Raids Against America's Small Farms
This list, though not complete, shows many of the incidents that have occurred in the past 7-10 years.
Aggressive and forceful raids against America's small farms, farmers, co-ops and private buying clubs by state and federal regulatory agencies, updated as new information becomes available.
Spring 2004 - Organic Pastures - California
Without notice, the FDA in association with state agencies visited Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) and carried out a multi-day investigation. The initial authority provided at arrival was suggested that the FDA was visiting to look at cheese production. On the second day of the inspection/ investigation an FDA investigator (Special Agent Jennifer King) was found secretly and illegally rapidly taking pictures of customer files of PET food sales and colostrum sales. OPDC demanded that the FDA leave and return the next day so that OPDC attorneys could respond to the illegal and unauthorized taking of customer data and file information. The FDA was found illegally operating outside of its jurisdiction, they were very embarrassed and did not return for five years.
March 6, 2006 - Gary Oaks - Ohio
Gary Oaks was stopped in a Cincinnati parking lot while passing out milk to a dozen shareholders, ordered into cars of plain-clothes agents from Ohio Department of Agriculture (accompanied by Cincinnati Police cruisers) and questioned so intensively, he collapses and is rushed to a hospital. He is released shortly after, and hospitalized three more times during the upcoming six months with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. His shareholders pitch in to milk the cows and deliver milk so as to keep the farm running. Later in the year, he pays a $500 fine to settle the case. Full Report
October 13, 2006 - Richard Hebron - Michigan
Richard Hebron is stopped on Interstate 94 in Michigan, on his way to deliver milk to several hundred shareholders in Ann Arbor. A Michigan State Police cruiser signals his pickup truck over, and orders Richard to get out and put his hands on the hood. The trooper pats him down, and directs him to drive a mile up the road, to a rest area, where four or five Michigan Department of Agriculture agents show a search warrant take his cell phone, and begin off-loading some of the 453 gallons of fresh raw milk he carried in coolers, along with kefir and butter made from raw milk, some $7,000 worth of product-and his wallet and cell phone. After a six-month investigation, a county prosecutor decides against criminal charges, and Richard settles for a $1,000 "administrative" fine. Full Report
August 2006 - Amos Miller - Pennsylvania
Amos Miller Food was red tagged and embargoed. Aajonus Vonderplanitz ghost writes motion to quash. Judge throws the case out of court and quashes the complaint against Ammos Miller. Miller continues supplying food.
February-October 2007 - Greg Niewendorp - Michigan
February: Greg Niewendorp sends legal notice to Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), alienating his property and notifying of non-compliance in the state's unlawful, dangerous experimental TB cattle testing and eradication program. MDA quarantine's his farm.
August 21: Two state police trespass on Niewendorp's property - with a state vet in wait around the corner - to coerce him into testing. Niewendorp escorts them off the property
October 7: The state vet, enforcement agents, and representatives of the MDA, warrant in hand, with police and SWAT teams standing by down the road, trespass on Niewendorp's farm, forcing his cattle to be used for the state's experimental program and RFID ear-tagged for the National Animal Identification System.
April 2007-2008 - Mark Nolt - Pennsylvania
April 2007: Pennsylvania Mennonite dairyman Mark Nolt chooses to not renew his state "permit" to sell fresh milk on his farm, citing his God-given inalienable rights.
August 2007: Nolt's property is raided by federal and state agents; $25,000 worth of milk, milk products and dairy equipment are taken. Following the raid, Mark's customers and supporters organize a rally to support him, drawing media attention, including a detailed editorial in Lancaster Farming,
April 2008: Nolt is raided again, more equipment and property are taken along with milk and milk products, Nolt - father of nine - is charged and taken away by police.
2007 - Organic Pastures Dairy Company - California
The FDA launched a secret sting operation focused on stopping interstate sales of OPDC raw dairy pet food sales. Two undercover FDA investigators posed as OPDC customers and ordered OPDC products from Reno Nevada and Seattle. The order conversations were taped and used as criminal evidence of violation of CFR 1240.61. Then FDA uncover agents then went to the private homes of the two OPDC employees after hours and attempted to get those employees to wear a secret wire. The agents told the young female employees that they would be financially compensated if they wore the wires in an effort to catch Mark McAfee in criminal activity. The employees refused and instead immediately went public and told the media about what the FDA was trying to do. FDA was highly embarrassed and dropped all pending subpoenas and eventually dropped all charges.
Dec. 2008 - Barb and Steve Smith - New York
December 2008 - Stowers Family - Ohio
Stowers family home raided by SWAT team. SWAT team holds the Katie and her children, at gunpoint for more than half a day - all while her husband Chad is serving in Iraq. Here are specifics:
The Stowers filed suit against Ohio officials, and the case has bogged down.
May 1, 2009 - May 2010 - Max Kane - Wisconsin
May 1, 2009: Max Kane served subpoena by Department of Justice to appear and produce records, papers and documents on June 18, 2010 at Vernon County courthouse.
December 21, 2009: Kane's Court date in Viroqua, WI. Judge gave an oral ruling for Max to comply with the subpoena and denied Max's motion to strike, setting Max up for a charge of “Contempt” in the event he refuses to comply.
Febuary 26 , 2010: Kane files a notice of appeal
March 18, 2010: Kane's date for deposition with DATCP to obtain all his records of customers, financials, etc. Just before deposition is to start, Max walks across hallway to clerk, and files with the court a motion for relief pending appeal. Then Max walks back across hallway and serves WI Assistant Attorney General Phil Ferris and DATCP Legal Counsel Cheryl Daniels with a motion for relief pending appeal. Max walks out of building just before the time of the scheduled deposition was to start. Max leaves before he could be disposed.
April 19, 2010: Kane's court hearing date in Viroqua. Counsel Rich argues. Judge Rosborough rules on motion for relief pending appeal and stops DATCP from further enforcement of Kane's case until his appeal process is completed. Judge Roseborough suspend his previously signed order signed January 26, 2010 www.rawmilkparty.com
April 8 and April 15, 2009 - Bechards - Missouri
In Missouri the law is that you can sell raw milk on the farm and deliver it without a permit. The daughters of Conway, Missouri farmers, Armand and Teddi Bechard, allegedly sold raw milk to undercover agents from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in the parking lot of Mama Jeans Natural Food Market in Springfield, Missouri. The city of Springfield filed criminal charges against Armand for operating without a food establishment permit; Springfield Municipal Court found Armand Bechard guilty and fined him $250. Armand appealed the decision to the Greene County Circuit Court and the judge threw out the case, ruling that Bechard was not the proper subject of the lawsuit; any suit should have been filed against his daughters. While the City of Springfield was bringing criminal charges, the State of Missouri petitioned the Greene County Circuit Court for an injunction against Armand and Teddi Bechard to limit their delivery of raw milk to the home of customers; the Bechards had been delivering raw milk to a central distribution point which is more convenient for both the Bechards and their customers. The trial has not been held yet on the state's petition.
October 15, 2009 - Eric Wagoner - Georgia
Officials from the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) searched a truck carrying 110 gallons of raw milk for members of the cooperative, Athens Locally Grown. GDA embargoed the raw milk and ordered the owner of the truck, Eric Wagoner, not to remove it. The milk had been picked up that day from a farm in South Carolina that was licensed to sell raw milk and then brought back into Georgia. On October 19 at the order of GDA (and probably FDA), members of the coop dumped the 110 gallons of raw milk while two officials from GDA and one official from FDA watched. The FDA official told Eric Wagoner that it would even be illegal for an individual consumer to go across state lines to pick up raw milk and then bring it back to their home state. Full Report
February-April 2010 - Dan Allgyer - Pennsylvania
February 2010: Dan Allgyer visited by FDA agents, armed federal marshals and state troopers. He demanded they leave his property since they had no right to be there and no warrant.
April 20, 2010, Pennsylvania - 5:00 AM in the morning: FDA agents, armed federal marshals and state trooper returned to the Allgyer farm with a search warrant. They "investigated" the farm, threatened the farmer and disturbed the family's breakfast because they "suspected" that the farm had too many cows to be providing milk for only the family. They pursued a visitor to the farm a he left the property and followed the visitor for miles through Pennsylvania and into Maryland until the driver called the state troopers for being harassed. FDA agents requested to inspect the vehicle of the visitor, which was empty. Full Report
May-June 2010 - Vernon Hershberger - Wisconsin
Vernon Hershberger's Wisconsin farm store is raided three times by agents from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, escorted by sheriff's deputies. After the first raid in late May, Vernon cuts the DATCP tape on his coolers, and opens to serve his buying club members. In a subsequent raid, agents confiscate his computer. But as of now, no charges have been filed against Hershberger, and he continues in business. Full Report
May-June 2010 - Hartmann's - Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (along with the Minnesota Department Health in May) executed criminal search warrants at the farm of Mike and Diana Hartmann in Gibbon, Minnesota, embargoing thousands of dollars of meat and raw dairy products. The state suspected raw milk from the Hartmann farm was responsible for making people sick with E. coli O157:H7. In June MDA filed a petition with the circuit court in Hartmann's county seeking destruction of the embargoed food. The Hartmanns responded to the petition by filing a counterclaim asking that the embargo be lifted. A trial was held on the matter for ten days during the summer of 2010. In December the judge hearing the case granted the department's petition to have the embargoed food destroyed. In January MDA officials went to the farm and found that most of the embargoed food was gone. Shortly after, MDA filed a petition with the same court to find Mike Hartmann in contempt for violating the embargo. MDA had given Hartmann written permission in June to remove any of the embargoed food for family use. In addition to the contempt petition, MDA has also initiated an administrative proceeding that could ultimately wind up with criminal charges being filed against Mike Hartmann.
June 2010 - Rawsome Buying Club - California
FBI, and other agencies, conduct a heavily armed raid of a private buying club. Watch here The raiders confiscated a significant amount of personal property. Full Report
June 2010 - Rae Lynn Sandvig - Minnesota
Rae Lynn Sandvig, a consumer, wife and mother has her home raided by seven police, MDA investigators with criminal search warrant. Officials were looking for proof that she was "distributing" milk, meat and other foods. Officials threatened Sandvig's neighbors with subpoenas if they did not cooperate with the "investigation." Full Report
June 2010 - Sharon Palmer - California
(2 other times separate)
August 30, 2010 - Morningland Dairy - Missouri
FDA issues a damning press release claiming "Morningland Dairy of Mountain View, Missouri, is recalling 68,957 pounds of cheese because it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and also has the potential to be contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus." Their evidence is ambiguous at best but the resulting loss of revenue has seriously jeopardized the continuing operation of a family small-scale, cheese maker. Full Report
March 9, 2011 - Alvin Schlanger - Minnesota
Alvin Schlanger is picked up by St. Paul police and his truck is confiscated and towed by MDA, at food dropoff point. Full Report
August 6, 2011 - Rawsome Food Club - Venice, CA
For the second time in a year, Rawesome Foods in Venice, California (a private, members only, food co-op) was raided. Owner James Stewart was taken in handcuffs and held on a felony offense. 2 others (Sharon Palmer and Victoria Blcoh) were arrested, all on criminal conspiracy charges stemming from "the alleged illegal production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk, goat cheese and other products.” The raid shut the food club down, taking all the food, computers, money and dumping all the raw milk down the sink. The government put them out of business and took the business away from all the farmers supporting these consumers.