“Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. expresses surprise about the depth of opposition to RAWMI. “I did not know about farmers that absolutely want no help or assistance to develop consumer friendly programs to show the work they do for safety. I did not know that many Cow Share operators reject any kind of exposure and demand absolute secrecy.”
But I wonder, is his surprise that this segment of farmers exists? Is he surprised by the depth of their concerns? Or is he surprised that they “demand absolute secrecy”? Or does he mean “privacy” instead of “secrecy”?
So strong are the feelings, on both sides, that they are difficult to articulate. That leads to frustration. Gayle Loiselle,a plaintiff in the Craig/Zinniker cases in Wisconsin, sums it up when she says, “We need to organize and educate within our communities about the far reaching dangers of highly processed mass produced food and the benefits of sustainably produced nutrient dense food. And not waste our energy arguing over who is more right…that is exactly what the opposition is hoping for.”
Yes, all this was a lot easier when all we had to do was rail against the state and federal regulators at demonstrations, or express our cynicism during the Raw Milk Symposium. But now that we are looking at creating a new safety-oriented entity that is at once “consumer friendly” and “transparent,” as Mark McAfee puts it, the situation is much more challenging. Partly because we each have a different vision of what all these qualities mean.
Tim Wightman rightfully raises the fundamental question many of us would just as soon not think about: What should RAWMI (or a similar organization) actually do? He’s not sure exactly what it is, but knows what it isn’t. “To supplant wisdom with testing is not the answer and is the very reason we got in this mess in the first place. Balance is the key, in our soils, in our understanding and in our approach to the forces we must align ourselves with. To relegate that balance to testing alone is to ignore the other 75% of what it takes to create a quality product, and takes responsibility away to gaining wisdom and the relationships it forges.”
And then there are a good number of clear-thinking people who have serious problems with the idea of the Raw Milk Institute (or any such additional institutional entity) being a part of the food scene to begin with. Doreen Hannes fears “monopoly,” “control,” and diminished overall dairy quality–all the result of some kind of repeat of the setting of costly organic standards, which resulted in giving the biggest advantages to the biggest players….”