IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION ON JUNE 3 THAT THE JUDGE HAS POSTPONED THE TRIAL SET FOR JUNE 4, 2010.
A family who owns and operates a small farm and natural food ministry offers farm, fresh milk (raw) to their customers now face 180 days in jail and stand to lose their farm. It is called Bechard Family Farm and they raise turkeys, pork, beef, chickens, eggs and make soap. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department in Springfield, Missouri, says the Bechard teenage daughters sold their undercover agents two gallons of raw milk at one of the customer delivery points . The health department employees did not identity themselves. The father, Armand Bechard, who was not there at the time is being charged because he is the producer of the milk. Both the City and State are suing him.
Friday (June 4, 2010), the local trial is being held and many in Missouri and around the U.S. are watching. As many as 100 folks–perhaps many more– are showing up for the court and rally in support of the Bechards. There were 60 at the previous hearing as reported in the Journal back in March. The Alliance for Raw Milk Internationale (ARMi) and its Missouri ARMi division started a Fundraiser today to help with the mounting legal expenses. (Armand was badly injured last week when a car fell on him: he was under the car when the jack failed. He is expected to be in good enough shape to stand trial.)
The State also is also suing Armand for the same offense and the Attorney General has been busy mounting up for the case. The AG is representing the State Milk Board. The Supervisor at the health department has been recently appointed as Chairman of the Milk Board. The State is seeking to prevent the Bechards from using a central distribution point to sell raw milk to customers who pay in advance, while the city is suing because they did not have a food service permit for what is defined as a “food establishment”—but they will not give them a permit.
The Bechards want to win and help to keep the state from tightening down on rules. Armand said the City has no proof it was his daughters who sold the milk (to the agents that demanded it from the kids.)
I spoke to the Bechard’s for an hour this week and today I had a 30-minute telecon with the Karen Prescott, Supervisor at the Health Department in order to sniff all of this out. Prescott reiterated that to deliver to a customer in the city is permissible but one cannot sell to a new customer off the street, such as her employees. Asked why a permit could not be issued, Prescott said “the raw milk is not from an approved source.” (The list is developed and controlled be committees of bureaucrats from FDA, USDA, HHS and those in big Ag, Food, and Pharma–then adapted by their counterparts in each states)
She said that people do not have to drive up to two hours to get their milk from Bechard’s farm; there are many farms offering raw milk in Missouri on Craig’s List.
There is always more to the story– and there is more to come. It seems as if the city could have simply issued a notice of violation, if there was legitimate, anonymous complaint to begin with. That is standard procedure– not attaching it to a court summons at the same time. The City and the State are together on this and want to make it a big point. I will make my big point: I think that we are being Buffaloed by Springfield and the Show Me State.– Augie
The Missouri law states this:
Only pasteurized graded fluid milk and fluid milk products as defined in subdivision (3) of section 196.931 shall be sold to the final consumer, or to restaurants, soda fountains, grocery stores, or similar establishments; except an individual may purchase and have delivered to him for his own use raw milk or cream from a farm.
Anybody on Facebook can make a donation for the ARMi fundraiser for the Bechards. From there you can go to the Event Posting and show your support. All who love raw milk and support the freedom of choice are encouraged to attend the trial and rally before and after. (as low as $5—every little bit helps).
If I lived in Missouri (or any state– as the legal precedent affects all states) I would be tempted to pick up the phone, call the Springfield health department and register a formal, anonymous complaint for their actions and overreactions. (if you are not donating, its the least you can do) They have to make a record of it. (If you do, please state also in the comments– it is important.)
- Phone: 417-864-1658
- Fax: 417-864-1099
BREAKING NOW: AMISH BUSTED IN WISCONSIN FOR RAW https://wholefoodusa.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/alert-amishman-busted-for-raw-milk/
Two stories and a video news cast are provided here.