“Around nine o’clock on a cold Wednesday morning in early March 2011, Alvin Schlangen pulled his white delivery van into a parking lot between a snow-covered athletic field and a vegetarian housing co-op near Macalester College in St. Paul. As soon as he parked, two police cars and a third unmarked car drove in, trapping him there.
Schlangen was not expecting this, at least not today. Nonetheless, he was prepared. On the sliding door of the van’s passenger side, he had attached a no-trespassing sign, which read:“PRIVATE – Not a Public Area! Warning to ALL State and Federal Officials and Informants: You must have an appointment and permission from the owner to enter.” Continue reading →
“First, the judge in the administrative case launched by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture against Alvin Schlangen put a hold on the agency’s attempt to score a quick legal victory against the farmer. The MDA fileda motion in a state administrative court for summary disposition against Schlangen, growing out of MDA administrative hearings earlier this year in which Schlangen was declared in violation of Minnsesota dairy and food licensing regulations by distributing food to members of his food club.
As part of these latest proceedings, the MDA (via the Minnesota Attorney General) asked the judge in the case to rule in its favor because Schlangen hadn’t filed the requisite responses in the agency’s administrative case earlier this year by the required deadlines. Schlangen’s FTCLDF lawyer, Nathan Hansen, argued that the farmer didn’t have proper legal representation to handle the paperwork. Several days ago, the judge denied the MDA’s request to penalize Schlangen for being late in filing his papers, and asked some pointed questions of the MDA. Continue reading →
“What were the key factors that swayed the Minnesota jury to acquit food club operator and farmer Alvin Schlangen three weeks ago?
Schlangen’s lawyer, Nathan Hansen, told me he thought the fact that Minnesota Department of Agriculture investigators in their courtroom testimony were inconsistent in defining “occasional” raw milk sales may have swayed the situation. One investigator said three or more purchases during any month and another said six purchases a month exceeded the bounds of “occasional”.
The MDA in its defiant statement issued immediately after the acquittals were announced September 20 suggested that the jurors agonized and could have gone either way except for some unknown arbitrary issue or another–” the fact that the jurors deliberated for as long as they did shows that they found the decision a difficult one to make.” Continue reading →
by Susie Zahratka in collaboration with Kathryn Niflis Johnson
Canadian raw milk pioneer and advocate Michael Schmidt with Alvin Schlangen at one of the pretrial events in the US organized by the Raw Milk Freedom Riders. Photo courtesy of Michael Schmidt
Smiling faces, hugs, and children happily playing. Is this the scene of a family reunion, or a playgroup? No, this is the scene each day for four days outside the courtroom where friend, farmer and buying club manager, Alvin Schlangen, sits, listens and waits as a jury of six decides whether or not connecting families with nutrient-dense foods will land him in jail. Continue reading →
Alvin Schlangen with supporters after the verdict. Star Tribune photo by Bruce Bisping
“A Hennepin County jury Thursday found a Stearns County farmer not guilty of violating the state’s food safety laws when he distributed raw milk from an Amish farm to Twin Cities customers. Continue reading →
Minneapolis, MN –This week in a Minneapolis courtroom, Alvin Schlangen, a farmer from Freeport, MN, hears from a jury if he will serve jail time for connecting people with nutrient-dense foods. Alvin and other volunteers are part of a private food club that holds a lease on farm animals for food provisions. The arrangement serves to make a legal connection between farm food and city inhabitants.
The case the State is building against Schlangen dates back to June of 2010, when the Schlangen farm was searched following the raid and subsequent closure of the Traditional Foods Warehouse. In 2011, the MDA inspected Schlangen’s farm vehicle without a warrant where the MDA then illegally seized food owned by the private food club. The food was valued at thousands of dollars. Continue reading →
Charlene Chan-Muehlbauer and her daughter, Amanda, stand in the garage that is used as a monthly drop site for Sibley County farmer Mike Hartmann’s raw milk products. Photo and caption via Daily Planet.
“For north St. Anthony Park resident Charlene Chan-Muehlbauer, it all comes down to the health of her 22-year-old daughter. “To protect [her] access to raw milk,” says Chan-Muehlbauer, “I’m willing to go to jail. But to be jailed for something like this—it’s just wrong.”
Chan-Muehlbauer is reacting to the latest development in a long-running dispute between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and families like hers, who believe so strongly in the nutritional and curative properties of unpasteurized milk that they’re willing to risk legal sanctions in order to get it. Continue reading →
Michael Schmidt with David E. Gumpert, at the public rally in support of farmer Alvin Schlangen, in Minneapolis last Monday. Pboto by Jennifer Lindahl
“Food rights proponents got another civics lesson today when Alvin Schlangen’s jury trial on four misdemeanor charges, due to begin next Monday, was put off indefinitely.
It is easy for food rights proponents who participated in protest activities in Minnesota in recent days to think they’re not being noticed. In point of fact, they are being noticed, big time. Continue reading →
Alvin Schlangen, speaking with Liz Reitzig, hopes his supporters are taking his t-shirt message to heart. Photo via The Complete Patient blog.
“”We will not comply!”
That was the rallying cry from Raw Milk Freedom Riders leader Liz Reitzig and 200 participants at the Minneapolis demonstration Monday in support of Alvin Schlangen.
That was also the message when I visited the home of one of the moms targeted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for warnings of possible criminal action for allowing the home to be used as a drop site for farmer Michael Hartmann. The talk there was of anticipating possible actions by the MDA, and making sure, whatever the agency comes up with, not to comply. (You can be sure the agency has its lawyers and police advisers hard at work at figuring out options for trying to force compliance.) Continue reading →
"Bernard is right; the pathogen is nothing; the terrain is everything."
-- Louis Pasteur's deathbed words
"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that 'an unjust law is no law at all'." (Martin Luther King - Letter from Birmingham Prison, Alabama)