In a new level of intrusion into private contracts between farmers and local customers, mothers who host “drop sites” for their farm buying club are being threatened with criminal charges in Minnesota. Fed up, some consumers are willing to risk arrest rather than have their state dictate food choice. –Kimberly Hartke, Publicist
Minneapolis, MN, May 7, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A civil disobedience action and rally will be held next week to protest the Minneapolis trial of farm buying club manager, Alvin Schlangen. Sponsored by the Farm Food Freedom Coalition, customers and supporters from around the state and country will rally for Schlangen on the first day of his criminal trial on Monday, May 14 at 7:00 a.m., outside the Minneapolis courthouse.
At the rally supporters will sign a “Declaration of Food Independence” and demonstrate non-compliance against what they deem “unjust” regulations. The rally is expected to draw hundreds. Details about the event are on the Raw Milk Freedom Riders website.
Several Minnesota mothers who organize community access to local fresh farm foods plan to risk criminal charges by openly and publicly defying warnings from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). The MDA has threatened several mothers, conducted investigations against them and sent them warning letters that if they continue helping provide fresh food to their friends and neighbors, they will be subject to criminal charges and prosecution. The MDA alleges the Mothers are violating food-handling regulations.
Dozens of individuals who are disgusted with what they regard as MDA’s overly aggressive tactics are expected to join in the same activity as these mothers.
“It is absolutely outrageous that during this time of economic crisis our state government is investigating and sending warning letters to mothers and putting farmers on trial who are helping provide communities with fresh foods. It is my right to contract privately with a farmer for the food of my choice just as it is the right of every American,” says Melinda Olson a mother and recipient of one of the MDA’s letters. “The MDA’s harassment against mothers will not work. We plan to ignore this warning and continue operating as we are. MDA should not waste taxpayer money investigating, prosecuting and jailing peaceful farmers and mothers for helping their communities secure fresh foods. Our time to stand up against this tyranny is now!”
In addition to the threatening letters the MDA sent the mothers, MDA has brought charges against two local farmers for supplying their communities with fresh foods. Mothers who rely on the food and delivery service of one of these farmers, Alvin Schlangen, are facing loss of their food supply if Schlangen is jailed on four misdemeanor charges for providing food to his community. The charges against Schlangen stem from alleged handling of food without a permit, mislabeling food, and handling unprocessed, fresh milk, which is a crime according to the MDA.
Pete Kennedy, Esq., President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, who tracks farm-to-consumer direct trade issues nationally, says, “Nowhere in the country at this time is state action against food freedom and consumer choice more oppressive than in the state of Minnesota.”
Farm Food Freedom Coalition (FFFC) wants to ensure that America’s treasures, our independent farms and ranches, are able to thrive. We aim to preserve our agricultural heritage and the future availability of traditional, farm fresh foods. Americans want and deserve the freedom to choose natural, unprocessed foods for generations to come.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and protects consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods. Concerned citizens can support the FTCLDF, a U.S. based 501(c)(4) nonprofit, by joining or donating online at www.farmtoconsumer.org or by calling 703-208-FARM (3276).