Dear Supporters of Food Freedom,
I’m writing to thank you again for your support of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and to highlight some of FTCLDF’s activities over the past year. It’s been a productive time for the organization and its members. Every donation counts.Deep gratitude to the thousands of donors that stand behind us so we can stand up for sustainable farmers and food freedom [music courtesy of Jan Garrett and JD Martin]
One of the biggest roadblocks to a prosperous local food system has been the lack of local slaughterhouses available for small farmers to use; thanks to Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky’s Fourth District, there is now a bill before Congress addressing that problem. In July, Representative Massie introduced the PRIME Act (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act), H.R. 3187. This bill will give states the option of allowing the sale of meat slaughtered and processed at a custom facility in intrastate commerce. FTCLDF attorneys worked with Massie’s staff in developing the bill. Currently, federal law only allows the sale of meat that is slaughtered at an inspected facility; in many parts of the country the lack of inspected facilities makes it difficult for small livestock producers to meet the demand for grass-fed beef. The PRIME Act has 17 cosponsors at this time with the potential to have many more.
Raw Milk Access Increasing
Raw milk continues to be an area where the Fund and its members are making progress. Six states passed legislation in the 2015 session increasing access to raw milk.
- Connecticut – Herdshare ban lifted
- Oregon – advertising ban lifted
- South Dakota – SB 45 allows the sale of raw milk and cream on farm and through delivery.
- Utah – prohibition on cowshares partially lifted to allow raw milk and raw milk product distribution by micro-dairies
- Vermont – increased the amount of milk that can be sold by some producers
- Wyoming – Food Freedom Act includes the sale of all raw dairy products direct to consumers
Additionally, in Maryland, one of the most anti-raw milk states in the U.S., FTCLDF board member and Weston A. Price Foundation President Sally Fallon became approved to sell raw milk produced at her farm for pet consumption, a significant step toward eventually legalizing the sale of raw milk for human consumption in that state.
At the federal level, Representative Massie has reintroduced raw milk bills that would allow the sale and distribution of raw milk and raw milk products in interstate traffic.
One bill (H.R. 3563) would allow the shipment of raw milk from a state where the sale or distribution is legal to any other state while the other bill (H.R. 3564) would allow the shipment of raw milk only from a state where the sale or distribution is legal to another state that has also legalized the sale or distribution. FTCLDF Attorneys worked with Massie’s staff last session on the development of these bills.
In the federal courts, FTCLDF is taking on the interstate ban of raw dairy products by representing Organic Pastures Dairy Company; OPDC has filed a petition with FDA to lift the interstate ban on raw butter. The case represents an opportunity to overturn the prohibition on a food that has a far better track record for food safety than most “legal” foods.
Settlements for Fund Members
General Counsel Gary Cox successfully settled two cases recently on behalf of Fund members. Gary negotiated a settlement in an overspray case on behalf of North Dakota produce farmer Glendon Philbrick to compensate the farmer for damage suffered after a pesticide application affected his vegetable crops. Overspray cases continue to be a major focus of FTCLDF’s litigation efforts; Cox is currently representing overspray victims in Texas and Michigan whose cases could be going to trial next year.
In the other case, Cox settled a suit involving livestock farmer Neil Perin and a slaughterhouse that had botched an order Perin had with the slaughterhouse on the processing of veal calves. Perin refused to pay the slaughterhouse owner who slandered Perin by telling his customers that the meat in question was adulterated. Cox negotiated a settlement in which the slaughterhouse owner agreed to pay Perin damages for the slander. Perin fought back against the slaughterhouse in a situation that is all too common–a farmer receiving poor service from a slaughterhouse that enjoys a local monopoly and has less incentive to provide quality work.
A Fund member with recent success in the courts has been Virginia oyster farmer Anthony Bavuso; a York County judge ruled this past summer that the state Right to Farm Act controls over a local ordinance requiring Bavuso to obtain a special use permit to operate his oyster farm. York County is appealing the decision.
In one other case of note, attorney and FTCLDF board member, Judith McGeary, wrote an amicus curiae brief in support of a lawsuit the Institute for Justice filed on behalf of a home baker challenging the Minnesota cottage foods law. McGeary’s brief helped reverse a lower court ruling against the baker; ultimately, the case was dropped when the Minnesota Legislature passed a more favorable cottage foods law.Annual and monthly donations by private individuals provide a significant portion of the funding for FTCLDF’s efforts. Year-end gifts ease the financial strain of the winter months.
On the membership side, FTCLDF has done a couple of things this year to improve member services. First, we have created a homesteader membership category with a less expensive membership fee to serve those who are farming primarily to feed their families. Any farms not selling or distributing raw milk that have less than $15,000 per year in sales and farm less than 10 acres are eligible for Homesteader membership.
Second, FTCLDF board member Charlotte Smith, who runs a successful diversified farm in Oregon, is now giving webinars helping farmers to more effectively market their products. Founder of 3cowsmarketing.com, Charlotte is conducting periodic live sessions with Q&A for FTCLDF members. In 2016 we will be looking to introduce additional webinars helping farmers with their business.
Food Freedom Fest
FTCLDF strives to be a leader in the food freedom movement and this past August we held our second annual Food Freedom Fest in Staunton, Virginia, and at the Salatin’s Polyface Farm. Those attending heard talks from U.S. Representative Thomas Massie, Joel Salatin, Tennessee State Senator Frank Niceley and Cornucopia Executive Director Mark Kastel among others. The event is an opportunity to network with others in the food freedom movement; participants at the Food Freedom Fest have said it energizes them for the work ahead on local food initiatives and legislation in their respective states.
Finally, an update on the transition to a new sister foundation; the 501(c)(3) Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund Foundation. Elizabeth Rich, Vice-President of FTCLDF, has filed the application for the 501(c)(3) designation with the IRS. It is expected that we will be approved sometime either in the winter or the beginning of spring.
In the meantime for those wishing to give a year-end tax-deductible gift, a donation can be made online through Network for Good by using this link: bit.ly/NFG4FTC. [Tax ID 68-0480736 — Be sure to use this link since “FTCLDF” will not show in search results.]
Many thanks again for your past support and your belief in our mission.
Pete Kennedy, Esq. – President
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Office phone 703-208-3276