Join Attorney Pete Kennedy and John Dollarhite on the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s radio show this Saturday.
UPDATE: Listen to the recording of this show.
The Food Rights Hour
Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN)
Saturday, September 3, 2011
8 pm – 10 pm Eastern; 7 – 9 Central; 6 -8 Mountain, 5 – 7 Pacific.
In a different time zone? Click here for Your Time
Listen Live www.republicbroadcasting.org
QUESTIONS? Be sure to call in during the Show: 800-313-9443
Attorney Pete Kennedy, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund President and Farm-to-Consumer Foundation Vice President, will be your host. This week’s guest is John Dollarhite, a Missouri rabbit farmer who was threatened with a $3.9 million fine by USDA for selling without a license more than $500 in rabbits in one year ($4600 to be exact; netting $200 in profits).
Pete and John will discuss the rabbit farm situation and other topics including,
- USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) and its enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act
- Federal power to regulate intrastate commerce and recent enforcement actions
Read John Dollarhite’s account below:
Our story really can’t be summed up in a few sentences, but I’ll attempt to do so.
From a couple of bunnies for our teenage son to a $3.9 million dollar fine. How does that happen? When the US government decides to pass regulations that to the typical person sounds unbelievable, and it is, but it has become our reality. We originally contacted USDA to determine what we had to do in order to produce meat rabbits and sell the meat.
To our dismay, we were told USDA didn’t regulate the sale of meat rabbits so we didn’t need a license. As with all ventures you quickly learn what is profitable and feasible and what is not. By the time we raised the rabbits to butchering weight, transported them to a USDA inspected facility and back, we had so much into them it wasn’t going to be worthwhile for such little profit, or worse yet to be stuck with meat we couldn’t sell.
Requests for small, pet breed rabbits became so frequent, we switched our focus from meat rabbits that took 12-14 weeks to be sold, to pet breeds that sold at 4 weeks. Less feed, labor, and time meant more profits. It never occurred to us if USDA didn’t regulate a rabbit for human consumption that they would regulate a rabbit you sold as a pet.
We claimed our income on our taxes, along with our expenses and deductions. We had no idea we were in any violation of anything until a USDA inspector showed up one morning in the fall of 2009 with no search warrant, showed no identification and didn’t offer a business card. Not having anything to hide, we agreed to talk with her, which we have since learned was a mistake.
To make a long story, short, she left leaving us no documentation or information. We heard nothing from USDA until 3 months later in January of 2010 an APHIS investigator calls and demands a meeting. By the end of the meeting our attorney asked if we got out of the rabbit business would that satisfy USDA and the inspector indicated it would. Immediately we liquidated all our stock and cages by trading them for other farm items.
We again heard nothing until April of 2011 that informed us we were being fined $3.9 million, but they would agree to settle for $90,643 and we could pay at pay.gov with our credit card as if we were talking about a parking ticket. Hence, our nightmare began!
Please join our conversation!
Be sure to call in with your questions. CALL-IN NUMBER: 800-313-9443
Missed the previous broadcast on August 27? Listen to the recording for
The Vegetarian Myth and Deep Green Resistance
Dr. Kaayla Daniel, Ph.D., CCN & Lierre Keith | August 27, 2011