FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Armed Authorities Raid Family Farm - Ohio Department of Agriculture Traumatizes Women and Small Children
December 15, 2008--Washington, DC—Using tactics normally reserved for drug dealers, a heavily armed team raided an Ohio family farmhouse on December 1, 2008. Agents herded women and children, the only family members home at the time, into the living room and held them there for eight hours while they ransacked the premises and seized belongings, including food, computers and records. The head of the household, John Stowers was not there at the beginning of the raid. His son, Chad Stowers, who also helps run the coop, is a Navy Seabee currently serving our country in Iraq.
The Stowers are sheep farmers and operate Manna Storehouse, an organic food buying cooperative in LaGrange, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. The agents confiscated one year’s worth of family food, food purchased for coop members, computers and all business records.
The agents possessed a search warrant similar to that used for drug dealers, giving them
permission to take anything and everything. The affidavit authorizing the warrant cited the Stowers for operating a retail food establishment without a license, in violation of Ohio Revised Code 3717.21.
According to Maurice Thompson, Director of the 1851 Constitutional Law Center at the nonprofit Buckeye Institute, exemptions do exist to the code, and they do apply to Manna Storehouse. “Even if these exemptions don’t apply to Manna Storehouse,” said Thompson, “the coop has the right to operate without a retail license because it is a buying club not a selling operation. If the state of Ohio doesn’t return the food taken in the raid, it will have engaged in a taking of a perfectly legitimate private property without compensation, food reserved to feed the Stowers family of twelve.”
Farm buying clubs and coops have become more numerous with the advent of the “buy local” trend and as more consumers seek to support sustainable agriculture. Fresh food farmed using traditional methods like pasture grazing, composting and manure fertilizer can be more expensive than conventional groceries. Buying clubs help families obtain nutritious food at considerable savings over retail establishments.
According to Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, “Authorization of the raid at Manna Storehouse reflects emerging bureaucratic hostility to the dynamics of direct-farm sales. The state has violated not only the rights of Manna Storehouse farmers but also of the coop’s consumer members.”
Local chapters of the Weston A. Price Foundation promote farm-to-consumer direct trade, which often takes the form of private farm buying clubs or coops, such as Manna Storehouse. Volunteer local chapter leaders help their neighbors find sources of locally produced farm fresh food. Many members of the Manna Storehouse coop are also Weston A. Price members or followers of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s nutritional advice.
Because of increasing tensions around the country between farmers and regulators, the Foundation launched the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund in July, 2007. The Fund promotes and protects farmers’ rights to sell farm foods and raw milk directly to the consumer.
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nutrition education non-profit (501c3) which advocates a return to nutrient-dense foods and a diet rich in animal fats from grass-fed animals. Sally Fallon Morell, the founder and president, is a highly respected consumer advocate for natural, whole foods and small-scale, mixed-species, pasture-based farms. The Weston Price Foundation actively promotes grass-fed meats, pasture raised chickens, eggs, fermented vegetables, organ meats and raw milk for their nutritional benefits.
Grass-fed animal foods contain higher levels of nutrients, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K, and will not contain the contaminants routinely found in the products of industrial agriculture. Compared to pasteurized milk, raw milk is easier to digest and less likely to cause allergies; its nutrients are more bio-available.
The organization has 10,500 members worldwide, and 400 local chapters, 17 of which are in Ohio. The Foundation is for Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS, author of the nutritional classic, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The Foundation offices are in Washington, DC. Their websites are: www.westonaprice.org, and http://www.realmilk.com/.
Weston. A Price Foundation Publicist &
Volunteer Chapter Leader for Reston, VA
home office 703-860-2711