ASK THE SHERIFF: Sheriff revisits defending raw milk provider

Sheriff Brad Rogers

DEAR SHERIFF: I have heard of your past involvement on protecting a local farmer’s distribution of raw milk to food co-ops from federal overreach and the actions of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents. Can you remind us of the details?

ANSWER: On Dec. 1, 2011, I received a call from a farmer in Elkhart County who had a dairy operation that was part of a share herd for a food co-op. A food co-op is an organization that the public can pay a fee to join. In return, the member receives food grown without genetically modified features and preservatives. A share herd is a private contract between the farmer and the co-op so that the members can obtain raw (unpasteurized) milk.

I don’t drink raw milk because it’s not convenient for me. However, if I lived on or near a farm, I’d have no problem drinking raw milk. Many of our parents/grandparents drank raw milk and survived. There are risks with raw milk, but careful handling and storage will mitigate the risk. Many people believe that raw milk is healthier to drink than the pasteurized version. There is no law in Indiana that prohibits the distribution of raw milk in this fashion. In short, I don’t believe the government should be our nanny and telling us what we can or cannot drink/eat.

This farmer said he was having problems with the Federal government. Specifically, the FDA was inspecting his farm without a warrant as much as every two weeks. Typical inspections occur annually. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had subpoenaed him for a grand jury in Michigan in which he was to bring his production documents. The Feds wanted to make this farmer an example.

My research concluded that no one was getting sick from this distribution of this raw milk. It appeared to be harassment by the FDA and the DOJ, and making unconstitutional searches, in my opinion. The farmer told me that he no longer wished to cooperate with the inspections of his property.

I sent an email to the trial attorney of the Department of Justice: “I understand that you have made recent requests to (the farmer) for documents and to appear before a grand jury, and he has had a number of inspections and attempted inspections on his farm within Elkhart County. This is notice that any further attempts to inspect this farm without a warrant signed by a judge, based on probable cause, will result in federal inspectors’ removal or arrest for trespassing by my officers or I. In addition, if any further action is taken by the federal government on (the farmer), while he is in Elkhart County, I will expect that you or federal authorities contact my office prior to such action. I will expect you to forward this information to your federal associates, including the FDA.”

On Dec. 6, 2011, the farmer received a certified letter from the DOJ dismissing him from appearing at the grand jury. Now, over four years later, the FDA inspectors and the DOJ, have not returned to the property since I interposed for the farmer. Some have suggested it was my interposition that caused the feds to stand down. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but the evidence would suggest so.

Your local elected officials to include commissioners, county and city councils, mayors, police chiefs, state reps and state senators, governor and sheriffs can stem the tide of federal overreach if they apply just a little backbone in supporting and defending the Constitution. Expect it! Demand it!

Some bloggers and natural food writers have hailed me as a hero. I’m no hero. I’m just doing my job. Whether you are conservative or liberal, I will be a guardian of the Constitution for you, and will not stand idly by while the rights of citizens of my county are trampled, whether by criminals or an overreaching government.

Ask-the-Sheriff a question by emailing Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers at brogers@elkhartcountysheriff.com

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