Richard R. Hebron-Vandalia, MI (269) 476-8883

Richard Hebron, 41, was driving along an anonymous stretch of highway near Ann Arbor, Mich., last October when state cops pulled him over, ordered him to put his hands on the hood of his mud-splattered truck and seized its contents: 453 gal. of milk.

On Oct. 13, the Michigan Agriculture Dept., together with state police, completed a sting operation by confiscating an estimated $7,000 worth of the cooperative's food products and executing search warrants on the home of the cooperative's manager, Richard Hebron, in Vandalia, along with a warehouse owned by Morgan & York in Ann Arbor (see, 10/19/06, "States Target Raw-Milk Farmers").

Once a week, she places an order online, choosing from various meats, dairy, produce and other seasonal items. On Fridays, she stops by Great Oak Cohousing in Ann Arbor to pick up her items delivered by Richard Hebron, a co-op farmer based out of Vandalia, Mich.

The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture all say raw milk is unsafe for human consumption. The only legal way to buy raw milk in Michigan is through what's called a cow share program. Customers pay for a portion of a herd and can then buy the milk. Richard Hebron runs a cow share program with the Family Farms co-op in Vandalia, MI.

In recent years, raids of this sort have not been unusual. In October 2006, Michigan officials destroyed a truckload of Richard Hebron’s unpasteurized dairy. The previous month, the Ohio Department of Agriculture shut down Carol Schmitmeyer’s farm for selling raw milk. Cincinnati cops also swooped in to stop Gary Oaks in March 2006 as he unloaded raw milk in the parking lot of a local church. When bewildered residents gathered around, an officer told them to step away from “the white liquid substance.” The previous September an undercover agent in Ohio asked Amish dairyman Arlie Stutzman for a jug of unpasteurized milk. Stutzman refused payment, but when the agent offered to leave a donation instead, the farmer said he could give whatever he thought was fair. Busted.

News references

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