ST. CLOUD, MN — Last year a farmer faced a jury trial over charges that he delivered unprocessed, raw, dairy milk — just the way members of his co-op liked it. In September 2012, his jury set him free, finding him not guilty on all three charges, reported FarmToConsumer.org. But that wouldn’t be the end of the harassment this well-respected member of the community would face from government bureaucrats.
Alvin Schlangen operates a private club called Freedom Farms Co-op, with roughly 130 members who sign a contract to purchase farm products, including hen’s eggs and raw milk.
The voluntary co-op, he says, “allows the consumer … to be involved in the quality of the food they’re getting, and not just settle for what’s there on the shelf,” reported USA Today.
On August 16, Schlangen was found guilty on five chicken egg charges. “Schlangen had resisted demands from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture that he get a license, refrigerate eggs, and package and label his food accurately,” reported KTTC.
But Schlangen contended his voluntary co-op is not a commercial operation, and the licensing racket doesn’t apply to him. Food Riot Radio quoted him as saying, “The co-op members like their eggs being refrigerated at 50 degrees just fine. After 25 years of egg production, I might have some insight.”
“You’re talking about someone who’s never been accused of making anyone sick,” said attorney Peter Kennedy, president of Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, according to USA Today. “They’re happy with what he does for them, and yet the state is trying to get in the way of this private, contractual relationship between Alvin and the members of the food club,” Kennedy said. “It doesn’t really seem like they’re protecting the public health and safety.”
“This is organized crime at the highest level, where government picks and chooses the winners, especially when it concerns what we, the simpletons, eat and drink,” warned Food Riot Radio.
The farmer will be fined and will spend the next year on probation. If he tries to exercise any freedom in farming he could be arrested. The tragedy of Alvin Schlangen illustrates the injustice of government licensing and micromanagement of fundamental human activities. The fact that a man can’t grow food and distribute it to friends without a paid permission slip is outrageous. Free people shouldn’t need permission to distribute or sell their goods in a manner that pleases the consumers. The fact that a man can be put on trial for natural milk and natural eggs is a sad sign for the so-called “Land of the Free.”