Organic Consumers Association

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David v. Goliath: Raw Milk Producer Calls Settlement with the State a Win

  For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page and our Health Raw Milk page.

In April 2009, members of the Bechard family of Conway traveled to the parking lot of a Springfield natural food store to deliver raw milk to customers who had placed orders, but one of those customers never showed up. The same thing happened another time.

Coincidentally, two people approached the family and asked to buy their excess product both times. The family members agreed to the sales, presented the individuals with the unpasteurized milk, collected the money and went on with their day.

But that's not the end of the story.

Turns out the "customers" who approached the Bechard family were from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

The Missouri State Milk Board and the Missouri Attorney General's officer took exception to the family selling their milk from a central distribution point and filed suit against Armand and Teddi Bechard. The city of Springfield also filed criminal charges against Armand Bechard for the sale of raw milk at an off-farm location, but he was acquitted on appeal in January 2011.

The family never denied the sale of the raw milk to the health department agents, but contended that they were within the regulations of the state's milk law because the undercover customers, they assumed, were purchasing the raw milk from the Bechard Family Farm for their own use, which is allowed under state statues.

The State Milk Board insisted that raw milk could only be delivered to a customer's home, not a central delivery point.

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