FTCLDF Summary 2013, cont’d
Page 4 – Membership / Finances
The Fund continues to meet the needs of its growing membership which includes not only family farms but also the consumers and buyers club members who obtain foods from these farms as well as homesteaders and artisan food producers, many of whom source ingredients directly from the farm.
Protecting the right to the food of your choice – Join Now
The Fund successfully held its first annual membership drive in March 2014 to “Sow the Seeds of Food Freedom for Future Generations.” Membership is a key source of funding for FTCLDF and also contributes to greater political power in advocating for the local food movement.
The Fund has four membership categories: Farmer, Consumer, Artisan Food Producer (e.g., off-farm food producers selling their products direct to consumers), and Affiliate Community (e.g., food buyers clubs and cooperatives). The Fund also offers Non-Member Consulting Agreements (NMCA) for those who have a philosophical or religious objection to membership in an organization that engages in litigation, such as persons from the Mennonite, Amish or other Anabaptist faiths. Those under an NMCA enjoy the same benefits as members except the possibility of representation.
The core membership benefits are:
- Unlimited consultation with attorneys on matters within the Fund’s mission statement. Legal services include interpretation of federal and state laws and resolving disputes on the administrative level with government agencies.
- Tailored contracts and other documents, including herdshare agreements and buyers club contracts.
- 24/7 access to toll-free hotline to reach an attorney in an emergency.
- Possible representation on matters within the Fund’s mission statement.
- Consultations with operational experts:
- farm management practices with Tim Wightman, who operated shareholder dairies in Wisconsin and Ohio for several years and is one of the leading agricultural consultants in the country.
- administrative setup and operation of food buyers clubs with Fund board member John Moody, who is the administrator for a successful buyers club in Kentucky.
- dairy goat operations and herd health with Sharon Wilson, who owned and operated the largest raw goat dairy in Colorado (Natural Choice Dairy, LLC) and was one of the founding board members and Treasurer of the Raw Milk Association of Colorado (RMAC). Her role in RMAC was to help to define and create testing regimes for goats and raw goat milk along with quality recognition and recommended collection processes.
- A 15% discount on all items purchased through the Fund’s online store.
- Access to the Members-Only website for informational resources, recordings, etc. This site is currently being reorganized to enhance features like “Ask the Expert” and to serve as a repository of relevant case law, analyses and research to support the Fund’s growing attorney network.
In an effort to meet the information needs of the growing local food community, the Fund provides educational resources through the online store, via the Members-Only website and as optional membership gifts.
The Members-Only website provides free access to conference recordings (e.g., both the 2010 and 2011 Raw Milk Symposium audio recordings) and video presentations (e.g., the three-hour Activist Workshop video recording by Fund board member Judith McGeary taped at the 2011 Weston A. Price Foundation’s Annual International Wise Traditions Conference). More items will be added in the near future.
Booklets published by the Fund, often in partnership with others, are offered as a gift to new members; these may also be purchased through the online store:
- Raw Milk Production Handbook by Tim Wightman, which is also available for download courtesy of the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation;
- Safe Handling – Consumer’s Guide: Preserving the Quality of Fresh, Unprocessed Whole Milk by Peggy Beals, RN; quantity discounts are available directly from Spring House Press; and
- Food Club and Co-op Handbook by John Moody.
Currently, individual members may choose either Safe Handling or the RMP handbook. All three are provided to Affiliate Communities.
The Fund is a true grassroots organization and receives the bulk of its revenue from membership fees and private individual donations. “Corporate” donations come from small businesses that support local food production; the Fund receives no funding from any government agency.
Within the past year or so, the Fund has received support from like-minded individuals who have chosen to allocate a portion of their business proceeds to aid the work of the Fund. Some give directly to the Fund and others make tax-deductible donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofits that have set up accounts earmarked for the Fund.
Expenses continue to increase as the Fund takes on more cases and expands its outreach to the public. In 2013, legal services accounted for 43% of total expenses, 31% for education, 23% for operations, and 3% for merchandising.
Options for Tax-Deductible Donations
Tax deductible donations earmarked for “FTCLDF” may be made directly to either of these nonprofits:
WAPF: The Weston A. Price Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was instrumental in establishing the Fund and has now arranged to disburse monies earmarked for “FTCLDF” not only for public interest litigation but also for educational activities related to the Fund’s mission. Call 202-363-4394.
FTCF: The Farm-to-Consumer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, accepts donations earmarked for “public interest litigation” (PIL) and disperses the monies as grants to the Fund for specific cases. Call 513-593-9430.
The Fund’s capacity to take on cases is governed by the resources available. The commitment of those in the growing attorney network is evident by the reduced fees charged for handling cases and even the offers to work pro bono. The Fund’s costs are often far less than what farmers would have to pay on their own. Many issues are resolved at the administrative level, saving thousands in potential court costs.
ABOUT FTCLDFThe mission of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (“FTCLDF” or the “Fund”) is to protect the rights of farmers and artisan food producers to market the products of the farm direct to consumers, whether or not the farmer has a permit. The Fund also protects the rights of consumers to obtain the foods of their choice from the sources of their choice. We face a tough battle, as FDA, state agencies, and even local health departments continue to expand their powers and seek to impose their views on what foods should be consumed.
The Fund protects farmers from government harassment and levels the playing field, making it more difficult for the government to win wars of attrition by depleting the farmer’s resources through court proceedings. Farmers are now able to spend their money on farming instead of lawyers.
With your help, the Fund can build on the successes of the past year. Thanks for your support and your belief in our mission.