Throughout history, one way that tyrants have exercised power and subjugated those under the heel of their boot was to control the food sources of the people. In some parts of Medieval Europe, killing one of the King's deer was an offense punishable by death. The common justification for this was that the King was the "owner" of the land and all that it contained, including the people. Another, less obvious reason for this restriction was to prevent the people from enjoying the benefits of protein in their diet. Animal protein contributes to muscle growth, enhances mental acuity and overall well being, and provides essential amino acids unavailable in other foods. Most peasants put in long hours and performed back-breaking labor in the service of their lord. Their diet consisted of vegetables and grains, the amount depending on the generosity and benevolence of whichever nobleman they served. A starving peasant, or one that has barely enough to survive, is easier to control than a well-fed, well-muscled peasant.
Later on in history, we have the example of Hitler's Final Solution, in which Jews were rounded up and sent to ghettos. There, they were given the bare minimum to sustain life. Their meals consisted of thin soup and a chunk of bread doled out by the Nazi overlords. Later on, when the Jews were sent to concentration camps and slave labor camps, their diet was reduced to just six hundred calories a day. Again, the idea was to keep them hungry, malnourished, and exhausted,to prevent any resistance to Nazi tyranny.
Elsewhere in Europe, a much less vigorously documented, but no less horrific genocide was taking place; Josef Stalin's campaign to destroy Ukrainian independence by starving them to death. Understanding that, as long as they could feed themselves, the Ukrainian people had no reason to obey the Communist regime, Stalin ordered the land, livestock, and crops of the Ukrainian farmers seized. Anyone caught in possession of "socialist property" that being a bag of grain or an undocumented chicken, was either exiled to Siberia or shot. In the course of this organized famine, seven million Ukrainians died. That's seven million people that died in one of the most fertile spots on the planet; A place with soil so rich that, during WWII, the Nazis actually sent trainloads of topsoil back to Germany to be used on farms there..
Mind you, the farmers were not allowed to stop farming, they were just not allowed to consume any of the harvest. The crisis became so horrid that many resorted to cannibalism to survive. Entire villages were emptied as a result of the people dying off. In true Soviet fashion, Russians were encouraged to move in and take possession of these empty villages.
In any despotic government, the first thing that must be done to assert control is to eliminate competing factions, such as politicians or clergy, usually through imprisonment or execution. Next, those that show any ability or inclination to resist must be eliminated. This usually results in hundreds if not thousands of people, including those that assisted in the tyrant's rise to power, in being executed by whatever means is the most expedient. It also means eliminating those in academia whether they are teachers, philosophers, scientists, or engineers. Ultimately, what the country ends up with is a nation being led by uneducated peasants with one strong personality in charge. Anyone who knows how to do anything has either been executed, exiled, or escaped to another country.
That brings us to Mao's China. Mao's ineptitude, much like Che Guevara's proclivity for murder, has been concealed under the cloak of celebrity. Having eliminated almost the entire group of people that knew how to run things, Mao began his campaign of centralizing the economy. In what would eventually be called the Great Leap Forward ( a name that would be comical had the consequences not been so tragic) Mao manipulated the population like the pieces of a badly played game of chess. Between his ordering of agricultural workers to work in steel plants, and his subscribing to agricultural theories that were more akin to wild guesses than scientific fact, thirty million Chinese people died of starvation between 1958-62.
Even today, that last bastion of hardcore Communism, North Korea, utilizes centralization and deprivation of food production to control their population. The only people in North Korea that are fed well are those in the military. Ironically, it is the West that supplied much of the food needed to prevent a repeat of Mao's Great Leap Forward.
That brings us to the USA. While certainly not on a par with Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, there is a virulent campaign to either eliminate independent farms or bring them to heel. Every day, family farms are going under as a result of the skyrocketing cost of farming due to increasingly restrictive environmental regulations and the high cost of feed, gas and oil. Add to that the importation of foreign agricultural products that are purchased from overseas farms that have lower labor costs and much less pressure from environmental agencies and it is obvious that the family farmer of today is playing a losing game with a dealer that has stacked the deck against him.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the arena of raw milk. Setting aside the arguments for or against the health benefits of raw milk, the government's ongoing campaign to destroy raw milk producers has reached a level where, if not taken directly from the tyrant's playbook, it certainly resembles it enough to evoke images of another time where armed troops terrorized peaceful people into submission.
It is an outrage that, here in America, some government bureaucrat should be able to target and mark for elimination an entire segment of our economy based solely on a lack of understanding and unclear regulations. Here in South Dakota, the raw milk industry has been subjected to ever changing regulations that are seemingly designed to drive up the cost of doing business while spreading disinformation to potential customers. Raw milk producers are portrayed as scofflaws and rustics who obtain their product through outmoded and potentially hazardous means. A little time and research would reveal quite the opposite. Today's raw milk producers are usually modern operations run by conscientious people who work very hard to comply with all of the onerous regulations imposed upon them by petty tyrants under the guise of bureaucracy.
Witness the plight of Black Hills Milk; a family owned and operated dairy, BHM has worked long and hard to bring a healthy, high quality product to market. Every Thursday and Saturday, you can go to the Farmer's Market in Rapid City and see the line of people waiting to purchase raw milk and other products from them. Unfortunately, they have become the center of attention for one venal little bureaucrat within the South Dakota Department of Agriculture named Darwin Kurtenbach. His game is a simple one; he requires BHM to comply with some standard of his choosing, when they accomplish that, he raises the bar again to force them to spend more time and money trying to stay within the confines of the law and somehow make a profit. He gets away with this because the regulations that are pertinent to dairy farming are written in an ambiguous enough manner as to make them subject to interpretation by the individual administrator. Strangely enough, it is only the small, independent operations that seem to have his presence inflicted upon them. And we know how safe these massive operations are, don't we?
It is infuriating enough to be denied a safe, healthy product because of the prejudice of a mindless bureaucrat, but to watch good people fight a losing battle simply because such an individual has taken it upon himself to eliminate them under the umbrella of government authority is intolerable. It is with this in mind that I urge those that can to call the office of the Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture at 1-800-228-5254 and let your voice be heard. Don't let artificial boundaries separate us and don't let geography or time zones stop you from speaking out against this perfidy. Good people anywhere can help other good people everywhere by lending their support.
It's a small step, but an important one in reminding the government just who is in charge.