Some Small Farmers Are Going To Jail -- To Spite the System
November 08, 2007
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.