Thanks to Drake for finding this little pearl. It just goes to show you we are now in a time of empowered citizenry. If we choose to stand up and be accounted for as a unified front, we shall get what we want…freedom and the right to purchase and support products that are healthy for us, our animals, and our planet!!!-A.M.
Ed Lawton began to get good vibes when he went for a haircut hours before the Foxboro Board of Health meeting Monday evening. “The barber told me I had one hundred per cent support in the town. And then he didn’t charge me for the haircut.”
For the first nearly hour-and-a-half of the meeting–which had been moved to a middle-school auditorium after 150 people overflowed a meeting last month, forcing a postponement–it wasn’t clear how things would go. But the 300 or so people who attended this meeting made clear their wishes.
First they jeered Eric Arvedon, the Foxboro Board of Health member who initiated the proposal to put the home of the New England Patriots, a town of 16,000, into the raw milk regulation business.
“We hear you,” he said, trying to placate the crowd. “But there have to be some guidelines.” He tried to defend one of the most contentious proposed local regulations– that information about customers would need to be provided the town in the event of a high bacterial reading, but it wasn’t clear in his assessment what would be required and under what circumstances in terms of customer data. He also said the $3 million of liability insurance required for raw milk wasn’t an absolute requirement–Lawton’s would have to post notices at the farm if it didn’t have the insurance.
But then he made a startling admission: “We are not farmers. We are not dairy inspectors, or farm inspectors.” He made another startling admission when Ed Lawton stood up and told him the town didn’t have the authority to regulate the farm’s raw milk cheese–that he “didn’t realize” it was already federally regulated. And when he noted that the town’s regulations wouldn’t permit herd shares, he said, “I don’t know what a herd share is.”
Well, then, given all the knowledge and expertise deficiencies, why did he want the town to take over regulation of Lawton’s Family Farm and its raw milk production? “Raw milk is a ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food.”
Then one of Lawton’s customers, Lonnie, offered testimony on Lawton’s behalf. “I feel very strongly that the existing raw milk regulations (by the state) are working.” Loud applause. “In the past ten years, you are more than three times as likely to become ill from produce than from raw milk.” Even louder applause.
“Please,” Arvedon pleaded. “This is a working draft. We are trying to make a draft we can all live with.” Nothing doing.
All kinds of supporters of the Lawtons were waiting in the wings to testify against the town’s approach. Roger Noonan, president of the New England Farmers Union. Douglas Gillespie, executive director of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (yes, a Farm Bureau official helping defend a raw milk dairy). A neighboring town’s health inspector. A state representative.
Two more Lawton’s supporters spoke in favor of the farm and its raw milk. An hour-and-a-half had gone by. Six more people stood in line at the microphone near the stage, waiting to speak. The Board of Health members could see the writing on the wall. Before the third person could take the microphone, Board of Health member Paul Steeves interrupted. He moved for the board to approve a resolution “allowing the sale of raw milk in Foxboro….with no stipulation about regulation except for the state.” Board chairman Paul Mullins seconded the motion, to loud applause, and within a couple minutes, the whole battle was over….but not before the two board members who had voted to save Lawton’s from town regulation awkwardly explained their decision to acquiesce.
Steeves waved a thick pile of papers. “These are just some of the emails we have received,” he said, anger rising in his voice. “Horrible emails, mean-spirited. Some very negative voice mails were left. It was uncalled for. We have been referred to as Gestapo. That being said, if you want to drink raw milk, have at it. If you want to sky dive, go ahead.”
Paul Mullins, the chairman, said, “We have heard your voice….I don’t want to be the Gestapo. I ride a motorcyle. That is dangerous.”
With that, the meeting was over, and Ed Lawton could breathe a sigh of relief. “The farm was on the line tonight,” he told me afterwards. He marveled at all the people that had come out to help save it.
Support for Lawton’s Raw Milk Family Farm Forces Delay in Board of Health Public Hearing to Shut Them Down
The Raw Milk Revolution
Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
by David E. Gumpert
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