SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

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KKPSTEIN
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SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/swat-team.htm

SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

On Monday, December 1, a SWAT team with semi-automatic rifles entered the private home of the Stowers family in LaGrange, Ohio, herded the family onto the couches in the living room, and kept guns trained on parents, children, infants and toddlers, from approximately 11 AM to 8 PM. The team was aggressive and belligerent. The children were quite traumatized. At some point, the “bad cop” SWAT team was relieved by another team, a “good cop” team that tried to befriend the family. The Stowers family has run a very large, well-known food cooperative called Manna Storehouse on the western side of the greater Cleveland area for many years.

There were agents from the Department of Agriculture present, one of them identified as Bill Lesho. The search warrant is reportedly supicious-looking. Agents began rifling through all of the family’s possessions, a task that lasted hours and resulted in a complete upheaval of every private area in the home. Many items were taken that were not listed on the search warrant. The family was not permitted a phone call, and they were not told what crime they were being charged with. They were not read their rights. Over ten thousand dollars worth of food was taken, including the family’s personal stock of food for the coming year. All of their computers, and all of their cell phones were taken, as well as phone and contact records. The food cooperative was virtually shut down. There was no rational explanation, nor justification, for this extreme violation of Constitutional rights.

Presumably Manna Storehouse might eventually be charged with running a retail establishment without a license. Why then the Gestapo-type interrogation for a 3rd degree misdemeanor charge? This incident has raised the ominous specter of a restrictive new era in State regulation and enforcement over the nation’s private food supply.

This same type of abusive search and seizure was reported by those innocents who fell victim to oppressive federal drug laws passed in the 1990s. The present circumstance raises the obvious question: is there some rabid new interpretation of an existing drug law that considers food a controlled substance worthy of a nasty SWAT operation? Or worse, is there a previously unrecognized provision(s) pertaining to food in the Homeland Security measures? Some have suggested that it was merely an out-of-control, hot-to-trot ODA agent, and, if so, this would be a best-case scenario. Anything else might spell the beginning of the end for the freedom to eat unregulated and unmonitored food.

One blogger familiar with the Ohio situation has reported that:

“Interestingly, I believe they [Manna Storehouse] said a month or so ago, an undercover ODA official came to their little store and claimed to have a sick father wanting to join the co-op. Both the owner and her daughter-in-law had a horrible feeling about the man, and decided not to allow him into the co-op and notified him by certified mail. He came back to the co-op demanding to be part of it. They refused and gave him names of other businesses and health food stores closer to his home. Not coincidentally, this man was there yesterday as part of the raid.”

The same blog also noted that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been chastised by the courts in several previous instances for its aggression, including trying to entrap an Amish man in a raw milk “sale,” which backfired when it became known that the Amish believe in a literal interpretation of “give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:42)

The issue appears to be the discovery of a bit of non-institutional beef in an Oberlin College food service freezer a year ago that was tracked down by a county sanitation official to Manna Storehouse. Oberlin College’s student food coop is widely known for its strident ideological stance about eating organic foods. It seems that the Oberlin student food cooperative had joined the Manna Storehouse food cooperative in order to buy organic foods in bulk from the national organic food distributor United, which services buying clubs across the nation. The sanitation official, James Boddy, evidently contacted the Ohio Department of Agriculture. After the first contact by state ODA officials, Manna Storehouse reportedly wrote them a letter requesting assistance and guidelines for complying with the law. This letter was never answered. Rather, the ODA agent tried several times to infiltrate the coop, as described above. When his attempts failed, the SWAT team showed up!

Food cooperatives and buying clubs have been an active part of the American landscape for over a generation. In the 1970s, with the rise of the organic food industry (a direct outgrowth of the hippie back-to-nature movement) food coops started up all over the country. These were groups of people who freely associated for the purpose of combining their buying power so that they could order organic food items in bulk and case lots. Anyone who was part of these coops in the early era will remember the messy breakdown of 35 pounds of peanut butter and 5 gallon drums of honey!

These buying clubs have persisted and flourished over the years due to their ability to purchase high quality organic foods at reduced prices in bulk quantities. Most cooperatives have participated greatly in the local agrarian economies, supporting neighborhood organic farmers with purchases of produce, eggs, chickens, etc. The groups also purchase food from a number of different local, regional and national distributors, many of them family-based businesses who truck the food themselves. Some of these food cooperatives have become large enough to set up mini-storefront operations where members can drop in and purchase items leftover from case lot sales. Manna Storehouse had established itself in such a manner, using a small enclosed breezeway attached to their home. It was a folksy place with old wooden floors where coop members stopped by to chat and snack on bags of organic corn chips.

The state of Ohio boasts the second largest Amish population in the country. Many of the Amish live on acreages where they raise their own food, not unlike Manna Storehouse, and sell off the extras to neighbors and church members. There is a sense of foreboding that this state crackdown on a longstanding, reputable food cooperative operation could adversely impact the peaceful agrarian way of life not only for the Amish, but homeschoolers and those families living off the land on rural acreages. It raises the disturbing possibility that it could become a crime to raise your own food, buy eggs from the farmer down the road, or butcher your own chickens for family and friends – bustling activities that routinely take place in backwater America.

The freedom to purchase food directly form the source is increasingly under attack. For those who have food allergies and chemical intolerances, or who are on special medical diets, this is becoming a serious health issue. Will Americans retain the right to purchase food that is uncontaminated by pesticides, herbicides, allergens, additives, dyes, preservatives, MSG, GMOs, radiation, etc.? The melamine scare from China underscores the increasingly inferior and suspect quality of modern processed institutional foods. One blog, commenting on the bizarre and troubling Manna Storehouse situation, observed that:

“No one is saying exactly why. At the same time the FDA says it it safe to eat the 40% of tainted beef found in Costco's and Sam's all over the nation. These farm raids are very common now. Every farmer needs to fully eqiped [sic] for the possibility of it happening to them. The Farmer To Consumer Legal Defense Fund was created just for this purpose. The USDA just released their plans to put a law into action that will put all small farmers out of business. Animals for the sale of meat or milk will only be allowed in commercial farms, even the organic ones.” December 3, 2008 7:09 PM

KKPSTEIN's picture
KKPSTEIN
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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I don't know how to verify this exactly, but there seems to be couple of articles and blogs about this on-line.  Is this what we have to look forward to if we begin to organize and live off the grid?  If you look at Manna Storehouse's web page, http://www.mannastorehouse.com/  they seem like a really wholesome organization that just wanted to provide an untainted, organic, alternative food supply to people who wanted to eat something other than the GMO, antibiotic and steroid laced meat products and junk foods.  Their philosophy seems pretty much to work with like minded vendors, and farmers to provide a much needed and valued service to the community. 

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

 

I think congress recently passed a law making it more dificult to sue food companies for providing unhealthy foods?

The cops support the status quo....big ag and the food companies want to corner the market?

Law enforcement works for the highest bidder?   The corporations....not the people.

 

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

Better to have nothing in this world I guess.

That way government thugs can come, bust down your door, steal your stuff, and redistribute it under Obama's New Deal.
Bush opened the gates of despotism and Obama will usher in its minions.

All in the name of maintaining the status quo.

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

Manna store has in the rules legal jargon refusing Gov types from being members. Seems they expect trouble from the powers and principalities.

Ron

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I wonder why they put this in their "Rules, Regulations & Policies" 

NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT
 
Members agree that by joining Manna Storehouse you state that you are not an employee of any federal, state or local government agency.  Any transaction, communication or observations by you and/or anyone with you cannot be reported or communicated in any way to any federal, state or local government agency; nor used in a court of law against Manna Storehouse or any member of the Stowers family.

--------------------------------------------------

There are always two sides to every story and I was wondering what the other side has to say regarding this... there seems to be a lot of missing information...

If I'm to read between the lines, I'm not sure how accurate my assumptions/speculations might be.

--------------------------------------------------

On the one hand I'm glad we have agencies like the FDA; but on the other hand I like having the small, organic and unregulated farms.

What should I be asking myself?  I'm confused.

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

CC,

 

Maybe they just don't want to associate with parasites.  At this point, I have heard more than enough mis/disinformation from the state to maintain my cynicism for the rest of my life.

Were their dogs killed?

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KKPSTEIN
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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio
caroline_culbert wrote:

I wonder why they put this in their "Rules, Regulations & Policies" 

NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT
 
Members agree that by joining Manna Storehouse you state that you are not an employee of any federal, state or local government agency.  Any transaction, communication or observations by you and/or anyone with you cannot be reported or communicated in any way to any federal, state or local government agency; nor used in a court of law against Manna Storehouse or any member of the Stowers family.

--------------------------------------------------

There are always two sides to every story and I was wondering what the other side has to say regarding this... there seems to be a lot of missing information...

If I'm to read between the lines, I'm not sure how accurate my assumptions/speculations might be.

--------------------------------------------------

On the one hand I'm glad we have agencies like the FDA; but on the other hand I like having the small, organic and unregulated farms.

What should I be asking myself?  I'm confused.

This is just pure speculation of course, but maybe they were burned and bullied before.  Perhaps someone connected to the Feds attempted to take down the coop from the inside in the past.  People get burned all the time with Federal Gov't interference on different levels.  The Feds can walk into your life and completely destroy you, your reputation, livelihood and spirit if you let them. One of the most memorable examples of this, for me was when I read about what happened to Franklin Sanders and his family back in the eighties and nineties.  You can read what the IRS did to his life/business, etc when he tried to live off the grid by opening a small gold/silver bank.  You can read the story here.  It is very interesting and quite eye opening. http://the-moneychanger.com/dangerous.phtml

After this experience, I’m certain that they conducted all business after that in a very different way.  I mean we are talking about very good people here who are integrity driven and were acting on their ideology on what they felt they had the right and freedoms to do (open a small gold/silver bank).

I realize there is always two sides to every story.  Moreover, I think the moral of the story here is that the government does not like the threat of competition, expecially when the alternative product offered is superior.

 

 

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

Here's a link to a media story. The comments are thankfully quite supportive, but it definitely needs more attention than being buried on the site of some regional Ohio paper...

 http://www.morningjournal.com/articles/2008/12/03/news/mj309059.txt

 

 

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I'm wondering if there is not more to this... I just can't imagine why the ODA would make this kind of effort... some of the reasons I can imagine is:

1.  The ODA wants to make an example of this incident and use it as a scare tactic.

1b.  If so, why?

2.  The ODA is bored and needed to justify their limited or extended department budget.

3.  What's in it for the ODA if it was in the ODA's best interest to seize property?  Have they done tests on the items such as contamination tests and so forth?

4.   Why does everyone, including Manna Storehouse, seem to have a lid on the rest of the info.?

5.  Has Manna Storehouse posted anything on their website regarding this incident?

5b. Why or why not?

... just curious---and skeptical

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KKPSTEIN
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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio
caroline_culbert wrote:

I'm wondering if there is not more to this... I just can't imagine why the ODA would make this kind of effort... some of the reasons I can imagine is:

1.  The ODA wants to make an example of this incident and use it as a scare tactic.

1b.  If so, why?

2.  The ODA is bored and needed to justify their limited or extended department budget.

3.  What's in it for the ODA if it was in the ODA's best interest to seize property?  Have they done tests on the items such as contamination tests and so forth?

4.   Why does everyone, including Manna Storehouse, seem to have a lid on the rest of the info.?

5.  Has Manna Storehouse posted anything on their website regarding this incident?

5b. Why or why not?

... just curious---and skeptical

Hi CC, I really wish we had more information on this.  It is fun to speculate though!  :)

 

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I think it is interesting to speculate and hopefully more information will come out later. But I think the key to all of this is that the USDA even has the capability to send all these armed gunment to a food storehouse to harass them like this. Wouldn't it have been a little more appropriate to, say, subpoena them instead?

With this incident, we witness yet another attack and erosion on property and privacy rights. The trend is not good.

"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." --- Thomas Jefferson

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

Yeah, when you put it that way, sending heavily armed SWAT team soldiers is a little OTT for a coop farm. Did you read what happened to Franklin Sanders? Here's a little on it....

"Tennessee Revenue Department agents roared in my driveway while the SWAT team in their black ninja suits poured out of the woods on either side of my house.

They attacked with reckless, malicious disregard for the safety of my wife and seven (7) children. All they needed to do was pick up the phone and tell me I had been indicted, and I would have gone downtown. No, these IRS thugs wanted headlines from a sensational "pre-dawn raid" to scare the sheep for tax season, and to make me and my wife, the mother of my seven children, look violent and dangerous. "

All he did was open a small gold/silver bank with some church friends. Anyway....

Nice to see a Jeffersonian on here!

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I have been reading and researching this for over an hour now, and find the whole story unbelievable. I did read through the rules and regulations on the Stowers site. It seems to me that the co-op is in fact unlicensed through any agency. Where does this agreement leave recourse should a person become sick, possibly from E-coli, or other germs infecting their food? Basically, when the liability waiver is signed, they assume noone can touch them should such an incidents occur. I believe that we are not getting the WHOLE story. It is obvious that the non-disclosure agreement reflects something of a secret nature, possible ways to bypass government or state intervention for food safety.

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I would also like to point out the fact that none of the suppliers have been mentioned? I live in Ohio, near most of these suppliers. Are future raids likely to occur around us?

Check out the selection of meats. Are the chickens and cows being slaughtered under humane conditions and a clean environment?

Is the packaging process performed with sterile and clean conditions?

We are still missing key information.

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KKPSTEIN
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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I agree Pwcasemaker.  I just wish we had more information.  Too bad we couldn't phone them and find out.

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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

I just have to say that stringent processing conditions, ie. humane slaughter, clean environment, are not the domain of the commercial companies.  Have you been to any commercial slaughter houses?  It's one of the reasons why I buy kosher meats.  At least there is some provision for respect for the animal and standard of clean environment.  Have there been any reports of tainted meats regardless of any non-disclosure agreements?  I can't see as that would stop anyone who could claim as such.

On a separate note, when is it permissable to defend oneself and family from the business end of a gun, no matter who is holding the other end?

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KKPSTEIN
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Re: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

Hi Hazak,  Now we're getting into Waco territory ...

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