Rowen Carter who runs Huon Valley Caravan Park, risks losing his family business because the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority (TDIA), considers fresh milk tasting, as part of the farm stay, an illegal activity. (ABC News, 11 November).
Hopeful, Mr Carter today met with the Member for Franklin, Nic Street and Acting Chairman of the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority (TDIA), Mark Sayer. At the meeting, it was explained to Mr Carter, that even sharing raw milk with friends at his own kitchen table would be in breach of the Act, because even though he would not be 'selling' raw milk, he would still be 'distributing' it.
"I can legally allow you to sit at my dining room table and offer you a can of coke and a cigarette but I am unable to offer you a glass of fresh (raw) milk and a scone with clotted cream."
"How can you put your argument across when there is no room for negotiation? The bottom line is the government think they have the right to take away your freedom of choice," said Mr Carter.
This comes on the back of a difficult period faced by Vicki Jones from Mountain View Organic Dairy. In 2014 Labor Minister Jane Garrett and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services made an impulsive decision to taint unpasteurised milk in response to an investigation into the death of a toddler, as a result of suspected E-coli.
Initial media reporting censured Mountain View Organic Dairy, however, recent Coroner’s report findings (24 October, 2016), appear to have softened the public reproach and found no fault with Mountain View.
Vicki Jones from Mountain View Organic Dairy said, “Our heart went out to the family involved because the situation would have been unbearable. However, we followed government regulation to the letter and were not found at fault by the Coroner’s investigation.
“Unfortunately, the government and Minister Garrett did more than taint the taste of unpasteurised milk, they tainted the reputation of our business by failing to work with us or support us during this difficult period,” said Ms Jones.
Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) President Sally Ruljancich asks, “Why do governing bodies continually shift responsibility onto producers? What has happened to the consumers’ right to choose and the responsibility of government to educate consumers?”
“Decisions like these by government do not have the interests of consumers or local farmers at heart. Instead heavy-handed legislation means the government can simply shut down situations that otherwise might require proactive action. Because that is easier than working with us, to empower consumers and assist them making informed purchasing decisions.”
“We support a renewed conversation between raw milk producers, raw milk drinkers and the government. Raw milk is consumed safely around the world; what is needed is safe, fair regulation, otherwise the raw milk drinking community will continue to exercise their choices in an unregulated market,” said Ms Ruljancich.
Celebrity Chef and star of River Cottage Australia Paul West is a vigilant campaigner for local producers, and asks government for further industry support.
“Our local food industry needs backing from governing bodies to assist consumers to make informed decisions, not impetuous reaction that threatens to foreclose local agribusiness,” said Mr West.
The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance has been running a campaign to raise funds for a Legal Defence Fund to protect farmers’ and eaters’ right to determine their own food and agriculture systems. To find out more visit: afsa.org.au
President, Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance
Ph: 0404 490 035
Legal Defence Fund
Ph: 0422 429 362