We’ve only been at our farming here for about a year now, but we have visions for the future of where we want to take things. We want to be responsible farmers, treating our animals with compassion, and raising them in a way that is sustainable – healthy for them, for us, for the land, and for our customers.
One thing we dream about having is an on-site creamery, where we can make our own artisan cheeses, for instance. Many people enjoy eating cheeses that haven’t been produced in mass quantity in a factory setting, and have instead been created by hand, with thoughtfulness and creativity. Cheeses you can’t really buy in most supermarkets. I know I’m one of them!
But did you know that the federal government wants to make our food choices for us when it comes to cheese? They are forcing family farms to dispose of their cheese inventories – and placing those farms in jeopardy of being put out of business in the process. Why? Because those cheeses are made in a traditional manner, with raw milk. Regardless of the fact that nobody is getting sick from these cheeses, these are traditional recipes that have been made for centuries, and people want to buy and eat these cheeses, the government has decided that the choice should not be available.
There are two family dairy farms in particular that are under threat right now: Morningland Dairy, in Missouri, and Estrella Creamery, in Washington State. I really recommend that you read more about the specifics of their stories on the Weston A. Price Foundation website.
You’ll notice the “Raw Milk Mob” note in the left-hand column of our site – there is a button where you can donate toward the legal defense of these family farms.
For anyone asking, “Wait a minute? Isn’t the government just trying to protect us?” I suggest that you read this piece on the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund site. The claim is that raw milk cheeses run the risk of listeria outbreaks. However, the article I just linked explains that there have been no reports of illness caused by raw milk cheeses for nearly four decades, and possibly longer. And, as the article details, “According to the CDC, for every case of L-mono reported there are two other unreported cases. By way of comparison, for every reported case of salmonella poisoning, there are thirty-eight cases—in other words, if there is a case of illness from L-mono the likelihood is much greater that it will be reported.”
So the government is “protecting” us against a threat that doesn’t even really exist – or at least, is so unlikely, that greater threats are posed by other foods (especially those grown and raised in filthy conditions, as frequently seen in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations like those used by BigAg companies.)
It’s worth knowing that these government agencies are going to protect the interests of BigAg – they’d rather see us all eating factory-produced food, because the officials in the USDA and FDA are former employees or lobbyists for BigAg conglomerates, and they usually return to those jobs after their gig with the government is over.
Perhaps you’ve seen the documentary Food Inc., and it’s caused your interest in locally grown foods to grow. If you haven’t, we highly recommend it. It will give you an opportunity to see the problems caused by the Big Agricultural operations in our country.
There’s a new documentary coming out soon called Farmageddon – it will be showing us what is happening on family farms across our country. They are being raided by armed agents and having all of their assets seized. Farmers are going to prison. It’s really important to realize that family farms in our country are under threat by the government. That includes ours, and we’ve barely gotten off the ground, relatively speaking.
The Food Safety Modernization Act is in congress this week, and there’s a lot of debate and discussion as to how it will affect family farms and local food, including what you might be currently purchasing at your local farmer’s market, or growing in your own backyard. While the amendment proposed by Sen. John Tester (D-MT) would exempt small farms (defined as operations selling less than $500k in product per year, within 275 miles from their location) from the federal oversight, there is opposition by many big producers to this, claiming that it would allow unsafe food to be sold to the public. However, those small operations would still be subject to the state and local regulations that they must already comply with – the food already has to be safe! The FSMA is intended to keep the big producers in line, and when they have issues with e. coli, salmonella, etc., the fact that they have national distribution of their product will not inhibit safety recalls, because they will have been required to keep diligent records. But these larger producers are seizing on the opportunity to try and eliminate their smaller competition by bullying them with bureaucratic burdens.
I hope that this post has helped bring awareness to our readers of the very real issues facing family farmers in our nation. It’s worth keeping tabs on things like the Food Safety Modernization Act, because it might result in you discovering some of your favorite items or vendors are no longer at your local Farmer’s Market or Stand. Maybe the farm itself is gone. If you like your local food, and want the right to keep making your own food choices, then perhaps you want to take the opportunity to write your elected officials.