Minnesota Department of Agriculture Going After Raw Milk Farmer Again

Photo: WikiCommons.  Stearns County Courthouse, where Schlangen heads to trial this week.

Photo: WikiCommons. Stearns County Courthouse, where Schlangen heads to trial this week.

A Minnesota farmer will head to court this week to defend himself—for the second time in less than a year—against criminal charges imposed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, reports Food Riot Radio.

In September 2012, food-club farmer Alvin Schlangen was acquitted on three misdemeanors that involved raw milk distribution and operating a food co-op without the proper licenses within Minneapolis’ Hennepin County.

This week, Schlangen will face charges from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for similar transgressions, although in a different county.

According to Food Riot Radio, these charges include selling eggs kept at five degrees above the state standard of 45 degrees, distributing food without a handler’s permit and selling adulterated food that supposedly sickened one of his co-op members with the pathogen campylobacter.

By the accounts of the Schlangen and his attorney Pete Kennedy, these charges have been trumped up to put the local farmer out of business in a state where food giants like General Mills, Hormel and Land O’ Lakes reign supreme.

As for the egg temperature offense, Kennedy—who is also the president of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund—told Food Riot Radio that such an infraction would typically warrant an inspection citation, as opposed to a criminal trial.

“The co-op members like their eggs being refrigerated at 50 degrees just fine,” Schlangen said of the matter. “After 25 years of egg production, I might have some insight.”

The food distribution charges lie on the fact that Schlangen himself delivers his farm goods to co-op members who can’t make the drive out to his farm, because he can’t afford to hire a large distribution company—much like any average family farmer.

And as for the state’s claim that Schlangen’s raw milk product caused one of his club members to fall sick, the member also admitted to have consumed chicken and fast food, which are the leading causes of campylobacter, the same week that he contracted the pathogen.

“It’s all about control,” Kennedy told Food Riot Radio.  “Alvin has a private buyers club and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture refuses to recognize any distinction between public and private distribution of food.”

As Alvin Schlangen hits the St. Cloud, Minn. Courthouse today (August 13th) to maintain the freedoms of his family farm, consider reaching out to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund by becoming a member, making a donation, or spreading the knowledge found on their website.

What do you think of this second case against Schlangen?  Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

UPDATE: Alvin Schlangen was convicted by a jury of 6 on five charges related to his efforts to feed his community and neighbors real, farm fresh food.

Schlangen offered members of the private buying club, Freedom Farms Co-op, the benefit of his volunteer delivery service as he picked up members’ food items, including raw milk, from other farms and delivered it along with products from his Freeport farm.

He was sentenced only on the charge for handling food without a license and given a $1,000 fine ($700 of it was suspended) and 90 days in jail which was suspended for one year of probation.

Read the full story: “Minnesota Jury Convicts Peaceful Farmer on Five Charges” here.

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