Inspiration from FARM WOMEN UNITED — Reclaiming the U.S. Constitution: The 2018 Dairy Farm Crisis

Inspiration from FARM WOMEN UNITED — Reclaiming the U.S. Constitution: The 2018 Dairy Farm Crisis
Posted July 22, 2018

As a 67-year old lifelong activist, in 2018 I am finding more and more need to refer to the U.S. Constitution, only to find that the Constitution itself is outdated and unclear on many things—including public money, economic rights, women’s authority, the rights of non-humans, care-taking, etc. I am actively advocating a national book club to read the U.S. Constitution in conjunction with the Iroquois Constitution, which was much more clear on economic rights and powers, especially women’s rights and authority. For details on the Great Law of Peace and how it might inform a current study of the U.S. Constitution, see my June 2018 blog, Overcoming U.S. Political Tribalism in 2018: Are there any Models?

For a hyper-current example of why we need to re-think, re-discover, and possibly re-write the U.S. Constitution, here is some inspiration and thoughts from Brenda Cochran, President of Farm Women United.

On July 24, 2018, Farm Women United are hosting a public hearing about the current dairy farm family crisis. The hearing will be held in Lairdsville, Pennsylvania. More information is here: Farm Women United Dairy Farm Crisis Hearing.

Farm Women United—”A Citizen’s Platform of the people, by the people, and for the people”— is holding this hearing because they have not been able to get Congress and other officials to listen.  They are encouraging other U.S. farmers and communities to hold their own hearings.

The Action Alert caught my attention because it cites “Constitutional rights” and “un-Constitutional inequities” as issues in the dairy farm crisis. I wanted to know the specifics, so on July 9, 2018 I sent this question to FWU: “Can you identify those specific places in the Constitution that refer to violated rights or inequities causing the dairy farm crisis?”

Here is the response that I got from Brenda Cochran, FWU President. Thanks to Brenda for taking the time to answer my question in detail and for giving me permission to post her Observations about “The Constitution” and Farmers.

For some nuts & bolts background on the dairy farm crisis, here’s one of the many news media articles:  How Rural America got Milked, by Leah Douglas (New Food Economy, Jan. 18, 2018).

Here is Brenda’s answer in full. It contains two distinct parts:
— Her observations about the Constitution
— The Economic Bill of Rights, an excerpt from Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State of the Union message (Jan. 11, 1944).


by Brenda Cochran – President, Farm Women United
In email to Debbie Hillman, July 20, 2018
All red highlights are from Brenda’s original message

Hi, Debbie

I have been really busy, unable to reply sooner. I am sorry for that. We face unprecedented stress in all aspects of our lives from low milk prices and the strain it is having on our family.

It was nice hearing from you. I appreciate your inquiry about my references to the Constitution in the materials published for FWU in the present situation facing dairy farmers. Like you, I am an almost 66-year old “activist”—for justice for dairy farmers.

I am not a lawyer, a Constitutional scholar, or a political science professor, just a citizen, like many, who feels “wired” and imprinted with a gut feeling that dairy farmers’ Constitutional liberties are violated every day under current federal dairy policies. I believe any Americans, who recognize their protected rights, can tell when they are being taken advantage of, abused, degraded, victimized, marginalized, disenfranchised etc. by THUGS and TYRANTS, inside and outside of government, who care nothing about other people’s rights.

My interpretation of Constitutional rights for farmers is anecdotal and specific to how dairy farmers are being treated by the federal government at all levels and by the criminals running most of the Capper-Volstead dairy co-ops and the dairy “Industry,” in general, under the protection of the government.

That is why I often tell folks that the crisis facing dairy farmers at this time in history is actually a political crisis with the socio-economic symptoms manifesting in the farmers’ lives, as we observe, a sure sign of disenfranchisement. The ensuing socio-economic abuse has stripped farmers of human dignity that is supposed to be protected by the Constitution.

I included a few themes from the Constitution below for you to review. The federal dairy and “Free Trade” policies and the revolting corruption the feds allow in the dairy co-ops have violated the liberties of farmers for decades. 90% of US dairy farmers have already been eliminated under these destructive policies. The rights may be more nuanced in the Constitution, but, I believe they apply, in the spirit of the Constitution, directly to us as citizen-dairy farmers.

“We the People” are ignored. Politicians and their aides do nothing for us but patronize us, blow us off, refuse to call us back, refuse to address what we write in our letters, refuse to meet with us at all to discuss our “issues” (e.g. through statute and regulations, special interests are allowed to steal from us literally—our milk, our land, our homes, our cattle…Under the current federal milk pricing regulations, every milk truck leaving a farm with another load of de-valued farm milk is a “get-away car” for the robbers executing grand larceny with the full support of the government, euphemistically referred to as a “federal matter.”)

There can be no “justice” for dairy farmers under these circumstances, and in every farm home and rural community this economic deprivation threatens and attacks “domestic tranquility…the general welfare…” effectively denying “blessings of liberty” to farmers and their “posterity,” with fewer farms than ever passing on to the next generation let alone functioning intact as dairy farms. The devaluation of the farmers’ milk sets up a de facto confiscation (“seizing”) of “private property” because the farmers have no way to protect their “private property” and the compromised Capper-Volstead dairy co-ops refuse to set a milk price to cover the cost of milk production to protect what the farmer owns.

Dairy farmers seemingly have no “standing” to have their “petitions for a redress…of grievances” acted upon by government authorities.

Chaos and turmoil, even violence and despair, ensue in any society or nation where lawlessness is encouraged and protected by government authority. Dairy farmers are thwarted by a government determined to surrender what farmers own to the control of others.

The co-ops use “block-voting” to silence us and “speak” for us. Many farmers are afraid to go to public meetings because they fear what the milk buyers might do to deprive them of a market for their milk if they “speak” out about the milk pricing scheme and marketing issues. Federal dairy policy requires dairy farmers to fund the “dairy check-off,” denying them the First Amendment right to “speak or not to speak” forcing farmers to finance research and development of dairy products against the best interests of the impacted dairy farmers.

This is just a layman’s assessment, but one FWU has determined will be part of our message until “justice” is returned to protect the private property of dairy farmers and their other Constitutional rights.

Thanks again for your inquiry and for allowing me to offer clarification. Please let me know if I can offer any further assistance. Thanks for your support for the ongoing and determined effort to return control of our food supply to local citizens, not at-distance politicians and government-sponsored “special interests.”

Brenda Cochran
President, Farm Women United

PS I have included below another Historic Document (“The Economic Bill of Rights”) along the lines of what you and I are examining from the archives FYI. (Red used simply for selective emphasis not to exclude other “Rights” or precepts.)


We the People of the United States, …to…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,… promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Bill of Rights, in general, respects each person’s human dignity by safeguarding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with the preservation of free speech,

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against… unreasonable…seizures, shall not be violated ….

…the freedom of speech, or of the press, …and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


The Economic Bill of Rights
January 11, 1944

Often referred to as the “Second Bill of Rights”

Excerpted from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s message to Congress on the State of the Union. This was proposed not to amend the Constitution, but rather as a political challenge, encouraging Congress to draft legislation to achieve these aspirations. It is sometimes referred to as the “Second Bill of Rights.”


It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people — whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth — is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights — among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however — as our industrial economy expanded — these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

— The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
— The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
— The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
— The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
— The right of every family to a decent home;
— The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
— The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
— The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.


U.S. Immigration Chaos in 2018: Questions to ask Locally

U.S. Immigration Chaos in 2018: Questions to ask Locally
Posted July 18, 2018

This post consists of two emails sent to the City of Evanston Refugee Task Force and other people concerned about fear-mongering, dictatorship, and privatization.  A third section contains some follow-up information.


EMAIL #1:  June 26, 2018

From: Debbie Hillman
Subject: Questions re: Evanston Refugee Task Force & immigration chaos — who’s profiting, White House plan, CBP map
Date: June 26, 2018 at 9:54:16 AM CDT
To: Savannah Clement

To: Savannah Clement, City of Evanston
Housing Policy & Planning Analyst + staffperson, Evanston Refugee Task Force
Evanston Refugee Task Force
Ald. Don Wilson, 4th ward
Evanston media (Ev. Roundtable, Ev. Now, Ev. Patch, Daily Northwestern)
Indivisible Evanston, Dear Evanston, OPAL
Other Evanston people against fear-mongering, dictatorship, & privatization

Hi, Savannah —

I have a few questions regarding the July 10 meeting of the Evanston Refugee Task Force. As you know, things are happening fast on the national level and new issues, fears, and chaos arise every day, often requiring local answers. I wonder if these items can be addressed at the next meeting, or if anyone has any immediate answers to my questions.

I know that the Evanston Refugee Task Force was originally set up to only deal with the increased numbers of legal refugees in Evanston (welcome to all!). However, two things have changed since the Task Force was set up (in Fall 2016 ?):
(a) The current federal government is constantly redefining “legal” and “citizen”.
(b) So far as I know, there is no other City entity that is addressing the increased chaos and attempts to terrorize the general population,
it would be helpful to have answers to these questions, sooner rather than later—and for the City of Evanston to have a comprehensive understanding of where the people of Evanston stand on some of these interlocking issues.

If there is some other citizen entity within the City of Evanston that can better answer these questions, I’ll be glad to contact the staffperson for that group (board, commission, task force ?).


Is anyone in Evanston profiting from U.S. government spending (public money) regarding immigration and detention policies over the last 20 years, especially since 9/11 (2001) and especially from the “zero tolerance” policy adopted in 2018?
— City of Evanston (investments ?)
— Northwestern University (investments, contracts, major donors ?)
— Hagerty Consulting or any other company connected to the current Mayor of Evanston, who is in this kind of business and who has expressed general support for private-public relationships of this kind?
— any Evanston-based banks or bankers?
— other Evanston companies or individuals?

As you know, various lists are being posted on-line of companies, universities, etc., that are profiting from or helping this inhumane terrorizing. I would like to add any Evanston information to those lists.

a. Did any Evanston person or entity have any input into the just released White House reorganization plan for the entire federal government?
— City of Evanston
— Northwestern University
— Hagerty Consulting, Mayor Hagerty
— Other Evanston companies or individuals?

b. Does anyone know how the reorganization plan will affect legal refugees, etc.?

c. Does anyone know of any Evanston-based effort to read the plan and respond? either as a City government or as a grassroots initiative, on immigration issues as well as all other issues impacted by the federal government — in other words all aspects of our lives?

The name of the plan is Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations.
Here is a link to one Twitter thread which highlights some of the plan’s elements: privatizing government services, selling off government assets, cutting services, etc. This thread is by Laurie Garrett, a former fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. It seems like a good document for Americans to read at this time. I will try to do so this week. It looks about 150 pages.

3. CBP 100-MILE SEARCH BORDER — includes Chicago
Does anyone know if the Customs & Border Patrol has been boarding Amtrak trains, Greyhound, or other public transportation in the Chicago area? When I spoke to ACLU Illinois in March, there had not been any local incidents. But since then things have ratcheted up near the Canadian border (New Hampshire, Maine).

Does anyone know why the Customs & Border Patrol Map of 100-mile search border includes Chicago (and all of Lake Michigan), even though Lake Michigan coastline is not an international border and Chicago is way more than 100 miles from Canada (about 300 miles, to be more exact), and the ACLU says the kind of searches that CBP is doing are unconstitutional?

See map here at ACLU website: The 100-mile border zone

The website says: “No matter what CBP officers and Border Patrol agents think, our Constitution applies throughout the United States, including within this “100-mile border zone.” When I talked to ACLU Illinois in March 2018, I was told that ACLU Michigan is trying to get the rationale from CBP for drawing the map the way they did. Since the CBP map went viral last week, I presume ACLU is still looking for answers. (A Michigan journalist to follow on this map and larger issues is Marcy Wheeler, website and Twitter. She is often a guest on Democracy Now!)

Thanks for anyone’s information. I’m happy to pass any information onto the rest of this email chain, as well as to any other entity who is working on these issues (such as GrabYourWallet), and through any public channels to which I have access (my blog, Twitter, etc.).


EMAIL #2:  July 9, 2018

From: Debbie Hillman
Subject: Re: Questions re: Evanston Refugee Task Force & immigration chaos — who’s profiting, White House plan, CBP map
Date: July 9, 2018 at 10:19:13 AM CDT
To: Savannah Clement

To: Savannah Clement, City of Evanston
Housing Policy & Planning Analyst + staffperson, Evanston Refugee Task Force
Evanston Refugee Task Force
Ald. Don Wilson, 4th ward
Evanston media (Ev. Roundtable, Ev. Now, Ev. Patch, Daily Northwestern)
Indivisible Evanston, Dear Evanston, OPAL
Other Evanston people against fear-mongering, dictatorship, & privatization

Hi, all —

This is a follow-up to my June 26th email bringing up three questions related to the current national atmosphere regarding immigrants, legality, asylum, separation of families at the border, profiteering, etc.

A. Evanston Refugee Task Force meeting
Thanks to Savannah Clement for agreeing to discuss these items at the next meeting of the Evanston Refugee Task Force. The meeting is tomorrow
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
11:00 a.m.
Room 2402
at the Civic Center (2100 Ridge Ave)

There will, of course, be other items on the agenda as the Refugee Task Force is acting as a coordinating body for the safety networks that support legal refugees in Evanston.

B. My original email is copied at the end of this email.
In summary, the three questions I brought up are:

1. EVANSTONIANS PROFITING FROM IMMIGRATION CHAOS? (detention facilities, food contracts, investments, etc.?)
2. NEW REORGANIZATION PLAN FOR THE US GOVERNMENT (White House Plan) — any Evanstonians involved in?
3. CBP 100-MILE SEARCH BORDER — includes Chicago — Why? (Customs & Border Patrol)

C. Response to my email
Thanks to those of you who gave a “thumbs up” on the need to address those questions. Comments that I got were:
— “These are excellent and important questions.”
— “I hope that the Task Force can focus on some of the important issues that you raised.”
— “Good questions, Debbie–thank you for your thoughtful thoroughness in phrasing them.”

I did not receive any negative comments. Nor have I received any substantive answers to my questions.

I do have some relevant new information to relay and to report, which may inform our discussion tomorrow:

From Northwestern University — Center for Forced Migration, Buffett Institute for Global Studies
Prof. Galya Ben-Arieh (a member of the Evanston Refugee Task Force) prepared and sent a 7-item resource guide specific to the Central American families being separated and detained at the US/Mexico border. For ease of access, I have posted it on my website:
Of particular interest is Item #7, a letter from a University of Chicago center cautioning the general public about visiting or protesting at children’s centers. (Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights)

If anyone wants to re-Tweet, I’ve also posted it on my Twitter page:

2. “Who is making Money from ICE in your State?”
This map, article, and database has been put together by RealSludge. There are some Chicago-area entries, including one of questionable accuracy: “Village of Oak Lawn” is listed as a “for profit” entity. Definitely a work in progress.
Or re-Tweet from my Twitter page:

3. WHITE HOUSE PLAN to reorganize the US government
White House reorganization plan or

I have read through the plan a couple of times and the issues that other US observers have brought up are very real:
a. It seems a major attempt to privatize much of our government (including selling off “surplus” real estate, re-organizing the Postal Service (again)).

b. At the end of the body of the report is a major red flag — an innocuous quote by an anonymous person.
p. 121 “Let President Trump reorganize the government like a business.” — Michelle, Delaware
(In my opinion, government should most definitely NOT be run like a for-profit business.)

c. I did not see much regarding immigration and refugee policies, but there are sections on Dept. of Homeland Security, as well as some major restructuring of international aid (US AID especially). See section on p. 41: Optimization of Humanitarian Assistance.

d. Plus many of the safety net programs (student loans, Social Security, financial literacy, mortgage assistance, etc.) are likely being restructured in order to reduce services and $$ support.

e. I recommend people read through any or all of the following:
— the Table of Contents
— the paragraph summaries for each item in the Table of Contents (p. 15)
— the full report if you have time. Much of it is gobbledygook, but we know that the gobbledygook is code for something that benefits the few people who wrote this plan — and probably doesn’t benefit the rest of us.

f. Public process? Yes, there may be some good ideas in here. No question that the federal government is too big. But where’s the public process? I did not see any reference to one.

g. Next steps:
Summer 2018: “OMB and agencies begin a dialogue with Congress to prioritize and refine proposals to best serve the American people.” An implementation plan will be put in place.

I look forward to being part of Evanston conversations about all of these important issues. Thanks again to Savannah for agreeing to talk about them at tomorrow’s meeting of the Evanston Refugee Task Force.

FOLLOW-UP INFORMATION as of July 18, 2018

There’s a new grassroots initiative being organized by “grandmothers”. They are caravaning from NYC to the border (Texas), leaving July 31, arriving Aug. 6.
Here’s their website. Grannies Respond

Congressional task force to oversee reunification: Jan Schakowsky as a sponsor?
A Georgetown law professor (Heidi Li Friedman) has put together a petition to ask Congress to create an emergency task force to oversee the reunification — i.e., make sure it happens. There is precedent for this kind of task force (e.g., one of the big oil spills was monitored in this way).
Here’s the petition: