Good cop, bad cop games in Maine

From David E. Gumpert on The Complete Patient blog:

“The  good-cop-bad-cop routine is one of the oldest in law enforcement. Talk  with me, goes the advice to the criminal suspect from the nice-guy cop, or I’ll  send in our junk yard dog, and you don’t want to deal with him. Lord knows what he’ll do to get you to cough up the real story, and he’ll make sure  you get a long jail sentence to boot.

Regulators  from the Maine Department of Agriculture have been playing the  good-cop-bad-cop game with proponents of Food Sovereignty, in an effort  to convince them to back off from their fight on behalf of Dan Brown,  the farmer who has been sued in a test case over whether the Food  Sovereignty ordinances passed by eight Maine towns (including his town  of Blue Hill)  are legal. At the same time, the Maine regulators work closely with the federal regulators and, as I suggested in Part 1 of this series, have even indicated a preference for the federal hard line on food rights over their own governor’s inclination toward compromise. 

One  of the proponents they have played this good-cop-bad-cop game with is Heather Retberg, a farmer and one of the organizers of Maine’s Food Sovereignty initiative.  Like Brown, she has refused to apply for a state permit to sell raw  milk, asserting her right to sell privately, under the Food Sovereignty  ordinance passed last year by her town of Penobscot. But according to  nearly 700 pages of emails and other documents obtained by lawyers for  Dan Brown, the Maine Department of Agriculture has told Retberg she  could well be the next farmer sued by the state.

In  correspondence with Retberg earlier this year, she questioned a Maine  ag official about whether the agency would be able to protect her from  possible enforcement action by the FDA. She attached information from an  owner of Estrella Cheese, which was shut down by the FDA in 2010.  Retberg said that Estrella was “a licensed, price winning cheese maker  in Washington state who had worked well and favorably with her Department of Agriculture, but was left unprotected from FDA aggression  and is still struggling through an awful ordeal and has ceased making  cheese and may yet need to sell the farm.”

To  which Steve Giguere, a Maine Department of Agriculture program manager responded:  “If FDA attempts to regulate in-state sales of raw milk and  we can show results of high quality milk being produced by licensed  distributors who meet the standards for quality set out in the PMO  (Pasteurized Milk Ordinance) we can make a very good case that Federal  intervention is not necessary.” …”

Read more on The Complete Patient blog.

1 Comment

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One response to “Good cop, bad cop games in Maine

  1. We have to fight the correct battles as Henry David Thoreau said:
    “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The one obvious root in this case is the unconstitutional FDA. Our criminal justice system and political system are so broke I have no hope of ever dismantling it any time soon. Much more likely would be a nullification of everything that FDA does or has done by the Maine legislature.
    The legal legs for this are well established IMHO. All this would take would be a large public outcry.

    Heather Retberg “asserting her right to sell privately, under the Food Sovereignty ordinance passed last year by her town of Penobscot.” IMHO does not have a legal leg to stand on because while the system pays lip service to the people being sovereign (we are) in reality the States have complete sovereignty in most matters. I see jury nullification as a valid and workable tactic here.

    Politicians are afraid of the people and if enough people get outraged they WILL back off. But that will not change nothing as they can come back any time and start again. If Maine has ballot initiatives that could also be a good tactic for the local food movement while they have this political collateral. What we need are permanent solutions that strike at the root and not to focus on symptoms.

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