Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Farmer Wins Stressful 3-Year State Legal Battle -- Raw Dairy Sales Upheld

The Bechards & Gary Cox
Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Armand and Teddi Bechard were following Missouri's raw milk laws when undercover agents from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department bought milk from the Bechard's central delivery location. The agents made undercover purchases twice in 2009 at a health food store parking lot and the Bechards have finally found relief in the battle to continue providing fresh milk to their customers.

During the sting operations, Armand heard from a health department worker:
This is your warning call...my boss doesn't like raw milk in the city of Springfield. And so if you continue to deliver it, you're gonna get a summons.
The video below shows the authorities' dizzying interpretations and stretched definitions of property, sales, and more. The summons attempted a permanent injunction against the Bechards and their posterity. The harassment and amount of action over legal semantics was incredible.

According to Missouri statute, unlicensed farmers can sell and deliver raw dairy, but it was the Missouri State Milk Board that filed a lawsuit to force the Bechards to deliver each sale to the customer's house and prohibit the central distributing location. [Milk Board Staff directory]

On top of the Milk Board action, Greene County D.A. filed suit against Mr. Bechard, accusing him of selling raw dairy outside of his farmland. An appeal acquitted him of the charge early last year.

Why did the Milk Board raise such a fuss over where the Bechards were legally selling their goods? Did the three-year legal battle amply bring a victory for them and other raw milk advocates?

The Missouri State Milk Board is somewhat of a quality assurance branch of Missouri's Department of Agriculture, and was created in 1972 to "encourage" sanitary milk production. It appears they disliked the possibility of random customers being able to walk up and buy fresh milk. They were risking their legal action based on an Attorney General Opinion (or interpretation of the law) from 1973. Attorney General Opinions are not the law. They must have sent the health department agents out undercover because they enlist the health department through contract services.

Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund provided General Counsel Gary Cox to assist in the final settlement. The judge signed a consent judgement where the Bechards cannot sell to "strangers," like anyone who "walks up" to them in the parking lot without some prior sales arrangement.

But, the settlement guarantees that they can sell to whomever they wish and deliver it anywhere: customer's home, a central distribution point like a parking lot, and on their farm. By entering into this settlement, the Bechards are not adding legitimacy to the Board's allegations.

This settlement actually further anchors the Bechards' right to keep providing dairy to their members. It reiterates their right to keep selling from the central delivery location. Although they cannot sell to any stranger who walks up to them, they have more incentive now to bring in members, free from harassment.

The Milk Board, which supposedly oversees sanitation and production went through an awful lot of trouble to ensure that the Bechards were following every jot and tittle of Missouri State law. It was a senseless action because it was not motivated by a sense of public safety, but rather an attempt to shut down a very small production and prohibit raw milk freedom.

It was a rough, emotional three years for the Bechards, but with hope this victory will propel them forward and show others that they have the freedom to do the same.

Here is Armand sharing his story, inspiring and with more legal battles, at a May FundRAISER Dinner at a St. Louis Regional Weston A. Price Conference:

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and protects consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods. Those concerned can support the FTCLDF, a U.S. based 501(c)(4) nonprofit, by joining or donating online at http://www.farmtoconsumer.org or by calling 703-208-FARM (3276).

Read other articles by Heather Callaghan HERE

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Anonymous said...

Only in the last century did we pasteurize milk.
Every human that drank milk before that time
had to drink "raw" milk. Seems like humanity
was just fine drinking raw milk up to that point
huh? As kids, we grew up on a dairy farm, and we
also drank raw milk exclusively. Still alive
and well!

One thing that we should eventually
put into law, is a name attached to whoever is
demanding these ridiculous rules.. All too
often we hear the press say "authorities",
or "officials".. It is easy for some
bureaucrat to hide behind the words
"authorities", or "officials".. The press
is not doing their jobs, and they let them
get away with hiding behind these labels.
If we had real journalists that were not
being complicit, they would dig in and find
out who actually initiated the raw milk rules.
In this case above it is attributed to the
Missouri State Milk Board.. My question is:
Who on that board initiated the rule?
All too often, we never get to hear the name
of the person who initiates these draconian
rules to further destroy our freedom of choice.
They hide behind the authority and official
labels, to make themselves immune from any
scrutiny by the public.. The worst part of all
is that these people were never elected (in
most cases) by the public at large.. They were
either appointed, or worked their way into the
positions from the bottom up. We, the public
must go by the rules from someone that we
had no choice in electing? There is also next
to nothing that we can do to get them back out
of that position, if we find their rules
unacceptable! At least if you don't like your
county sheriff, you can vote him out next time
you go to the poles.. Most bureaucrats are not
elected officials though and you can't get them
out .. ever! Dear press, do your job and find
out the specific person responsible for each
and every draconian piece of legislation and
for each rule as well, and then print that
name in each story, so that we can read who
this person is. So even though we can't most
likely vote them out, we at least who know
not to serve at a restaurant next time, or
refuse to repair their automobile if it should
need to be fixed etc.
At least we can make their lives a little more
miserable like they do ours!

Anonymous said...

Gubersments are idodic institutions run by idodic gubers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with OP. Journalists should turn over the stone and out the bureaucrats who hide behind there positions.

I suspect these stuffed shirts would think twice before enforcing immoral laws if they know their names would also be written in the media in association with their actions.

Heather Callaghan said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I do try to list names and even contacts. In this case, it is settled - but you're right! Too many times, these guys are appointed or work their way up and aggressively enforce codes - they wrongly supersede law and our freedoms!

I will try to update the article. Here is the link to the Milk Board Staff:


And, the staff of the Springfield-Greene Co. Health Dept which works for the Milk Board through contract services:


Leslie said...

It would be lovely if governments would stop wasting their time and our money harassing people over non-issues, like whether people choose to drink raw milk.

Anonymous said...

Raw milk,; the king of foods.

Just had a big bowl of cereal, pecans, raisins, dates and blueberries. Add the raw milk and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon and I'm much happier and healthier than a clam. Or a bureaucrat.

Anonymous said...

Heather, I wasn't referring to you when I slammed
journalists for not providing names, but thanks
for your inclusion updates on the perpetrators!
What my gripe is, has to do with mostly
television prompter readers.. Or the scrolling
news ticker.. Just count how many times a day,
you see "authorities have said" or "Officials
have said".. Your article was done well, and
it wasn't you that I have the gripe with. Good
job though and thanks for the update! And as
anon number three said, (which is the whole
intention) the stuffed shirts would think
twice about their draconian rules, if we the
people knew who they were.

I wonder what our bureaucrats would do if we
were like the Chinese? They hang theirs when
they do things that are out of round!
I'll bet they would be a little bit more

There is a huge problem in our country with
these cubicle dwellers. Unnamed, unelected
people pushing their misguided thought patterns
over on the rest of humanity! Milk in any
form should be a God given right for humanity
to consume. Sometime between now and my youth,
it suddenly became illegal? Remember what they
did to Rawsome foods? Wow, is all I can say!
Goon squads pointing guns at employees?
Back in the good old days real men or even
one real man would come and talk to you..
They didn't have to come by the dozen wearing
their darth vader clown outfits and pointing
assault rifles at you and grandma, and kill
your dog because they were afraid of it.

Not to change the subject, but there is another
thing I think you should research Heather, and
perhaps do an article on the following:

There have been new rules applied to truck
drivers that took effect in January of this
year. Trucking companies are losing in some
cases up to 20 percent of their over the road
drivers because of some cubicle dweller
deciding once again to make up new rules!
The trucking companies are really getting upset
over this too! The points are now taken off
of their CDL (Commercial Drivers License) even
if they are issued a warning ticket for any
violation! The trouble with a warning ticket is
that you can't defend against it since it never
gets to court, but yet you lose the points on
your license just as if you had been found
guilty of the violation! Right now it
is 20 percent less drivers in many cases, but
the new rule is causing a snowball effect.
Think of when it reaches 40 percent! Freight
rates will go through the roof, on top of
the expensive fuel prices.. This will do two
1. Drive up costs to the consumer on a massive
2. Will cause shortages of goods all over
the country, if there is no one to drive them
to market.

We are letting rule makers destroy our country
a little bit each day.. This one is already
being felt in the trucking industry. We
actually have some companies that are so hard
up to find drivers that they are flying
airplanes around the city with banners looking
for drivers.. They are also running radio ads
like crazy looking for new drivers. All of this
because another faceless, nameless bureaucrat
got up one morning and decided to make life
miserable once again for everyone else. Power
mad people, that we can't even identify!

Anonymous said...

I love raw milk! Fuck the FDA. Fuck the GCHD and who ever the weasel boss is! "They" should have paid-off the judge/jury during the trial. Isn't that hows it done in Amerika?

Anonymous said...

nice,now counter sue these moth#%^%$ fu$#$%% in civil court ,sue them for every fucking dime they have....

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