The Michigan Department of Agriculture allegedly seized the raw food contents of a dairy truck in Washington Township and forced the co-op to dump 3,600 dollars of raw milk and organic eggs into the trash. This “raw food dump” further frustrates Michigan residents concerned about eliminating factory farmed products from their diets. The Macomb Daily reports that the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed the seizure of the raw food. Jennifer Holton of the Department of Agriculture in Michigan told the Macomb Daily that cowshares are generally not regulated by the department. The milk that was dumped was obtained from dairy cows that are part of a cowshare.
In Michigan, it is not legal to buy raw milk directly, so consumers opt to purchase a share of ownership of dairy or meat cows. The farmers are required to obtain a signed contract from cowshare members in order to legally distribute the raw milk derived from the dairy cows. High Hill Dairy operates a cowshare in Michigan.
“100 dozen eggs… Each egg had to be broken. 248 gallons dumped in a sprayer that had to be witnessed by MDA being dumped and sprayed on the field,” High Hill Dairy wrote about the forced dump in Michigan.
Jenny Samuelson of My Family Co-Op, which serves Michigan’s Macomb and Oakland counties, confirmed that the raw food dump was orchestrated upon free-range eggs and raw milk on her truck. She said that the truck was raided on July 15, 2014. She told Macomb Daily, “They jumped on the truck, they whipped out their badges… They said it was a licensing issue.” Samuelson said that the Department of Agriculture claims the dump was a result of the co-op not having a retail license. She pointed out that she does not operate a retail outlet. “It wasn’t my product, this is the consumers product.” Samuelson said her brother was driving the truck at the time of the forced-dump and had let the authorities onto the truck without a warrant. Samuelson said she is a delivery person from farm to cowshare owners.
Even still, according to a Michigan Small Farm Council member, the issue the Department of Agriculture may have had with the raw food truck was that it was carrying other products besides just milk from the cowshare. It is also alleged that the co-op was informed previously of the license requirement for distributing these products.
Daisy Luther of the sometimes controversial website The Organic Prepper wrote:
“According to the owners of the dairy, the MDA threatened to arrest the co-op owner, Jenny Samuelson, for ‘selling food without a license.’ However, the farm is a co-op, where people must buy shares. The MDA, however, said that the co-op contracts were invalid, and therefore, instead of being shared, the food was being sold. Because co-op members had paid for their shares, technically the MDA stole food that belonged not just to the Golimbieski family, but to every single member of that co-op.”
Holton said that the Department of Agriculture officials were concerned for consumer safety, “The butter, cream, buttermilk, raw milk and cheese did not have the labels of when and where it was made … some of the cheese did have a label, but it said it came from a business that closed down two years ago.” Advocates frustrated with the state of farming in Michigan should be aware that the Department of Agriculture said the food was not being transported at a safe temperature. Holton also explained that the eggs had not been cleaned and had debris on them. The Michigan Department of Agriculture returned the meat and some other products this week, but 1,200 free range eggs had to be cracked and dumped in front of inspectors and other raw food products were trashed in the raid on the co-op’s dairy truck.
Some depressing video of food from My Family Co-Op being destroyed on Monday, incl beautiful eggs being smashed. https://t.co/Ta5jElYYbP
— David Gumpert (@davidgumpert) July 24, 2014
[Photo via Hill High Dairy’s Facebook page]