There is an old saying.... "We must all hang together, or surely we shall hang one by one".
I choose to stand alongside my consumers and other raw milk farmers when it comes to legal protection. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) provides the legal support we need to stand together. To stand alone is a very lonely, risky and extremely expensive endeavor. I have done this before and it does not work. In our food freedom battle the opposing sides are funded asymmetrically. One side has the farmers, the moms and the truth and the other side has the money (they even have the printing presses for the money) and the lawyers, corporations, corruption and the time to fight.
That's why I encourage you to join FTCLDF and donate now during its annual FundRAISER.
Our food battles rage every day. They do not ebb or grant us rest. They are fought in the minds, guts and souls of market dollar voters, in the legislatures, in the executive and regulatory branches of government and they are fought before the judges of our great country. In order for U.S. citizens to create change, these skirmishes must go forward in all of these places simultaneously. If we rest on one field, we will lose on another.
We need different tools for each of these places. Freedom of speech and education works well in the market places where moms and dads vote with their dollars to bankrupt nutritionally empty foods in favor of healing unprocessed organic whole-foods.
The battles in the legislature are often a matter of those same moms calling and visiting their representatives until the staffers give up and listen to the testimonials and even start to drink raw milk themselves. It may be a matter of jamming the hearing rooms and telling your own heartfelt story of healing. It may be a matter of "just showing up". This is a battle of public opinion...it is won by the loudest and most committed group. It is won by exposing the lies and speaking the truth to power.
The battle waged in the courts is a whole different life form. Yet...it is critical that this venue is not ignored. Precedents are made and laws are interpreted. It is the place that warrants are issued and judgments are made and heard and the police are directed to enforce code. We the people must appear and be intelligent. We cannot plead stupid or ignorant. We must be timely and accurate or we can and will lose it all.
This legal intelligence is expensive...very expensive. It is not something that the lay person or individual farmer can readily afford. But as a group, the very best legal minds can be funded and they can appeal decisions of freedom and democratic content to the highest courts of the land. We can together press our agenda to a better place that defines us as Americans. This is an imperfect process and is filled with hope and less so with predictable wins.
Yet...we must not abandon any of these fields of battle if we intend to prevail and improve our country, our soils, our markets, our health or keep our freedoms.
I have stood next to Gary Cox in front of judges in California legal battles. There is no finer person and or lawyer to be joined in battle with. I have experienced other lawyers in prior battles and never felt like I did when I stood next to Gary. Gary is a partner and intellectually and strategically brilliant. He not only knows the law...but his heart is in the right place. He is fully committed to the peoples' fight and nutrition. He drinks and thinks raw milk.
Some suggest that downright civil unrest and or black markets are the way forward. The recent Rawesome Foods raids in California show a different set of tactics. These over-the-top concepts of noncompliance are very risky. If a farmer in Ohio tried these tactics, he would be most certainly arrested and jailed and heavily fined. In LA, in Venice Beach, there is a different reality. Movie Stars, politicians and others can get away with what has happened at Rawesome. This does not mean that others can do the same thing and get away with it. Who knows what may happen at Rawesome. Outright defiance of a federal police order is a sure way to get into lots of serious trouble. It is also a way to gain media attention and bring the issue into the public arena.
So with every strategy there are both good and not-so-good potentials. Every strategy must match the appetite of the participants. Aajonus is a radical....not very many Amish men or mainstream organic farmers are radicals. So every group of farmers and consumers has their own appetite and path forward for change. We need all of these groups and concepts to work together in complimentary fashion for greatest effect. All of these paths lead to progress. Each of these concepts of change match the levels of risk that each of the groups will embrace. None of them are best...none of them are perfect...but all of them are the portrait of America and the patriotic movement towards food freedom and progress going forward.
Legal miracles do not magically happen every time and the FTCLDF does not win every match...that is the nature of the battle. The much more important reality is that we are in the battle and we are not going home. We will be engaged on the litigation front as well as all the other fronts and we will not retreat. There may be other methods and theories of change...but the theories and procedures of conventional litigation are pretty much set. If others disagree with some of the concepts used by FTCLDF, it is because not enough time has passed and not enough progress has been made in the court of public opinion or in other fields and areas of battle.
Time changes things. Unrest changes things and changing consumer sentiments changes things. We are very early in these battles and much more time must pass before the wins start to come every time. The public needs to see more movies like "Food, Inc.", "Fresh", "Food Matters", and the upcoming "Farmageddon" and "Good Bugs Bad Bugs". These broader educational media will move Americans.
I have my bets placed on Gary Cox and FTCLDF versus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There will come a time when the FDA can no longer hide and they will be subject to subpoena and forced to speak the truth. FDA's lies will be told and exposed and we will prevail.
Remember we have "the truth and the moms"....the truth will always prevail given time. Moms and their babies are the reason for our fight. This is a fight for the health of our future generations and is the highest of causes.
Our wins will be calculated as we prevail on all fields of battle...not just one. This is a huge fight and one that will take years to win.
We must have patience and we must all hang together...all of us, wherever we are, and however we choose to resist, educate and protest will bring the greater progress for us all.
We must all hang together...or surely we will become sickened and hang one by one.
Last revised 8/5/10
This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should it be construed as either a legal opinion or as legal advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or the position of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.