This just in from Ontario raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt:
“Bad News are Good News?
This makes it very clear once again: as further the distance becomes between farmer and consumer as more vulnerable we all become to regulations designed to control every aspect of our lives.
I always worried about Mark and his dependency on a few big retailers, which move lots of products instead of many little guys moving less products. I know it is easier and more convenient to have a big customer.
The good news about Whole Foods is, that we are forced to rethink were we have to go from here.
Reconnecting the consumer with the farmer becomes more and more priority. We would be foolish to trust the current Governments of the US and Canada to be the ones who will recognize the problem of the current corporate control of policies. The current attacks on individual’s rights and basic freedoms are stunning and scary. The former Presidential Candidate and Republican Senator Ron Paul in the US is the lonely voice in the political dessert who keeps warning us about the steady erosion of civil liberties.
Which politician in Canada has taken on this responsibility?
We need to get involved in the political realm. We have to stop blaming politicians for their inaction and wrong decisions. We need to become active on all levels.
The time of complacency is over. As we built a new relationship between farmers and consumers, we also need to be concerned about our responsibility to get involved in the political process.
Either all or nothing.
Now here’s Mark McAfee’s report on the situation:
“Whole Foods Corporate with just six hours notice to OPDC has taken all raw milk off the shelves in Washington state, Pennsylvania, and California (all stores nationally). At 0800 hours tomorrow morning WF will not have any raw milk on the CA shelves. They say that it is a national corporate insurance policy issue…yet WF is not taking Spinach or any other raw food off the shelf.
I think that the FDA made a call to the insurance company…or maybe it was the Connecticut liability. We do not know. None the less…we did nothing wrong.
A sign at the empty shelves will go up tomorrow morning that will explain the issue and direct consumers to contact the dairy to find the next closest raw milk retailer. We will staff a person from 0800 to 2200 at night until every consumer finds their raw milk source. WF CA has been very supportive….but the CA WF support has not been enough to convince the insurance policy providers at national WF corporate to keep it on the shelves. OPDC was requested to provide our HACCP Food Safety plan to WF…we have one that we have used for the last year or more since the SB 201 Florez bill effort. This Food Safety plan was developed by Dr. Ron Hull PhD and was even audited by WF Safety consultants a year ago and they said it was really good. We have religiously used it for the last year and it has been one of the reasons we have been able to pass the less than 10 coliform test. We have offered to provide additional insured insurance from our company policy at Burlington Insurance. Obviously, it is only six hours into this change-up and more will be learned next week when our insurance company and WF insurance companies can perhaps work something out…until then the mom and pops and the CA coops will love the increased business. WF represents about 1/6 of the stores that carry OPDC products in CA with sales of about $30,000 per week or about 1/3 of sales volume. This volume will shift to other stores and our sales will become more local and support the mom and pops and coops more than ever. We expect that there could be a very serious consumer rebellion against WF. Raw milk consumers are a passionate group.
Wholefoods just dropped a “Wholefood” and it is going to hurt them most. Our raw milk consumers are connected to the dairy and will take their business to another retailer that will serve them cheaper. The good news is that the price points at the mom and pops and coops is much lower than WF. This could be a good thing in disguise.
It is lemonade time again at OPDC. It has nothing to do with OPDC or our quality.
We are working with WF to get this taken care of and get back onto shelves….but all bets are off.”
“…Over the last few months, I’ve been noticing ever more promotion given over to aceptic, or sterile, milk at Whole Foods stores in the Boston area. A few days ago, the promo, including sale pricing, had become a major display by the checkout counter. Maybe it’s the “organic” label that I find most bothersome, since it suggests this is a real food. I would guess this is the result of a glut of cheap conventional milk….”