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Missouri's crackdown on raw milk leaves sour taste

By Jonathan Bender | The Pitch - Kansas City

A lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office, seeking an injunction against Bechard Family Farm over the alleged sale of raw milk, has critics up in arms over what they see as government over-regulation.

According to the suit, on two separate occasions undercover state investigators watched as two young women sold a gallon each of raw milk in a Springfield parking lot. Mike Adams, the editor of, is irate at what he sees as unfair enforcement:

In case you're not yet sure what you're reading here, note carefully that these daughters were not caught selling crack, meth or crank. They weren't dealing second-hand pharmaceuticals to yuppie school kids. They weren't selling e.coli-contaminated hamburger meat, cancer-causing diet sodas (made with aspartame) or canned soups laced with MSG. They weren't even selling broiler chickens contaminated with salmonella -- just as you can find in every grocery store in America. Nope, they were selling raw milk. You know, the bovine mother's milk, unpasteurized, unprocessed, non-homogenized and wholly pure, natural and innocent. The stuff America was raised on. The stuff your parents fed you when you were a kid, if your family was lucky enough to have a cow.

The tension between existing laws that fail to cover family farm operations and a burgeoning locavore movement continues across Missouri. In Kansas City, neighbors have complained and city officials have accused Bad Seed Farm of violating zoning laws. It appears the law hasn't caught up to the reality of both urban agriculture and small rural operations.

The Springfield News-Leader has written an editorial opposing the lawsuit, arguing, in effect, that this case requires a conversation rather than a court date:

If health officials or the Missouri State Milk Board want to establish broader rules for licensing, inspection and delivery of this product, they should make their case to supportive lawmakers. If they can't, then operations like the Bechards need to be left alone.
It's cases like these that will determine what local food and food safety laws look like in Missouri. The Bechard family and others like them are unfortunately the test subjects.

[Image via Flickr: kthread]
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