The Zinniker farm, in Wisconsin, has been one of the flagship biodynamic farms on this continent for some 70 years. They’ve been dairying for decades. It’s sad to read about their apparent defeat on the raw milk front, by agents of the DATCP, in spite of what sounds like great support from their community of customers. David has the story.
“Strong community support can be undermined by the realities of life, unfortunately. Mark Zinniker, owner of a Wisconsin farm together with his wife, Petra, recounted during the panel discussion just how that can happen. The Zinnikers were among the plaintiffs in the now-famous ruling by Judge Patrick Fiedler in 2011, in which he declared that Wisconsin residents don’t have the right even to own a cow, or if they do, to drink its milk.
The farm has been in the Zinniker family since 1942. “From 1942 to to 2009, we never had any safety issues,” he said. Over that period, beginning in 1985, the farm sold shares in cows to consumers interested in raw milk. When the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) first became aware of the arrangement in 1993, “They claimed we would need separate milk coolers for each cow.”
That bizarre demand was the beginning of an off-again-on-again relationship with DATCP. In 1997, DATCP and the Zinnikers had a “memorandum of understanding” covering the legitimacy of the cow share arrangement…until 2003 when DATCP canceled it. In 2008, the agency re-interpreted its rules to declare all cow ownership arrangements illegal.
Then, in 2009, some 35 Zinniker cow share owners became ill from campylobacter. Though the pathogen was never found in the milk, a large processor to which Zinniker sold milk declined to pick up the dairy’s excess production. If a Wisconsin dairy doesn’t sell to a processor for 30 days or more, it automatically loses its Grade A license….”