MOUNTAIN VIEW, Mo. -- After a two and a half year legal battle, 15 tons of cheese made and aged near Mountain View was hauled to a dump. To fans of natural foods, it is monumental waste and over-regulation. To Missouri's Milk Board, it's merely protecting public health.
"I see the destruction of what my wife and I and family have worked to build," said Joseph Dixon, owner of Morningland Dairy.
Dixon and his family aren't the only ones outraged by the trashing of about 30,000 pounds of cheese produced on the farm in Howell County.
"You said earlier you would weigh this cheese. How do we know that you're being held accountable gentlemen?" a bystander asked of State Milk Board members.
Members of the State Milk Board, which embargoed the cheese 2 1/2 years ago, arrived to dozens of protestors.
"You have people here today that are saying, hold it! We have questions why, and that's why these people are here, and we appreciate everyone being here," said Dixon.
Tests on Morningland Dairy cheese in California triggered the dairy's shut down. Though FDA tests of the facility turned up clean, both the tests in California and later private testing in St. Louis found two bacteria- staph-aureus and listeria. The Dixons, who believe raw dairy is healthier, were not satisfied with the tests.
"They really haven't found anything, no sicknesses, no illnesses in 30 years. But it's what-if. And in the United States of America, if what-if now wins, we have no country left," Dixon said.
Both Howell County Court and the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the milk board's decision to destroy all the cheese.
"We asked for trial by jury; we were denied because it was a regulation, not a law. It wasn't passed by congress," said Dixon.
A couple of years ago, the Dixons still had hope of someday making cheese again and were milking daily, but now, the milking barn is empty because the dairy herd is gone.
"If I tried to start back up, it would cost so much to get it in the cooler, and then, if they find, quote, one thing they can complain about, one thing, I'm shut down again, and every bit of that has to be destroyed," said Dixon.
Neither Milk Board members at the dairy or the Missouri Department of Agriculture would comment to reporters on the destruction of the cheese, but they did send copies of court documents in the case, which are attached to this story.