By Mark Anderson
The growing movement for localized food production and distribution, which sidesteps our wondrous global “free trade” system, makes “the powers that ought not to be”—including corporate farm interests that collude with lawmakers—rather jittery. Consider the case of raw-milk farmers Armand and Teddi Bechard, who managed to win a battle they did not choose with Missouri officials.
The Bechard family’s 117-acre farm in southwest Missouri includes 90 acres of grassland for feeding their Jersey cows. They often sell their raw milk and cream at an area parking lot. In so doing, however, the Bechards unwittingly collided with city and state regulations. A police sting operation was set up by local and state authorities, and soon their ordeal began.
The city of Springfield claimed the Bechards were operating a “food establishment” and that only “Grade A” milk could be sold at such an establishment. But since the raw milk was not graded as such, “I was in violation of the law,” Armand told a St. Louis audience in May.
Concerning the state level, the Bechards were not supposed to sell their milk to anyone who “walks up” to them, who had not made previous arrangements to purchase raw milk or cream.
While other legal details could be cited, the result is that after a three-year legal battle that took a heavy toll on the Bechards and their seven children, they can now deliver their raw milk as freely as any sane person could expect.
Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) general counsel Gary Cox is well versed on how to stand up for farming rights and general property rights. Cox gave a detailed address at an Ohio organic farming conference in December covered by this AMERICAN FREE PRESS writer.
He summarized the Bechard family’s case:
On July 31, Armand and Teddi Bechard entered into a settlement agreement with the Missouri State Milk Board over allegations that the Bechards illegally sold raw milk at a parking lot. The consent judgment, signed by Judge Michael J. Cordonnier, enjoins the Bechards from selling milk to “strangers” who have not previously arranged for . . . the purchase of raw milk from the Bechards. However, the Bechards are free to sell raw milk to anyone they want—and after the sale has been arranged—[they] can deliver the raw milk anywhere they want. In fact, the Bechards are allowed to deliver the raw milk to the customer’s home, to a central distribution point like a parking lot in a shopping center or to the customer [visiting] the Bechards’ own farm. In entering into the consent judgment, the Bechards did not make any admissions to any of the State Milk Board’s claims or allegations.
The FTCLDF has agreed to also represent Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger in his upcoming criminal trial for allegedly violating Wisconsin’s food and dairy code.
“The trial was originally supposed to take place on September 25 in Sauk County Circuit Court . . . but Judge Guy Reynolds has postponed the trial until January 7 ,” noted an FTCLDF news release.
Among other things, Hershberger has been charged with “operating a retail food establishment without a license,” and with “operating a dairy farm as a milk producer without a license.” The court’s ruling “could have a huge impact on the availability of raw milk for Wisconsin consumers,” the news release added.
Raw milk producers and sellers nationwide, amid a patchwork of state laws that differ sharply, fight for the right to deliver their product to consumers, amid a growing awareness that raw milk contains critical enzymes and good bacteria to build the intestinal flora needed for proper digestion and to foster perhaps the best insurance for optimal health—a strong immune system. Pasteurization kills the good bacteria and enzymes.
Any kind of milk can be tainted or can spoil and sicken the consumer. Much depends on the sanitation practices in production facilities, yet the noted health benefits of raw dairy products could be more widely enjoyed to prevent illness and promote good health on a big scale if a fair marketplace is established without over-regulation.
Revolutionary Fish Hatchery Reduces Toxins
•Ontario man pioneers new way of raising healthier fish while conserving water, lessening pollution in waterways
By Mark Anderson
An Ontario resident has created a revolutionary fish hatchery technology that can, among other things, produce healthy fish for people to eat while conserving water and reducing pollution that is typically dumped into waterways in more traditional methods. Despite using one-tenth of the groundwater as is used by government hatcheries, John Devine’s system has long been ignored and suppressed by those in big corporate media and government, much to the detriment of human health, the food supply and the economy.
At a time when droughts have been particularly severe, typical “open” (water in, water out), traditional fish hatcheries extract a whopping 2K gallons of water per minute from aquifers.
“Hatcheries need clean water; you cannot use surface water,” said Devine. This is largely due to the fact that surface water is contaminated with man-made or naturally occurring pollutants.
But the closed-loop system used by Devine, along with his son, Mark, draws water from the aquifer at a much slower rate, since 90% of what is taken in is carefully cleaned and recycled back to the fish, so they can continue to thrive.
“The water goes through a settling system where the water slows down and the ‘fish solids’ fall to the bottom,” Devine said. These solids are the fish excretions (bodily waste). The outcome: The oxygen in the water is replenished, the ammonia from the fish excretions is stripped, the solids are removed as noted, and any remaining harmful bacteria are killed. Bio-filters and ultraviolet technology are incorporated to help accomplish this overall result.
The 10 percent of fresh water needed from the aquifer is “make-up” water to offset the mere 10% that is discharged into the environment, having been cleaned to the point that the outside environment will be unaffected.
Devine, who worked for Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources, noted that while some “recycling” hatcheries clean the water before discharging it, their treatments do not lessen aquifer impact. Typical open systems that dump raw discharge into the environment pose a major hazard.
“Every Ontario government fish hatchery has a polluting factor of (that is, affecting) 20K people,” Devine said, referring to an assessment by biologist Gary Chapman, formerly with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources.
Devine left his government post in 1985, networked with others, improved the closed-loop technology and established a business called Fisherman’s Cove. But Canadian authorities colluded with tribal interests who wanted to build a new facility called Casino Rama. The wide highway paved expressly for the new casino vivisected Devine’s land and destroyed the business.
Ever since, Devine has been laboring against often-hostile corporate, government and media forces to educate the public about this water technology—which could be improved upon even more to bring much healthier fishes to dinner plates, while drastically reducing both groundwater usage and the discharge of foul pollutants into the environment.
Furthermore, widely used baitfishes, such as minnows, could be raised in such closed-loop fish farms instead of being massively extracted from the environment by wholesalers and stored in holding systems with a high mortality rate, which means netting even more baitfishes to sell to recreational fishermen.
The government, said Devine, hatches game-fish to put into the lakes and rivers—instead of responsibly farming baitfish, populating the waters with them and allowing existing gamefish populations to find their natural balance. Meanwhile, gamefish raised in government farms are often fed with baitfish netted en masse from the oceans—all of which risks causing grave imbalances, shortages of fish (a major human protein source) and sharp price increases.
“To make a pound of [edible] fish, you need one and one-quarter pounds of baitfish,” Devine said.
Mark Anderson is the roving editor for AFP. Listen to Mark’s radio show at republicbroadcasting.org; email him at [email protected].