Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

December 17, 2011

Middlebury dairy farmer, Sheriff stand up to FDA

Forest Grove Dairy the focus of federal investigation

GOSHEN — David Hochstetler of rural Middlebury distributes raw milk to people who buy into his herd of Jersey cows. That action has drawn the ire of the Food and Drug Administration, which wants to inspect his farm because it believes it is the source of a 2010 bacteria outbreak in Michigan. But Sheriff Brad Rogers has a message for the FDA, which is “get a warrant.”

The conflict between the local and federal authorities came to a head two weeks ago when Hochstetler was summoned to testify before a federal grand jury in Detroit. He declined to appear, invoking his 5th Amendment right. Sheriff Rogers also notified the Justice Department attorney that if FDA agents tried to inspect Hochstetler’s farm without a signed warrant, they would be arrested on trespassing charges.

Since then the federal subpoena for Hochstetler has been withdrawn, according to Rogers.

The sheriff sees his action as protecting a local Amish resident, who he called “an honest man,” from being harassed by federal officials.

“The thing is that if the FDA agents come in and they meet with the farmer and the farmer wants them to come in, I don’t have a problem with that,” Rogers said. “But in this case Mr. Hochstetler did not want the agents there. This is an administrative rule of the federal government and I think people are tired of the federal government walking all over everybody and it is time to take a stand for states’ rights.”

Rogers said sheriffs across the country are beginning to resist actions by federal regulatory agencies when a warrant has not been issued. He cited a 1997 Supreme Court ruling, Printz vs. The United States, that found in favor of a sheriff who did not want to enforce the federal Brady Act gun laws. That act required local law officers to enforce the federal law. The case was based on the 10th Amendment, which states that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the states.

“This isn’t about raw milk,” Rogers said. “It’s about fundamental rights.”

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