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Sheriff Bridles WI Dept. of Ag.

Written By: Jerry Hanson  |  Posted: Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

            Since January of 2012, nearly one whole year, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), under the guise of "food safety", has been wasting the taxpayers' money seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Arlin Bender of Unity, Wisconsin from helping his neighbors and fellow Mennonite church members butcher their own livestock. Recently, in the midst of a tragedy and funeral in the Mennonite community, DATCP officials insisted they inspect Arlin's butcher shop. Arlin's plea to DATCP that they wait just a few days until after the funeral, fell on deaf ears: DATCP officials continued to insist they were going to inspect his facility in the midst of this community-wide sorrow.

            When word of DATCP's tactics reached Clark County Sheriff, Greg Herrick, he informed DATCP that they would not, by his authority as Sheriff of Clark County, inspect Arlin's butchering facility during the community's grief.

            DATCP did get their opportunity to inspect Arlin's butchering facility at a more appropriate date. Arlin has learned to have witnesses and an attorney present during these inspections. This appears to be disturbing to the DATCP officials. Last week, when DATCP officials came to Arlin's home, according to eyewitnesses, Paul Pierce of DATCP refused to shake Arlin's hand when Arlin was kind enough to extend his hand to him.

            This past week's inspection was part of DATCP's preparation for the Monday, December 3rd court hearing in which DATCP has filed for a permanent injunction to prevent Arlin from ever earning a living as a butcher, or helping his friends and neighbors safely butcher their livestock. Both the temporary injunction which is in place until July 2013 and the permanent injunction sought by DATCP, appear to go far beyond the law by prohibiting Mr. Bender from butchering his own livestock or his neighbors livestock in exchange for bartered goods or services.

            Arlin's year-long experience with DATCP has him and many others wondering how a state agency can be so heavy-handed with the citizens they supposedly serve. Has the Wisconsin legislature empowered these government bureaucrats with unlimited powers? If so, our legislators need to correct this.

            Could other sheriffs in their respective counties put a stop to these over-zealous bureaucrats? Apparently they can. Sheriff Herrick exercised and proved his authority over DATCP. Could he just as easily tell DATCP to never again step foot on Arlin Bender's property? Let's encourage our sheriffs to stand up to the myriad of state and federal agencies that under the guise of public safety (and a host of other misguided and unconstitutional excuses), daily infringe upon the lawful rights of the citizens of their counties. Thank God for sheriffs that know the constitution, that know their authority, and have the guts to exercise their authority.

            Update:  The December 3rd hearing was turned into a scheduling event.  The hearing is scheduled for January 16th at 11:00am.  The hearing is set to modify the temporary injunction and the Benders would appreciate anyone coming to show their support.  It will be at the Clark County Courthouse in Neillsville, WI.  A court trial is also scheduled for 8:30 am March 4th and 5th.

            Jerry Hanson is an owner and a writer for the US Journal.  Email:

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