Support Litigation Fund for Dairy Farmers
In one of the more draconian enforcement actions ever taken against raw milk producers, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) brought criminal charges against the farmers of nine different raw milk dairies for violations of that country’s Raw Milk for Sale to Consumers Regulations 2015 (the “2015 regulations”). Some of the defendants have also been charged with violations of the Animal Products Act (APA). The raw milk charges assert that by engaging in the supply of raw cow milk “a direct or indirect risk to human or animal health would be created.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is aware of specific charges against three of the farms (two of the three are operated by pensioners). Cedric Backhouse and his wife (WAPF chapter leader Susan Gales) of Alt Energy Farm are each being charged with 26 violations of the 2015 regulations and the APA related to the distribution of raw milk and meat through a herdshare agreement; the potential penalties for each defendant are up to 19 years in jail and $1.8 million (over $1.25 million in U.S. dollars) in fines.
Phillippa (Pip) Martin and John Martin of Manna Milk are each facing seven charges with penalties of up to 12 years in jail and $545,000 in fines (over $380,000 US) for alleged violations of the 2015 regulations and the APA related to the distribution of raw milk through a limited partnership agreement.
Paul and Christine Ashton of Lindsay Farms are each facing five charges with penalties up to eight years in jail and $320,000 in fines (over $225,000 US) for alleged violations of the 2015 regulations related to the distribution of raw milk through a limited partnership agreement.
A majority of the farmers charged were operating under a herdshare or a limited partnership business model as a matter of survival after MPI issued the 2015 regulations affecting raw milk production and sales (the regulations went into effect in March 2016). The ministry promulgated the regulations as a result of a 2014 foodborne illness outbreak associated (or blamed on) raw milk consumption where seven people became ill.
The number of dairies selling or distributing raw milk is a fraction of what it was before MPI imposed the new regulations. It is considerably more difficult for the remaining dairies to make a living than it was five years ago. MPI’s enforcement action against the farmers–in addition to putting the charged farms out of business–is designed to create a chilling effect on the remaining farms and on farmers thinking of starting up a raw milk business.
ACTION TO TAKE
WAPF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is accepting donations to help pay legal expenses for the charged farmers. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. To donate, please use the link here (westonaprice.org/donate) and indicate the fund for ‘New Zealand raw milk’. (For those wanting to send a check, please specify that it is for “New Zealand raw milk”.)
Before the 2015 regulations went into effect, it was estimated that as many as 200 farms were selling or distributing raw milk in New Zealand; today there could be less than 20% of that number still left.
A. Compliance Barriers
The cost to raw milk farms to comply with the 2015 regulations was in the range of $10,000-$20,000 per year for each farm regardless of what the farm’s production volume was—an expenditure that many farms could not afford. Beyond that, there were several ways that the new requirements significantly hurt the farmers’ ability to make a living.
1. Depot Permits and Burdens
Before 2016, farmers were able to deliver raw milk to a central distribution point (also known as a “depot”), a necessity given the distance between most farms and their customers plus the substantial amount of extra time it takes to deliver door-to-door. The new regulations required a permit for each depot the farmers were delivering to; otherwise, sales were limited to on-farm and to customer premises. Given the estimated cost of permitting each depot, out of the 26 raw milk farms that have registered with MPI (registration was also a requirement in the 2015 regulations), only one has obtained depot permits. Any customer wanting to pick up milk at the depot had to be registered with MPI as a transport operator. There are numerous recordkeeping requirements for a transport operator even when that individual is picking up milk for his or her own family.
2. Sell-by and Use-by Constraints
The most damaging provisions for farmers in the new regulations were sell-by and used-by requirements for raw milk. The regulation for a sell-by time states the following:
“The sell-by time for a lot of milk is the time that is the 30 hours after the commencement of milking for the oldest milk in that lot. (For example, if milking commenced at 7am on Monday 4 June, the sell-by time is 1pm on Tuesday 5 June, even if milk from a subsequent milking is added to that lot.).”
One of the registered farms estimated that this mandate cost them 30% of their business since the farm was unable to meet the time constraints in getting the milk to its more distant customers.
The requirement for the use-by date for raw milk “is 4 days after the commencement of milking for the oldest milk in the lot.”
Another onerous mandate for the farmers is on testing. Dairies are required to test for five different pathogens, coliforms, plate count, somatic cell counts, and “inhibitory substances” every 10 days. Estimates for the cost of testing are around $750 per month.
Lastly, the regulations require that farmers not only keep customer names on file for MPI inspection but also every transaction with each customer as well.
B. Alternate Business Models
Many dairies, knowing they couldn’t afford the cost of compliance with the new regulations, went out of business before the new law took effect. Others–believing their only way to stay afloat was to not have to comply with the 2015 regulations–set up business models such as herdshare programs and limited partnership agreements, proceeding in good faith that giving their customers an ownership interest in their dairy livestock would exempt them from the new requirements.
C. MPI Raids
When fewer raw milk producers registered than MPI had anticipated, in 2019 the ministry launched “Operation Caravan”, an investigation of dairies that MPI suspected were not complying with the new regulations. The investigation included the extensive use of MPI undercover operatives. In December 2019 MPI obtained search warrants and raided eight raw milk farms and farmers’ homes around the country, seizing everything from customer lists to computer hard drives. Some of the raided farms shut down; others kept on going. After a year-long investigation, MPI filed criminal charges in December 2020. The Ashtons had registered Lindsay Farm with MPI months earlier, having been told by the ministry that any potential charges would go away if the farm was registered.
Backhouse and Galea are each charged with 17 counts of selling or offering to sell illegally home-killed meat; each count lists the amount allegedly sold as under $100 and one was for only $15.40. The potential fine for each of the 17 charges is up to $75,000. MPI has never accused Backhouse and Galea of making anyone sick with the milk or meat they produced.
An attorney representing one of the charged farmers has been unable to find evidence that any of the charged farmers made anyone ill with the milk they produced. Under the law, MPI can only prosecute those whose products pose a public health risk.
Arraignment for defendants is scheduled to take place in March.The accused farmers and the 250,000 New Zealand residents who consume raw milk need your support.
Please contribute to this effort to protect freedom of choice, strong local food systems, and the right of small farmers to make a living producing nutrient-dense food.
Thanks for your generosity and your help in spreading the word.
To donate, please use the link here (westonaprice.org/donate) and indicate the fund for ‘New Zealand raw milk’. (For those wanting to send a check, please specify that it is for “New Zealand raw milk”.)🖨️ Print post
nancy pauken says
Producing and drinking raw milk are not crimes, yet at least these NZ producers are being threatened with prosecution. Apparently it’s perfectly all right for factory farmers to mistreat their animals and feed them toxic feeds that make them (and us) sick, but not humanely-raised raw milk from animals that are raised on pasture, living the way nature intends. Those of us who want raw milk should have access to it, with no restrictions.
Watc Her says
What country are you writing from Nancy? What feeds are you referring too, berating factory farmers in such a fashion, when you obviously have very little knowledge of the industry, what toxic feeds are you talking about?
American Kiwi says
“Watc Her” Are you implying the NZ non-organic herds are generally raised better and consume less grain (especially GMO) and more grass, antibiotics, bovine growth hormones and a lot of other deleterious to animal health substances (and, to my knowledge for cattle, there are no NZ based concentrated animal feedlot operations) compared to many other countries? If so, I will agree with that implication and that our cattle, overall, are in a better current state. Or, are you saying those types of things are of no negative consequence to cattle health?
Legal or lawful
Well we are talking about law so let’s go with lawful
And so we continue
The man in court does not have a delegation of authority order
So you see
By law to be a judge you have to have and be able to present upon demand a delegation of authority order
If you can not present a delegation of authority order upon demand you are in fact only an actor
Working for the popes of Rome
Literally paid actors
Operating by way of the sea the law of the sea
Making nz a corporation not a country
And to be or represent the legalese of it all is to be in a league of their own
And that’s why we have a lawful excuse
After all they only want to make us sick
So they can use us to fight in their wars
Chef Jemichel says
The legal realm depends upon a voluntary agreement and in this instance the nexus for that was the farm’s registration – however that can be revoked by each of the farmers. That is one piece required for extricating the farms.
Another piece is regarding the business structure of the farm. If legally incorporated (as opposed to a Lawful corporation formed by common law Right) then that farm is subject to the state which makes incorporation problematic for the farmer (who just wants to farm and engage in local “trade” as opposed to international commerce).
Lastly (but not least) is the piece regarding legal counsel. The loyalty of a BAR member is to the BAR and their courts. When the farm is not registered, not incorporated and the farmer stands in common law then there really is no need for an attorney. When returning to and standing in the common law the farmer can lawfully require that an injured party present their claim to him and thereby allow him to respond to the injured party. In this instance there is no injured party and therefore the “case” should lawfully be dismissed without prejudice for each farmer.
Christiane Anderson says
Just wondering what Jacinda and the Labour Party and the Green Party have to say for themselves, in sanctioning this kind of ‘legal’ criminal action by a Government Ministry. How can this kind of encroachment be allowed in a so-called free country? Can you see where we are heading…? NZ has already been registered in international agreements since this government came into power, that will be equally as draconian and try to stamp out all resistance to the violation of individual freedom on all basic living levels. Only people don’t know about this and its implications. We are facing life in a personal war-zone…! We have to wake up fast now…
Well Christiane, given the current state of New Zealand and Australia, your post appears to have aged like cottage cheese. Not that America is doing any better, because we certainly aren’t.
Judy Netel says
So true!! The malicious intent of these wicked corporate entities can be discovered by research. Research with a focus on consistency. Who were the original 7 that supposedly became ill from the product? Who had opportunity to ‘set-up’ circumstances so that some became ill???? The corporate entities have unlimited funds (they also own the banks) and stop at nothing to achieve whatever the next goal is ! They will offer whatever price it is to get things done according to their agenda! That agenda does not include you or my best interest but we will be paying for it TWICE at least , regardless ( eg. toll roads).
Jenny Boyd says
My Mother, and two Uncles all over 90 still living at home have all been bought up on raw milk, farm meat and home grown produce and I am sure this is some of the reason they are still with us. I love my raw milk, leave these people to run their business. The Government should be concentrating on our roads and infrastructure and far more important issues.
Also I would like to make the point that there are very few organic raw milk suppliers so how could they reach across New Zealand and grow their business? I live in Auckland and now have NO access to organic raw milk.
Secondly the NZ MPI poses themselves as having to be paid by our citizens and producers (sic, are they a business now rather than civil servants?) rather than helping and enabling them as they should. They could help by providing training, better testing facilities and much lowering the fees. What are the fees for anyhow?
Judy Netel says
I grew up on raw milk and lots of it and everything else the land supplied for our family! We have been railroaded, blindsided and manipulated into believing Corporations ( All Government Departments) exist to serve us ! We give up our responsibility to care for our family & community, expecting a corporate body will do it better for us! (Example: Dr. for healthcare versus knowledge of what keeps us vibrant and healthy ; Veterinary Dr for our pets health versus knowledge of what keeps them vibrant and healthy; Machanic for vehicular problems rather then get dirty hands ; Food supplies rather then supply your own). In EVERY sector of our lives we have willingly handed over our power thinking we are better off!!! Who thinks their Machanic is 100% legit 100% of the time and would never dream of taking a short cut with their car care? Ask yourself the question, for every aspect of your life and those you love, that is put into the hands of others (usually Corporations !) ! No one has your best interest at the core of their existence like you think they do!! We have been brainwashed and become delusional and it’s time to SNAP OUT OF IT !! Start asking yourself questions ?? Be interested in HEARING the answer!! You have all the answers already! ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS!! (Most everyone alive today was unwittingly brainwashed to never question things, around about two years of age! Only a parent will know what I am talking about!! THINK ABOUT THAT! ).
Judy Netel says
PLEASE STAND AGAINST THIS TRYANY FARMERS! Their time is very limited ! Their head will be cut off soon!! If you give in to them you will lose anyway and so will everyone who no longer has a healthy product available!! HOLD THE LINE! Go with your GOD given COMMON LAW! YOU NEED NO LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE WhO WILL DELIVER YOU STRAIGHT TO THE ENEMY! ( although you won’t realise this for some time to come!). YOU NEED LOYAL SUPPORT, NOT LEGAL AGENTS with AGENDAS! Seek those who can offer their own success with COMMON LAW! There can be no case if there is no human flesh injury ! Outsmart traitors who try to set you up by first, knowing you have a healthy product, which you do! Know your enemy!! Educate everyone with the truth stollen from the children by brainwashing Corporations with an agenda! ( I am one of the lucky ones , always homeschooled and grew up in outback Australian bush, milked 7 cows by hand everyday from 7 years of age ! Try telling me (now over 50) that raw milk is unhealthy or any risk whatsoever) I can’t believe what is happening in our world today!! I stand at the milk fridge in the supermarket with complete dismay at not finding what I am looking for no matter how long I search…. MILK !! Just good old fashioned healthy unadulterated MILK!! PLEASE don’t let this continue anymore, much less continue to get even worse!!! GET OUT FROM AMONG US SATAN!!! (I am not religious but I do see truth where it is to be seen! ).