December 5, 2007 - Andrea Elliott
"NY Dairy Farmer Turns
the Tables When the Ag Inspectors Arrive for a Mystery
Over the last two weeks, Andrea Elliott
has been writing emails to farm associations, her Congressman, and members of
the U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees-- -all urging that the
upcoming farm bill not include funding for the National Animal Identification
System (NAIS). She and her husband, Jim, own a dairy farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and she made it plain in her notes
that she is adamantly opposed to registering the farm's 80 cows under the
Recently she received a call from an
inspector with the New York Department of Food and Markets in Albany that he planned
to come by the farm for a special inspection, based on "a complaint" made to
the department's Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services.
couldn't imagine who might have complained, and what the complaint might have
been about. Her farm, Crystal Brook Farms, sells nearly all its milk to a
local creamery for pasteurization. She sells a few gallons of raw milk
occasionally to individuals who stop in with their own containers, under
rules that allow sale of 25gallons a month without a permit.
the inspector, Bradley Lyle Houck, arrived from Albany, two hours away, together with her
regular local dairy inspector, and Andrea was prepared. As soon as they
arrived, "I turned on my video camera. I think that made them a little
Then, she says, "I asked the state inspector to fill out
my form." Her form is a three-page "public service questionnaire" that asks
for the inspector's identity, his principal reason for doing the inspection,
how the information he gathers will be used, and other such data. "He shook
his head and refused," says Andrea. "He said, 'I have to be authorized by
tried to make a call on his cell phone, but couldn't complete the call because
the farm area has no cell reception.
Andrea persisted. "I said, This is our
property and I can require you to fill it out.'" He offered his state ID and
Andrea moved on. "I asked him why he was here and he said a
complaint was received in Albany."
What was the complaint? "He said
he couldn't tell me."
Who filed the complaint? "He wouldn't tell me. He
just wouldn't go any further. He said all complaints that come into Albany are treated as
"I asked him what statute allows a complaint to be treated
as confidential. He said he couldn't quote a statute."
At that point, the
inspector asked if they could talk off-camera. Andrea declined.
'I guess the best thing would be for us to come back another time." The two
got back into their car and took off.
Andrea adds, "At no time did I deny
him the inspection. I didn't ask him to leave. All I did was ask him for
specific reasons for the inspection.. .I have a right to know who my accuser
to have added an entirely new dimension to the agricultural inspection.
Especially one with such an intriguing coincidence connecting it to
By request of Good Neighbor,
Andrea Elliott's personal
occurred Oct.30 , 2007. To date we have not recieved any contact from NY
Ag & Mkts.
We posted the
property , turned away customers we didn't know well , and cancelled our
participation in a historical documentation project since we did not know
exactly where this complaint originated from. Then we told everyone we met
about this . It was odd that this popped up so soon after my anti NAIS
letter writing campaign.
is always nearby as is the video camera - everyone
should be familiar with both .
The more we
thought about it the angrier we became - and decided that NY needs a
grassroots organization to work legislatively to protect farmers and
consumers. With the help of Deb Stockton of NICFA ,and other concerned
individuals, the NY Independent Consumer and Farmers Association was
It is our
wish that as many farmers as possible learn from this experience and
stand ready to defend their properties and way of life , and not be
afraid to speak out .We're here to help and you're not alone. Consumers
need to become very educated in the tactics of the regulators and join with us
to preserve their right to choose their food source. By
Andrea Elliott December 5, 2007
You'll find the "Public Servant Questionnaire," "Property Admittance Agreement" and more.
We encourage you to print, adapt, and use the form you
believe suits your situation.
These are not intended as legal forms, but instead to serve notice
to anyone who requests access to your property, that you will exercise
your rights to protect your property.
Here's a copy of the Public Servant Questionnaire similar to
the one Andrea Elliott used.
YOU HAVE RIGHTS! USE THEM!