery and the role Weston A. Price Foundation played in that, and how that began his involvement doing legal research for WAPF, including raw milk laws throughout the United States.
-Pete explains what the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is, how they operate, and their mission of food freedom. They work in policy, advisory, and litigation in their efforts to defend food producers’ rights to produce and sell food through direct commerce. This is most frequently in regards to dairy farming at this particular time in history.
-The modern regulatory system is set up to protect industrial food production and processing as well as pushing commodity agriculture (thank the “Farm Bill”) and is not set up to protect (nor is it friendly towards) small producers. This is ironic, because small producers are how much of the non-industrialized world eats!
-Pete describes who becomes a member and Chaya sums up, “Either you’re producing food or you’re eating it.”
-The role of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund in education, especially in the area of raw milk.
-The increase of consumer demand for raw milk (is going up!), and the importance of education.
-Happy Birthday Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund! Founded on the 4th of July in 2007—celebrating 6th anniversary.
-Pete and Chaya discuss the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ likely assumption that food rights were basic to the human experience. There is a body of law developing in regards to the right of privacy with court rulings that have protected areas that are more controversial than protecting food choice.
-It all started with Prohibition, the Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act so that the government is now between you and your food in the name of “Consumer Protection.” But who is to protect the consumer from the regulator when the laws become injust?
-The regulatory schemes dwindled the number of small farms, but the good news is that the trend is reversing.
-The right to privacy laws are developing, how that evolves is directly correlated to food freedom. Or put more succinctly by Joel Salatin, “Who owns this person?”
-The criminal case of Vernon Hershberger, an Amish farmer, in Wisconsin. He had a private buyers club for years. Raw dairy products (such as raw milk, butter, and cheese) are legal to consume but illegal to sell. He was raided several years ago, in which his refrigerators were taped. They eventually brought criminal charges due to his lack of proper permits and for having removed the tape off of his refrigerators. The judge made rulings that made it extremely difficult to win this case.
-After a 5 day trial, Hershberger was acquitted of all but 1 charge. The jurors later determined that they did not have the proper information and if they did they would never have found him guilty; there will be an appeal.
-Did Wisconsin try to make an example out of Vernon Hershberger? Pete said, “He stood up for what was right and I think they resented that.
-The Juror Revolt, four of the jurors had a change of heart, individually researched the issue after the court case, wrote letters to the judge, and are now looking into joining the private buying club.
-Civil court cases are much more difficult but it is a judge’s sole decision and the evidence is in the state’s favor; in contrast, criminal cases have a jury of peers, there is the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
-Fewer states are listening to the FDA, which is very dogmatic when it comes to raw milk and makes public statements like, “drinking raw milk is like playing Russian Roulette with your health.”
-Challenging the FDA regulation that it is illegal to cross state lines with raw milk
-Other recent court cases, such as 1 in Minnesota last year where a volunteer manager for a buyers club faced several misdemeanor criminal charges. He was acquitted of all 3 charges. Many members attended with their children. The judge commented on how well-behaved the children were, someone in the crowd shouted, “It must be the raw milk!” Alvin is still facing more charges in another county; the state dropped the single charge about the raw milk itself.
-Organic Pastures Dairy in California is trying to get its product from one state where it is legal to another state where It is legal.
-The great trend of towns passing local food sovereignty ordinances.
-The types of court cases Farm to Consumer takes; they defend the legality against government agencies.
-The signs of an unjust law—where have we seen this before?
-Most states have “livestock lein laws,” recognizing the rights of someone who owns livestock. Herd shares; unless there is a law that expressly outlaws them, they are legal.
-RFID tagging of livestock: the implications in regards to food freedom with federal or state mandates requiring RFID. Most states have laws in place, we are worried about federal government leveraging their will (read: withholding funds) following the defeat of NAIS.
-Tagging each poultry bird? Total Lack of Common Sense—but still part of the federal program.
-The Annual Appeal: The fundraising goals of Farm to Consumer—a true grass roots non-profit = no government funding (let’s face it FTCLDF sues the government), only small business funding, not large corporate funding. Most funds come through individuals.
Like FTCLDF on Facebook
Raw Milk map legal/illegal color code state by state
Donate to FTCLDF or attend one of their fund raisers and meet some of our other great friends!
Modern Farmer article on the Juror Revolt in the criminal misdemeanor case of Vernon Hershberger
Pantry Paratus podcast with Natasha Simeon on the raw milk situation in Minnesota
Nothing in this blog constitutes medical or legal advice. You should consult your own physician or legal counsel before making any personal life changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.