A growing number of small farmers in the United States, fed up with federal regulations that they say favor big business, are facing felony charges and possible jail time.
Farmer Richard Bean, who runs Double H Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his partner are being charged with felony intent to defraud, which carries the possibility of three years in jail for a conviction, for selling meat improperly labeled “certified organic” along with seven misdemeanor charges.
“We were trying to skirt the system. A small farm, making it work," Bean said. "We were able to earn a significant amount more per animal, and that‘s how we are able to compete with corporate agriculture."
Among the farm’s offenses were not slaughtering animals at a state-inspected facility, and placing certified organic stickers on meat that had been raised according to organic standards, but was not certified as such.
Government officials say the federal and state rules are designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods. However, proponents of local foods (locavores) and small farms, believe the regulations are forcing small farms out of business, and that government-certified organic foods are inferior to locally produced ones.
Small farmers and locavores are calling for unregulated direct sales of locally grown foods that allow people to obtain fresh foods that are better for the environment and the local economy.
It’s not bad enough that multi-national corporations are forcing small farmers out of business. Now the last remaining farmers who are trying to raise food by traditional, safer, standards are being prosecuted and sent to jail -- for selling food that is of better quality than any factory farm could ever hope for.
In the United States (and much of the world), money talks. One of the best ways to voice your opinion about this injustice is to spend your money with local small farms, farmers’ markets, and community-supported agriculture programs, and NOT with supermarkets and big-name retailers like Wal-Mart.
Please forward this article to your friends and family to help spread the word. If enough of you decide to support only naturally raised food from local farms, the industry will have no choice but to change its ways.
Fortunately, the “locavore” movement is already strong and growing in the United States, and it’s being fueled by people like you who are in-tune with the way nature works. You trust the farming methods of your ancestors over a government-approved sticker.
The absolute best food options for you are in-season varieties of produce and naturally raised meats that are grown locally. Many of them will likely also be organic, even though the farmer may not be able to afford the federal certification process to legally call them that.
Food from local sources is fresher, does not waste fuel being transported to you, and tastes like real, home-grown produce should: delicious!
For an excellent list of sustainable agricultural groups in your area, please see Promoting Sustainable Agriculture.
And remember, if you stick to foods raised in a natural, healthy way, nature will take care of your health.