The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) was launched, Independence Day, July 4, 2007. The FTCLDF is a non-profit organization recognized under the Internal Revenue Code as a Section 501(c)(4) organization [EIN 20-8605130]. A (c)(4) organization is classified as a “social welfare” organization. Click here to view the IRS designation letter.
The FTCLDF protects the rights of farmers and consumers to engage in direct commerce; it protects the rights of farmers to sell the products of the farm and the rights of consumers to access the foods of their choice from the source of their choice. FTCLDF is a true grassroots organization and receives no government funding and little or no corporate funding.
Its main sources of revenue are membership fees, individual donations and grants for public interest litigation from various organizations.
MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES AND FEES
Annual memberships are $125 for farmers and artisan food producers, $75 for homesteaders, $50 for consumers; and for affiliates such as buyers clubs and cooperatives, the annual fee is $250 for the first fifty members and $5 for each additional member.
For those who have a religious or philosophical objection to becoming members in an organization that engages in litigation, FTCLDF offers renewable Non-Member Consulting Agreements at the same rates. All of the benefits of membership are available except the possibility of representation.
Membership costs and benefits are very reasonable especially when compared to the typical cost of a single phone call with an attorney. Should an incident arise that results in representation, those who have been FTCLDF members for less than six months may incur an additional charge equal to their annual fee.
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP
- unlimited consultation with attorneys on matters within the FTCLDF mission statement;
- contractual documents, e.g., herdshare contracts, buyers club agreements, etc.;
- access to information clearinghouse for those working on state legislation and local ordinances;
- unlimited consultation with former dairy farmer Wayne Craig and goat dairy operator Sharon Wilson, on matters related to farm operations;
- consultation with attorneys on matters related to food buyers club setup and operations;
- access to presentations by Charlotte Smith on matters related to marketing farm and artisan foods;
- toll-free emergency hotline to speak with an attorney if there is a surprise visit or inspection from a government agency;
- the possibility of legal representation on matters that are within FTCLDF’s mission statement at no additional cost.
THE BIG PICTURE
FTCLDF levels the playing field, making it more difficult for the government to win wars of attrition that drag farmers through administrative and judicial hearings; membership enables members to spend their resources on farming instead of lawyers. A primary aim at the state level is to create a food system in which people can obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice.
In addition to litigation, FTCLDF’s work includes advising on state legislation, working at the administrative level on matters before federal and state governments, and day-to-day member services. Member services have included work on the following: zoning, complaints from neighbor(s), on-farm poultry processing, disputes with farmers market managers, and slaughterhouse regulations.
Emergency member services are available 24/7 through a paging system. This benefit has been a legal lifeline to farmers, buying clubs and even consumers at the middle of a government enforcement action.
Some of the cases FTCLDF is litigating include: challenging FDA’s ban on raw butter for human consumption in interstate commerce; representing Virginia oyster farmer Anthony Bavuso in fighting the attempt by the York County Board of Supervisors to zone away his ability to make a living on his property; and funding the representation of Minnesota dairy farmer Dave Berglund in establishing his constitutional right to sell the products of his farm direct to consumer without government regulation.
HISTORY OF FORMATION
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) owes a debt of gratitude to Sally Fallon Morell for its formation and initial funding; WAPF provided $100,000 for the first year of operation. Here is a brief chronology leading up to the official launch of FTCLDF on July 4, 2007.
1999/2000: Informal set up of A Campaign for Real Milk (realmilk.com) by Sally Fallon Morell. This was adopted as a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) in 2000. As the demand for raw milk increased, WAPF began receiving many calls from farmers needing legal help to fend off regulators and other opponents of raw milk.
2003/2004: WAPF board member Valerie Cury Joyner suggested to WAPF president Sally Fallon Morell that a legal defense fund be set up to protect farmers selling raw milk and that it be modeled after the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Sally agreed and, for the next 2-3 years, tried to find an attorney to serve as general counsel and chief litigator for such an organization.
Spring 2006: Sally met Gary Cox when both testified at a hearing for an Ohio raw milk bill. At the time, Gary was representing dairy farmers Paul and Carol Schmitmeyer in a case they would eventually win that effectively legalized herdshare agreements in the state of Ohio.
Sally asked Gary if he would be interested in being General Counsel for the legal defense fund. Gary was working for the Columbus firm, Lane Alton Horst, and Sally entered an agreement with them to retain Gary as General Counsel.
Summer 2006: Gary, Sally, Taaron Meikle and Cathy Raymond met to start setting up FTCLDF. Taaron was to be president and Cathy, who was also working for WAPF, was hired as the administrator.
Fall 2006: The original board started meeting; Gary filed articles of incorporation in Ohio and the mailing address was set up in Falls Church, Virginia. Taaron and Cathy visited the HSLDA office and were advised to set up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to help fund FTCLDF.
July 4, 2007: Official launch of FTCLDF on Jake Zook’s farm in Christiana, Pennsylvania. The organization originally started with two membership categories: Farmers and Consumers with the annual fee being $125 each. shortly after the launch, the Consumer membership fee reduced to $50.
FTCLDF celebrated it’s 5th Anniversary at P.A. Bowen Farmstead in southern Maryland, the home of Sally and Geoffrey Morell. Along with Sally and Taaron, the original FTCLDF Board of Directors included Dr. Kaayla Daniel, PhD, CCN; Pete Kennedy, Esq.; Carl Little, Esq.; Judith McGeary, Esq.; Pat Stevens; Tim Wightman; and Dr. Will Winter, DVM.