This morning (Oct 11, 2007) NY Ag & Markets personnel came from Albany to seize raw milk yogurt at Steve and Barbara Smith’s farm on the grounds that it was adulterated and misbranded (both arising from the real, raw milk). This was the most recent in a series of moves by the state to regulate the Smiths even though they do not sell any of their milk or dairy products. All of the Smiths raw milk products are available only to members of their “herdshare” program, Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC.
Last week inspectors of the Dept of Ag and Markets showed up at the farm with a warrant and demanded to be allowed to inspect their raw milk dairy farm. The details of this event can be read in “Barbara Smith Launches a Successful Raw Milk Cow Share” on David Gumpert’s blog. The state is demanding that the Smiths only distribute their products on the farm instead of at locations more convenient for the members such as the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. The Smiths feel this is clearly an issue of the state trying to restrict their trade.
In March 2007, after almost a year of excessive harshness and persecution on the part of the regulators the Smiths had had enough and transferred their herd of cows to a Limited Liability Company that people in the Ithaca area could join and get raw milk products. For 12 years Steve and Barb owned and operated Meadowsweet Yogurt Company, a popular local yogurt made on their farm in Lodi, NY and sold in grocery stores in the Ithaca area and at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. During that time they also sold raw milk to customers who came to their farm from as far away as Canada.
The Smiths saw a growing demand for raw milk over the last 5 years and wanted a way to make the milk available to a larger number of people. So they closed the yogurt business and now sell no dairy at all. All of the milk from the herd they milk now goes to the 115 members of Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC in the form of raw milk, raw yogurt, raw butter and buttermilk. The demand for their products is so high they have a waiting list of about 30 people and the list is always growing.
The popularity of raw milk nationwide has fueled the conflict with state regulators in many states. The Smiths have had their case taken up by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which contracts with a group of lawyers in several states to defend farmers embroiled with the government over issues surrounding providing food directly to consumers. One of their lawyers, Gary Cox of Columbus, Ohio, is engaged in dialog with the Department of Ag and Markets to resolve the issue.
for more information please contact: Steve and Barbara Smith