Morningland Dairy Headed to Court

Morningland Calf

Exhibit A- Happy Farmer, Beloved Calf

Missouri Milk Board Declares They Have No Appeal

Morningland Dairy to go to Court

©Doreen Hannes
Those following the saga of Morningland Dairy should be aware that this past week has been a relentless roller coaster ride. On the upside of the roller coaster, many have donated to the Uncheese Party to help the family farmstead business in this battle, and Joe and Denise Dixon, owners of Morningland Dairy, are humbled and grateful for the generosity and dedication those committed to preserving access to real food have shown.

On the downside, the FDA sent a rather nasty toned letter asserting that they consider Morningland cheese “to pose an acute, life-threatening hazard to health.” While not a single report or complaint of illness has been reported in the 30 year history of Morningland, the FDA states in their letter that “because of the seriousness of this situation” Morningland “should conduct inspections for 100% effectiveness at their accounts”. You could accurately translate that to “more downtime, more money out of pocket, less likelihood of recovery,” and you’d be right.

Then, on Friday, the 22nd of October, Morningland received a certified letter from the Missouri Milk Board, that flatly negates the “Objection to Destruction and Offer of Remedy” Morningland sent on October 6th by stating that “No administrative regulations allow the appeal of the State Milk Board’s administrative order…”. So the Missouri Milk Board believes it has no reason to follow due process, nor any requirement to be held accountable for their actions if they feel like destroying someone’s lifelong-work and livelihood.

Charges Levied for Questioning Destruction Order

Apparently, the Missouri Attorney General’s office agrees that the Milk Board is above all, as on Friday, after the close of business, they sent notice of service to the family’s attorney, Gary Cox, from the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) petitioning for a Court Ordered Injunction and charging Joseph and Denise Dixon with three counts of violating state law, as set forth by the Missouri Milk Board.

Morningland Dairy, a licensed, inspected facility that has conducted all required tests, is being charged with “Unlawful Sale of Dairy Products.”

Remember, they have not sold, distributed, or otherwise shared ANY of their cheese since August 26th when the Milk Board first visited with Morningland Dairy and told them about the tests from the California Food and Department of Agriculture.

Joseph and Denise Dixon are also being charged with “Failure to Comply with a Destruction Order.” Evidently, Morningland’s “Objection to Destruction Order and Offer of Remedy” places them in a criminal class because they had the audacity to ask that properly sampled and scientifically accurate tests be conducted on their property before the State destroyed their wealth.

The third charge is like unto the second, “Unlawful Interference with Milk Board Duties.” In Missouri, it is now unlawful to not just roll over and die if the Milk Board suggests you should. It’s seemingly correct to let improperly sampled tests be used to destroy your business, your reputation, your livelihood and your property.

In an additional Petition, the Attorney General is asking the Court to order the destruction of the cheese that has been held in Morningland’s cooler. It says that if the cheese is not destroyed, “the Plaintiff will suffer irreparable injury, loss or damage.” What kind of injury, damage or loss will be suffered by the State isn’t explained. Maybe they will lose face among their bureaucratic cohorts? As is usual in court cases, there is also the request that the Dixons bear the cost of not only the destruction of their cheese, but the cost of the State taking them to court to force them to commit hari-kari as well.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The questions, not unlike the song, remain the same. And the agencies in charge either will not or cannot answer them. It is apparent that Morningland is going to go to court against the State of Missouri, not for making anyone ill, but for providing a product that the FDA (aka the Food Destruction Agency) has targeted for destruction.

There are a lot of questions in this case. When agents can’t even explain the protocol to be followed, or provide any reasonable assurance of resuming normal business, that alone spawns numerous questions. Where is due process for raw dairy? When did agencies achieve the position of being infallible in their assertions? How can agencies destroy businesses with impunity? Is offering to test each batch of uncut cheese prior to selling it capable of causing “irreparable injury, loss or damage” to the State of Missouri, or anyone?

The Morningland battle is not going to end in a quick or painless manner. As a matter of fact, it has already been responsible for the shut down of a viable employer in an area more economically depressed than most of the country. Morningland has already had to dump literally tons of fresh milk, and cease all production and sales. And due to the fact that Colby doesn’t maintain its “colbyness” in prolonged aging, the best estimate is that about half of Morningland’s cheese is no longer true to its nature.

The problems with Morningland’s case cut to the very core of basic human rights. Do we have the right to question at all? Or is there just as much justice available as one can buy? In every country, no matter where or when, it finally comes down to the consent of the governed…What will you consent to?

What You Can Do to Help

If this is the first you have heard of Morningland’s plight, please read the original story Family Farm Ordered to Destroy 50,000 Pounds of Cheese.

We are asking for your non-tax deductible donations to help this farm in distress. Go to The Uncheese Party website for details. Below is a Pledgie widget that shows our goal and our current fundraising total. You can run this on your blog to promote the fundraising effort! Can you imagine the impact of hundreds of websites running this on their sidebars?

Click here to lend your support to: Uncheese Party and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

If everyone gives what they can, we can fully support this farm as they defend their livelihood and our food rights.

doreen-hannesFor several years, Doreen Hannes has been actively exposing the agencies and organizations that desire to control the food supply through international agreements, treaties and the agency rule making and legislative processes. A married homesteader, raiser of food, critters and children, she has dedicated herself to exposing the truth behind the disinformation being spouted by those who would benefit financially from controlling independent agriculture.

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Comments

  1. Leslie Goldman says:

    I started a Petition called Chewing On Food Safety:
    A National Conversation is Needed.

    I am asking for no new Food Safety laws until we all get to sit down and
    talk about what is Real Food Safety.

    Go here to sign the Petition
    http://food.change.org/petitions/view/chewing_on_food_safety_a_national_conversation_is_needed

    Read the Story
    On The Huffington Post
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lesliex/chewing-on-food-safety-a-_b_750967.html

  2. Doreen, another great article. Thank you so much for all that you do.

    People, we ALL need to stand together on this.

    This is not Joe and Denise Dixon’s fight. This is not Armand and Teddi Bechard’s fight. This is not the Estrella family’s fight.

    This is OUR fight, not just for food choice, but for the right to due process and protection from government malfeasance.

    My husband and I have set aside a certain amount from each paycheck to go to the Morningland Uncheese Legal Defense Fund. I encourage others to do the same.

    Each and every dollar makes a difference, folks. Don’t think that because you don’t have much, it doesn’t count: It DOES count.

    YOU count, because YOU make the difference.

    Let’s all stand and be counted together to take back the freedom wrested from us by these governmental bullies. Don’t allow them to continue to gut the Constitution and steal our precious Republic from us!

  3. Alice Kaspar says:

    I have written the AG, the Governor, and the Milk Board. I’ve made phone calls. I’ve donated. I *will* do more!

  4. This is a travesty! I pray that these people prevail or we will continue to be be oppressed by government entities who think they can make our decisions for us concerning even the most basic things including the food we choose to eat/drink!

  5. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Supporters of farmers and food rights can do something! We have had over 50,000 visitors to the Morningland story. If each reader gave $5.00 we would raise the total value of their cheese which the government wants destroyed.

    Click on the link below for the donation button. You can add this to your blog or website sidebar. All money raised is going directly to the Dixon family to help them get through this travesty:

    http://pledgie.com/campaigns/13790

    If we had a crop mob of 50,000, who could be counted on to each give a little something every time a farm is being unfairly targeted, we could raise some powerfully needed funds.

    Think about it!!

  6. Kathy Vimont says:

    The State Milk Board states “No administrative regulations allow the appeal of the State Milk Board’s administrative order…”. I went checking on that in Section 536 of the Missouri Statutes (the Administrative Procedures Act, which the Milk Board is subject to). Check out RSMo 536.053:

    Standing to challenge rule.

    536.053. Any person who is or may be aggrieved by any rule promulgated by a state agency shall have standing to challenge any rule promulgated by a state agency and may bring such an action pursuant to the provisions of section 536.050. Such person shall not be required to exhaust any administrative remedy and shall be considered a nonstate party.

    (L. 1999 S.B. 1, et al.)

    So, if not administrative (and I’m not done researching this yet), there is at least standing to challenge granted by the statutes. And since when do we need a rule/law to “allow” us to appeal a statute or the actions of a government agency?

  7. Tenney Singer says:

    Hello, I found your name on the Uncheese website. As you are interested in raw milk and products, I wanted to let you know of the persecution just happening in Washington state, near my home in Montesano. It is the Estrella Dairy, and they were raided last week and robbed by the Federales of all their artisan cheeses. They may not be able to continue their farm, where they maintain a herd of dairy cows, dairy goats, and raise hogs and chickens on the whey and garden produce trimmings. I am familiar with Weston Price, as I milked my own Jersey cow for 11 years, and sold the milk to friends (no advertising, no publicity, no numbers). I sold my last cow to a friend, and she is continuing the dairy under the radar. It is insane that in “the land of the free” we are not free to raise our own food and sell it to interested buyers, that we have to sneak and hide like criminals for producing natural food the way it was created. Thank you for all you do to publicize and inform on these matters.

  8. Donna Hudson says:

    In 1982 we were attempting to make a living in the impoverished area around Mountain View Missouri. Before we starved out and went to live with relatives, we got to tour a little raw cheese dairy there. When I read this story I got to wondering and looked them up. It has to be the same place. I marvel that they have not just survived there but had done pretty well till this happened. I am sure that the FDA started this after the Rawsome raid, on the assumption that they were dealing with little fly-by-night hippie businesses. I think the best thing that could happen would be for the FDA to apologize for doing their tests on cheese that hadn’t been properly stored for 7 weeks while they had it, and let the whole thing drop. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, so I suppose there’s another way to approach this sort of problem of govt officials gone overboard. Have you heard of the old practice of shunning? Each and every official who is involved with this case has family and friends who could influence their behavior. They live in neighborhoods, and some of them surely go to church. If the smaller people who are pursuing the goal of wiping out all raw dairy products are afraid of their superiors, then their superiors could be shunned. I think that it’s still possible for this whole case to be simply dropped.

  9. Alice Kaspar says:

    My new short letter that I’ll be sending out next week:

    Those of us who know the Dixon family of Morningland Dairy wonder what is motivating the government and regulatory agencies to attempt to destroy this middle America family business.

    The FDA, the Missouri Milk Board, and the Missouri Attorney General’s office have apparently forsaken logic, the law, and the constitutional right to appeal.

    There is no excuse for what our government is doing. This is financial lynching of a business by agencies who are charged to protect the public, not destroy their means to make a living.

    As a participant in this travesty, you have a responsibility to do what you can to stop the persecution of the Dixon family and the Morningland Dairy. It’s the only rational action possible.

    STOP the action against Morningland Dairy.

  10. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Great letter, Alice. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

    When you think of the way people are struggling in this economy, to have this happen to a hard working, productive business is just unconscionable.

    The Missouri Milk Board should be ashamed. The other farmers who are standing idle and watching this happen, they will be next. Clearly, the government is no respecter of persons. What happened here, can now happen ANYWHERE.

    Everyone, sponsor a cheese, just say no to the regulatory abuse of small farms. Click on the pledgie button to give your donation to help this farm survive this trying ordeal.

  11. I live in Mexico. My milkman brings me not only milk but also cheeses he makes. He drives his milk truck around the city and gets out and elks from house to house selling litros of milk for ten pesos. I do not look forward to moving back to the US for several reasons. This is one simple one.

  12. If the FDA collected samples of your cheese, they are required to retain a portion for you to have analyzed by a third party lab. You can exercise that right. You can challenge them if the results are negative. I suspect the FDA Makes up lab results. Subpoena the lab reports.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] more money out of pocket, less likelihood of recovery,” and you’d be right. (Read more here at Harke Is Online!) [Link opens in a new [...]

  2. [...] It all brings to mind the thesis of the renowned economist Joseph Schumpeter, who described entrepreneurship as a process of “creative destruction.” You’ll be hard pressed to come up with a clearer example of creative destruction. *** The Estrella Family Creamery cheese situation seems to have gone from bad to worse, with U.S. marshalls having been called in to seize cheese supposedly made dangerous by listeria monocytogenes. I’d like to think that, for the authorities to go to so much trouble, they must have realistic concerns. But as far as I’m concerned, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration long ago exhausted its credibility, and just made matters worse with the Morningland Dairy situation. (For the latest developments in the Missouri and FDA efforts to deny due process and run roughshod over Morningland, see Doreen Hanes’ latest report.) [...]

  3. [...] And there is even more information on Morningland Dairy here. [...]

  4. [...] “Unlawful Interference with Milk Board Duties”.  The Missouri Milk Board claims that there is no procedure in place to appeal the decision of the Milk Board, and that belief is actually responsible for all three charges [...]

  5. [...] Sale of Dairy Products”, “Unlawful Interference with Milk Board Duties”, and (more here) “Failure to Comply with a Destruction [...]

  6. [...] “Unlawful Sale of Dairy Products”,“Unlawful Interference with Milk Board Duties”, and (more here)“Failure to Comply with a Destruction [...]

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