Chareva and I watched an excellent documentary over the weekend.  Farmageddon is a look at how our federal and state governments are beating up on small farmers who sell real food directly to the public.  If you still believe the fiction that we live in a free country, this film should change your mind.

Farmageddon was released in 2011, but I somehow missed it.  I became aware of it last week only because Passion River Films, which is placing Fat Head with schools and libraries, sent me a proof of a promo sheet that included both films.  Intrigued by the description, I asked them to send me a copy.

The film was written and directed by Kristin Canty, who wondered why it’s legal to buy processed junk food for her four children, but often illegal to buy real, fresh, unprocessed food directly from a local farmer.  As she put it:

“I decided I needed to tell this story. My goal was to let these honest farmers using centuries old farming practices tell their side of the stories. So, I set out to make a film. Farmageddon is in no way meant to convince anyone to drink raw milk, or eat grass fed beef, but rather an argument to allow those that want to make those choices to do so. It is simply about freedom of food choice.”

Much of the film is exactly that:  small farmers and co-op owners telling their own stories — often augmented with video footage they shot while being raided by government agencies.  Those stories ought to horrify you.  They did me.  Imagine hearing a noise in your kitchen downstairs, taking a peek down there, and seeing some burly guy dressed in black pointing a gun at you and ordering you downstairs.  (That particular farmer believed for a moment that a serial killer had broken into her home.)

In raid after raid documented in the film, police and government agents showed up in SWAT gear, guns drawn.  The raid on Rawesome Foods, which I wrote about in a previous post, was one such raid caught on video and included in the film.

I always wonder why raiding a co-op or small farm compels these government thugs to pack enough heat to take down a Central American drug cartel.  What do they think the farmers are going to do?  Hurl gallon jugs of raw milk at them?  Slap them with some unwashed spinach?  Splatter fresh eggs all over those cool SWAT uniforms?

Before anyone protests that the farmers who were raided must have been breaking some laws (we’ll set aside the stupidity of those laws for now), in many cases they weren’t.  In what struck me as the most outrageous episode documented in the film, federal agents seized and destroyed a flock of milk sheep from a family farm.  The family had legally imported the sheep from Belgium and New Zealand and jumped through a number of federal hoops in the process.  So did the feds raid the farm because the family was selling raw sheep milk illegally?

Nope.  The USDA decided – based on zero evidence – that the sheep might be carrying Mad Cow disease.  Rather than do something legal and logical, such as testing the sheep, they seized the flock and destroyed it.  When the family demanded the results of tests the feds had conducted after killing the sheep, they were told (for months on end) that the results were pending.  They only learned later, in court during a lawsuit they filed, that the results were negative and the feds had known as much almost immediately.

Since this was a government operation, the idiocy didn’t stop with destroying expensive sheep.  No, the feds decided the entire farm might be contaminated and also seized valuable equipment – they even carted away the hay that the sheep had been eating.  The feds claimed the hay had to be destroyed in a special facility to avoid the risk of spreading Mad Cow disease.  The farm husband became suspicious, followed some feds who took away his hay, and saw them dump the stuff in a nearby landfill.

When it became clear that the federal agents had destroyed a family’s livelihood to prevent a non-existent threat, the USDA expressed its deep regret by offering the family a fraction of what they’d spent to import the sheep.

And you wonder why I’m a libertarian?  As George Washington put it, Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force.  Force and the threat of violence should not be employed to prevent willing sellers from making voluntary exchanges with willing buyers.  It always amazes me how many people can’t wrap their heads around that simple idea.

On my other blog, I’ve been debating a big-government lover I knew when I lived in Los Angeles.  In one round, I sent him a link to an article about a raid on a farm-to-forks dinner, during which the food cops destroyed all the farm-fresh food.  Since admitting that government regulations can be wrong would cause his head to explode, he of course immediately replied that for all we know, the uninspected food would have made people sick.

Yes, whenever you sit down for a meal (whether the food has been inspected or not), there’s a small risk you’ll eat something that will make you sick.  Whenever you drive, there’s a small risk you’ll be killed by an oncoming vehicle.  Whenever you jet ski, or play football, or hike in the woods, or do pretty much anything besides lie quietly in bed, there’s a risk you’ll be injured.  The point is, you should be allowed to take those risks if you choose.

I can choose to smoke cigarettes, drink 44-ounce glasses of Coca-Cola, buy a pint of bourbon and chug it or have unprotected sex with strangers, and no armed authorities will try to stop me.  But if I want to buy raw milk from a farmer who certainly knows it would be bad business to make his customers sick, suddenly it makes sense to some people to send in men with guns to stop us.  Amazing.

And let’s be honest here … these raids aren’t about protecting the public from the horrors of raw milk or unwashed vegetables.  They’re about protecting large producers from the small farmers whose food more and more consumers are coming around to prefer.

Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation makes several appearances in the film, as does Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and an attorney who’s battling to give consumers the right to buy real food from real farmers.  Let’s hope he wins those battles.  As Thomas Jefferson said (quoted in the opening of Farmageddon):

If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.

This is an important film, and I urge you to find a way to watch it.

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43 Responses to “Film Review: Farmageddon”
  1. b-nasty says:

    “The point is, you should be allowed to take those risks if you choose.”

    People always tend to view this as some type of spectrum. Probably quite a few would be okay with buying/selling raw milk, but change that milk to cocaine and woo-boy!

    The problem with viewing victimless crimes as a spectrum of legality/illegality is who decides placement on the spectrum? Moreover, how likely is it that this will be resolved towards *more* freedom after government make-workers, established interests, and rent-seekers have set up shop?

    Surely most sane people can see that this ‘I know better than you’ push for totalitarian rule causes far more harm (men in black with guns) than the ‘problem’ it is trying to solve (possibly gross milk), right? RIGHT?!

    You would think so, but sadly I don’t think that’s the case. It’s like the joke about the whiskey-loving little old lady in church: She hooted and cheered when the preacher went after the fornicators. She hooted and cheered when the preacher lit into the gamblers. Then when the preacher went after drinkers, she grumbled, “Well, now that danged preacher has stopped preachin’ and started meddling.”

  2. Katrina says:

    As a liberal, I agree 100% with what you say. We need to get rid of large businesses paying off government officials. Government should never pick one industry over the other, and politicians should never have a personal, monetary interest.

    The only way to prevent large businesses from buying off government officials is to take away the power of those officials to do the large businesses a favor.

  3. Buckeyefn31 says:

    Fantastic stuff. I believe I have seen parts of this Documentary, I need to check it out again.

  4. Marc says:

    It’s available at Amazon as an instant video and DVD. It’s also on that well known video website, but I want to give the filmmaker some support.

    I wonder if the filmmaker knows it’s on that website. Several idiots over the past two years have taken it upon themselves to upload Fat Head and I’ve had to notify the website to have it taken down. One of the idiots — an amazingly arrogant 20-something punk — even got angry with me and got in touch and tried to explain to me that he was doing me a favor by giving away my film for free and that I didn’t understand how the “new economy” works.

  5. Galina L. says:

    If I were watching that film it would absolutely make my blood boil. You live on a farm now, I can’t imagine how you and your wife felt.

    Trust me, my blood was boiling.

  6. carb-a-notion says:

    “Force and the threat of violence should not be employed to prevent willing sellers from making voluntary exchanges with willing buyers.”

    While I agree the strong-arm government tactics in your farm family debacle are inexcusable, I see the same abuse upon the larger population from unaccountable corporate malfeasance in the name of profit.

    There is nothing stopping food, drug, medical, energy, etc. selling their services/ products and lies to us that doesn’t result in the ensuing food poisoning, pharmaceutical injuries, insurance rationing, and pervasive, environmental detriments. These infinite and predictable assaults upon consumers are perpetuated by preachers of free markets who seem comfortable ignoring the consequences of businesses allowed to “sell” without regard to possible harm, while begging to be left alone.

    It’s a sticky balance/message that government-paid politicians, partisan economists and party ideologues spend corporate and tax money to solve and broadcast, but as we see again this election cycle–without any satisfying consensus.

    We little gardeners/farmers/consumers are free only to eat and buy it seems at the altar of mega owners/managers of land (and the power that it inherently gives them) with their monopolized permission.

    As a serf of corporate and government dominance I and many like me are not happy. I would say we need more honest public structures, not less that are inevitably forfeited to corporate/business whose soul is profit over public trust. What I’ve seen of free-er markets as embodiments of responsible economics would have to be a fantasy in light of what just happened in the banking/housing/energy disasters of the arrogant USA all within seven years.

    If we can’t select and eat the food we know to be conducive to our general health (which requires constant informed vigilance) we ARE indeed serfs. Nuff said.

    Poisonings, injuries and lies are absolutely NOT the inevitable result of free markets. Free markets are based on voluntary exchanges. If you’re poisoned or injured by a product, you didn’t volunteer for that. If you’re lied to, you didn’t volunteer for that. It is a proper role of government to prosecute companies that lie to, poison or injure the public. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

  7. Tom Scott says:

    Do you know if the Institute for Justice (IJ) has been informed of any cases and, if so, what was their response?
    http://www.ij.org/cases

    I’m not sure, but my guess would be someone’s thought to call them.

  8. Nathan says:

    How terrible! Its a shame that our government doesn’t serve the people.

    Governments serve themselves. That’s why their power should be limited.

  9. Lepoth says:

    Heck, even lying quietly in bed isn’t safe. I’m usually in bed (and sleeping) when my leg decides to cramp on me. While it’s not exactly an injury, it hurts like a mother and feels worse than some of the injuries I’ve sustained before. Plus, while the cramp itself doesn’t last too long, the pain (while not nearly as strong) last almost all day.

    Existing pretty much means you’re in danger of possibly being in some sort of pain no matter where you are or what you are doing. If I want to put real food in my body and make that existence as good as possible for as long as I can, the gov’t should just sod off and let me do so.

  10. Sean says:

    “I can choose to smoke cigarettes, drink 44-ounce glasses of Coca-Cola, buy a pint of bourbon and chug it or have unprotected sex with strangers, and no armed authorities will try to stop me.”

    Not yet, geez, stop giving them ideas.

    Whoops.

  11. Per Wikholm says:

    I and Katarina bought a copy of Farmageddon a month ago. It still is in the DVD-player but we havn´t found the time for watching it. We will now… and even better, I think we are going to like it without fearing waking up the next morning, finding out that libertarian body snatchers has turned us into a Ron Paul activists.

    You don´t have to be a libertarian to dislike the current USDA (or Swedish equivalent) food regulations. Sure, government has a role in this but the industrialization of food was to a large extent market driven and places were people now adays by their food (like Walmart et c) have thier own standards that role small farmers out… regardless of the USDA.

    I don’t know about in Sweden, but in the U.S., the industrialization of food production was largely due to government heavily subsidizing a handful of crops, which encouraged farmers to grow the same crops on a massive scale year after year after year. It was still market-driven, but government subsidies became the market.

  12. Steve says:

    I haven’t seen the movie (yet), but I have no problem buying that the aforementioned raid did occur as described. If you want to see what will make any notion of individual liberties go out the window, just throw the threat an infectious disease in the mix. Unfortunately this is not only a regulatory issue but a cultural one as well. After a few generations of teaching schoolchildren we can all thank our robust health to Jonas Salk, the public at large not only allows this irrational behavior but perhaps endorses it.

    Let’s say I create a survey question loosely based on these events:
    “Your government officials have been made aware of a local farmer who has imported animals from a foreign country that has different inspection guidelines than the United States. Although legal channels were followed, it is unknown whether the animals in question have Mad Cow Disease. The animals could be tested but the only way to be 100% sure is to seize and destroy these animals along with any other animals, feed, and equipment that may have been exposed. Are you in favor of the seizure?”

    Sadly, I’m guessing 70% of those so-called freedom-loving Americans say “yes”.

    I’m afraid you’re right. The easiest way to take away freedom is to instill fear.

  13. Jenny says:

    Check out this blog which as one strongly involved in raw milk I’ve followed for years: http://www.thecompletepatient.com/article/2012/august/21/how-i-look-past-negativity-and-stay-positive-and-committed-food-rights

    David Gumpert’s blog has been fighting for food rights ever since in a long-planned sting 6+ years ago, delivery truck for a raw milk cow share, Family Farms’ Cooperative was stopped en route to Ann Arbor by MI sheriffs, everything on the truck seized, the driver-owner arrested, while at the same time in a two-point raid his home was searched and his computers, phone and dairy equipment seized…. a month before Election Day. Talk about poor planning on the govt’s part.

    Gumpert, a member of the FFC cow-share, wrote in outrage about the raid in his blog and generated huge support for Family Farms, inspiring people to write to the Michigan governor and other elected officials, causing them to backpedal.

    Michigan’s strong dairy industry has long fought against raw milk, even trying to get a law passed back in 2003 to prevent people from drinking the milk from their own cow or goat. It, of course, failed.

    Yup, they tried to make it illegal to drink milk FROM YOUR OWN COW in Michigan. I wrote about the hodgepodge of state laws in a previous post: http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2010/02/09/real-milk-gets-a-raw-deal/

  14. Bill says:

    This film is available on Amazon Instant Video and Netflix.

  15. Bernardo says:

    Hi,

    It’s funny, through Fat Head I learned about the Austrian School of Economics, Libertarianism and this dark totalitarian side of the left. I still believe in some kind of distribution of wealth though, since the artificial monopoly of violence introduced by governments causes a certain distortion in the accumulation of riches (medicine and its side effect). I wish this distribution was made without the middle man though. Suppose all the taxes went directly to the citizens and they could spend them as they chose, that would cycle the money in a much more productive way, I think. Anyways, people talk about being against corporations but pro government. But the government is a corporation, that tries do survive and grow as any of those headless monsters. The difference is they have guns! :P

    Large federal deficits certainly make the super-rich banking families richer.

  16. Bernardo says:

    I wish they would put Farmageddon on youtube as well, or NetFlix. Recently King Corn became available through youtube (http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DnvMxIEgbsIo). It’s a good way to spread the message and still get some money from it (through ads). Do you think about this possibility for Fat Head? Is it viable, financially?

    We’re better off sticking with iTunes, Amazon Instant Play, Hulu, Netflix, etc., for now. If our digital distributor later decides to go with an ad-supported version on YouTube, that’s fine by me.

  17. Jason Brady says:

    I’ve started getting in the habit of researching where quotes come from, as some are not really by the quoted source.

    For the Thomas Jefferson quote, it is a little different, but it was from a book written by him called “Notes on the State of Virginia”. It’s in the religion section, page 285. Just search for the word Medicine. Here is the real quote:

    “Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.”

    http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefVirg.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=17&division=div1

  18. Beowulf says:

    I’m hoping to have a small farm sometime in the next ten years. By that time I’ll be lucky not to have federal agents dropping from the rafters when I crack open a few free-range eggs to scramble in with some heirloom tomatoes.

    If they show up here, I’ll insist the land is used only as a Disc Golf course and I have no idea where the chickens came from.

  19. Cathy says:

    I just read an excerpt of your article to my sister-in-law who lives in a small town in central Alberta (Canada). I read the part about the sheep being taken away and she then told me about how a local cheese-maker was buying “over-quota” milk from dairy farmers and making cheese with it. He was told to cease as this was not allowed. Apparently the only thing farmers are allowed to do with “over-quota” milk is to pour it down the drain. Ridiculous! But then I was reminded of the recent viral video of Canadians buying up all the milk at a COSTCO in Bellingham Washington. They buy it there because it is almost half the price of the milk selling 50 miles away in Canada. So this is what milk-quotas are doing for us?! The stupidity just goes on and on.

    Give it time, and government will “solve” that problem by making it illegal to buy milk across the border.

  20. LCNana says:

    Tom, many people forget how this all got started – dust bowl, depression, first world war – first introduction of taxes, first subsidies to farmers because of dust bowl and depression, first propping up of wheat prices etc. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Now of course we’re afraid to let farmers, especially big farmers, fail so we have to keep the whole thing going. We’re also afraid to let corporations fail even if they are badly managed, because the workers and their families are VOTERS. Can’t have voters unhappy.

    In the dim dark past farmers failed, corporations failed, and the world moved on. New ones took their place – but now no more natural cycles. What a mess we’re in – and of course nobody wants to “go first” in getting us out of it.

    After reading some books on the Depression, I don’t believe those policies were a good idea in the 1930s either, but I suppose they were at least understandable. Now those policies are just plain ridiculous.

  21. John says:

    Theoretically, we are supposed to be founders, shareholders, and potential board members in the American government. We’re supposed to keep the government accountable. Unfortunately, most of us were sold a different class of stock than others.

    I agree that the nanny state is bad, and civil liberties should be paramount. However, there’s a downside to too little government. The government of a nation is supposed to protect its individual citizens by serving as a counterweight to the enormous power held by other groups — be they hostile nations or mega corporations.

    The problem is that our government doesn’t always do that. Instead, the rich run the government, handing themselves enormous subsidies and suppressing local innovation and creation that threatens to cut into their bottom line. Corrupt, paid-off pols get into government, and the resulting distortions and absurdities drive the good people away in disgust.

    Maybe there’s no permanent solution. Maybe it is inevitable that any government will be used by the powerful to maintain their power. It probably is. But hating and mistrusting all government isn’t going to get us anywhere. In practice, it’s the only effective weapon the people have against the kind of power that companies like Pfizer and Monsanto and Bank of America wield.

    Declawing the cat might save your couch, but then the rats are going to eat your lunch and shit all over the place.

    You do realize companies like Monsanto are powerful because of government, right? It’s our government that backs up Monsanto’s threats against farmers. Without government power, all a corporation can do to you is ask you to buy their products. You can say no. If the corporation defrauds you, poisons you, sends thugs to bully you, pollutes your land or water, etc., it’s a perfectly legitimate function of government to prosecute that corporation and demand you be compensated. As Thomas Jefferson said (I’m paraphrasing), the proper role of government is to prevent men from harming one another and otherwise to leave them alone. The corruption of government grows in tandem with government growing beyond that legitimate role.

  22. Lori says:

    “And let’s be honest here … these raids aren’t about protecting the public from the horrors of raw milk or unwashed vegetables. They’re about protecting large producers from the small farmers whose food more and more consumers are coming around to prefer.”

    I’m inclined to agree. If the USDA really wanted to protect people from harmful foods, it would have banned carrageenan from foods a long time ago. Carrageenan is used in laboratory animals to induce pain and inflammation. The undegraded kind is allowed in human foods, but experiments have shown it’s contaminated with degraded carrageenan and that humans may have the digestive machinery to break undegraded carrageenan down to the degraded form. I believe it’s what gave me the only migraine headache I ever had.

    It’s tough to find cream and certain other dairy products without carrageenan. It’s another reason to buy from small, artisanal farms; if you don’t want raw dairy, you can cook it when you get home, can’t you?

    True, and if you’re afraid of raw dairy, no one will make you buy it in the first place.

  23. DB says:

    Coming from New Zealand myself, and knowing the stringent efforts they go to to protect the sheep this does seem ridiculous. Farming is the biggest industry in New Zealand and the care they take to make sure outbreaks like Mad Cows disease don’t happen are far far far stricter than in the USA. So I find this very odd. There has never been a case of Mad Cows disease in New Zealand, so I fail to see how they thought they would have it.

    Lord only knows what the USDA goofs were thinking.

  24. HeidiK says:

    I live in Canada and grew up on a small hobby farm where we drank our own milk and ate our own eggs. When the selling and buying of raw milk became illegal my parents were dumbfounded. As a girl my mom’s family sold cream to people in town. They had healthy cows ad were clean. No one ever became sick from it and even as a kid no one ever feared drinking our milk because they could get sick. Now Health Canada has installed such fear and ignorance in people that you mention raw milk and they go green. And it isnt tb they are fearing. Nope, worms. WTF.

    The whole thing makes me angry and I dont know if I could handle watching the show you mentioned. Ignorance and injustice makes my blood boil.

    As with many regulations, the anti-milk laws weren’t passed because of any demand by the people supposedly being protected.

  25. Sally Myles says:

    Tom I’d be intrigued to know your views on Mad Cow Disease. My Great-Aunt, who was a surrogate Grandma to me once my own died, died of Creutzfeld Jacob Disease back in 1989, when there had been three cases in a decade in the world. She used to use a lot of meat products when she catered for Church functions, being an excellent cook. She went from being a fit and active 65 year old, to dead, in three weeks. Now I realise she was lucky, as she didn’t have to suffer for years like some from New Variant CJD. In the UK we were warned of a ticking time bomb of cases that would emerge. For the most part, that has not happened. There have been some, each and every one tragic in itself. but not the Armageddon we were promised. Anyone with a functioning brain should have seen that feeding ruminants the bodies of other ruminants was a disaster waiting to happen, but is it any worse than feeding ruminants CORN?? No we’ll not get CJD from corn fed beef, but look at what we ARE getting. Far more of us will die from diseases related to our consumption of corn, wheat and other grains than will ever die from CJD. How long will it be, I wonder, until a disease crops up related to corn consumption in cattle, some mutation of a bacterial disease that none of us are immune to and that can’t be treated with antibiotics, which of course drug companies are not developing as there is only money in drugs for chronic conditions, not acute ones where you fill one prescription then leave? The economy is based more and more on the rinse and repeat idea that we all have to be sick and tired. I should like to add that my Mum’s cousin was awarded a British Empire Medal for her charity work on CJD awareness. Took years before we all ate beef again, though. And I’m told that I’m STILL not allowed to donate blood or bone marrow, being related to a CJD victim. Go figure.

    I haven’t looked into Mad Cow disease, but feeding cows the bodies of other cows can’t be a good idea.

  26. The only way to prevent large businesses from buying off government officials is to take away the power of those officials to do the large businesses a favor.

    Well … you could also eliminate the fiction of corporate personhood and roll back the centuries of legal distortions that flow from that.

    I see pros and cons with that one.

  27. Elenor says:

    “If they show up here, I’ll insist the land is used only as a Disc Golf course and I have no idea where the chickens came from.”

    Tell ‘em these mean-old guinea fowl ran ‘em off, outta the woods, and the chickens are displaced persons for whom you’re running refugee camps! The feds might even give you a grant!! (Or import some free chickens for you from New Zealand!)

    That’s why I’ll never grow wheat on our land. I’m afraid the USDA would swoop in and give me your tax money.

  28. Craig says:

    We now live in a world where milk straight from a healthy cow is considered dangerous but it seems perfectly reasonable for 7-Eleven to be putting in mashed potato and gravy dispensers next to the soda fountains.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/7-eleven-ridiculous-mashed-potato-dispenser-could-u-171738860.html

    Head. Bang. On. Desk.

  29. Remember Max Weber’s theory. Government is a monopoly of violence over a given territory. Having lived on both sides of the atlantic pond, I noticed some interesting differences.
    In continental Europe, as long as the paperwork is done and the administrative machinery is fed, the system saves face. Over in the US I noticed that it is the small liberties we europeans take for granted that are oppressed. True there are bureaucratic idiocies and silly regulations and EU standards (such as defining the size of a eurocucumber ) but I have yet to hear of a SWAT or equivalent raid on a farm. There are food inspection organisation who usually go bother restaurants owners about dust on a counter, but surprisingly enough bother less the fast food chains, where they have nice stainless kitchens with non professional staff.

    I was amazed when I went to a pro cooking trade show last year to see that most of what was on display in the booths was fast food equipment!

    True to say there has been a few well publicized food scares, BSE / mad cow being one of the majors, as well as the dioxine contaminated chickens, which incidentally led to an episode of X-Files.
    But the law of unintended consequenses gave a few twists in the tail. Because of BSE, the use of gelatin in cooking, derived from animal bones, was banned for a few years. Which led to the use of other substances, amongst which carragenan, derived from sea mosses, which has been in use for centuries in gaelic coutries.

    Let us remember that many revolutions had food issues as their roots.

    E.

    I hope it sparks one here — a peaceful “throw the bums out” revolution, of course.

  30. J says:

    “Poisonings, injuries and lies are absolutely NOT the inevitable result of free markets. Free markets are based on voluntary exchanges. If you’re poisoned or injured by a product, you didn’t volunteer for that. If you’re lied to, you didn’t volunteer for that. It is a proper role of government to prosecute companies that lie to, poison or injure the public. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.”

    Like most libertarians you live in a dream world. How can government prosecute without laws, inspectors etc etc. Who does the the poison consumer report his poisoning to? If its spread over states, who has the resources to investigate the poisoning. Govt, that who.

    I fear government because its mistakes are generally due to stupidity.
    I fear the free market without strict govt control MORE because its mistakes are often deliberate in the pursuit of riches no matter what the cost.

    Like most critics of libertarians, you’re basing your beliefs on what you’ve been told libertarianism is instead of what it actually is. Libertarianism doesn’t mean we have no laws and no people to enforce those laws. It means we limit government to its legitimate functions of preventing people from harming each other, adjudicating disputes, enforcing contracts, and prosecuting those who break the (legitimate) laws. Most libertarians (including me) also have no problem with government building infrastructure, since that’s spelled out in the Constitution.

    The people living in a dream world are those who believe government power beyond what I described will be used to benefit the public instead of the government itself.

  31. newyorker says:

    sigh…i just don’t know what the solution is. these agencies were set up to serve the people and for a long time did so before becoming captured by the big players in our economy. an example that comes to mind was the requirement to label the contents of the food on the package; immensely helpful for many of us concerned about what exactly we were putting in our mouths.

    but regulatory capture is here to stay i’m afraid. we can vote out the rascals but new ones will appear beholden to the wishes of big ag. my guess is there was plenty of work to do for that agency going after the real bad guys and after the fix was in, it had to justify its existence by raided non-lawyered up small farmers. similar to the SEC ignoring the outrageous actions of the financial industry pre-2008 and prosecuting martha stewart.

    in my more despairing moments i agree with you we should just demolish the whole rotten edifice, but th even more quickly.at may only bring on the dystopian future even more quickly.

    There is that silver lining.

  32. Rae says:

    To quote a post I saw on facebook:

    The Two Most Misguided Notions Held in America:
    1. The gov’t wouldn’t really do that to us.
    2. If they did they would tell us about it on tv.

    Just from your description of what you watched it very evident that this documentary proves it. No doubt they do this to appease the larger companies that provide “food.” This country desperately needs separation of Corporation and State!

    Indeed.

  33. Dan says:

    This documentary looks interesting, I’m not sure I’ll watch it yet since it will just make me feel angry and powerless. In Canada we have many farmers’ markets where farmers can peddle fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and various other goods. I’m not sure how much it costs the farmers to do this but they seem quite popular and the prices reasonable. Is this not the case in the US? Could you not rent a booth and sell the eggs your chickens make? or are there too many hoops to jump through to get that done. I remember reading about a farmer near New York who wanted to sell eggs at a farmers’ market in NYC but said he would have to charge $12/dozen just to break even.

    There was some stuff going on around my area that was ridiculous. A farmer had been busted for selling raw milk even though he didn’t really sell it, he gave it away in exchange for a donation or some loophole like that.

    There are farmers’ markets in the U.S., but of course also restrictions on what they can sell. As one farmer explained in the film, by the time he jumped through all the federal hoops required to sell his pasture-raised hams, the ham is too expensive to be attractive to consumers.

  34. Dave, RN says:

    Police State.

    We’re living it now.

  35. John2 says:

    “And let’s be honest here … these raids aren’t about protecting the public from the horrors of raw milk or unwashed vegetables. They’re about protecting large producers from the small farmers whose food more and more consumers are coming around to prefer.”

    Tom, you must understand these raids are *training exercises* for the SWAT teams. You don’t want these poor rookies going up against *real bad-guys* their first time out in the field do you? They might get hurt!

    Grin.

    I see the point.

  36. “How long will it be, I wonder, until a disease crops up related to corn consumption in cattle, some mutation of a bacterial disease that none of us are immune to and that can’t be treated with antibiotics, which of course drug companies are not developing as there is only money in drugs for chronic conditions, not acute ones where you fill one prescription then leave?”

    It already exists – it’s called E. Coli 0157:H7.

  37. JM says:

    I watched the documentary and a good portion deals with raw milk. I live in a rural county with a good number of smaller farmers. Over 20 years ago we had a number of dairy farmers which belonged to a local coop for milk storage and sales. In the documentary the milk farmers shown were intelligent and well educated which speaks in their favor. Here we had several that didn’t maintain their property well, cut corners, and numerous times ended up spoiling/contaminating the coops milk. I witnessed this personally. Eventually it became too much and the coop is gone. Now there just a few dairy farmers left here. There is one who is willing to sell raw milk for use only with animals and pets. I used to buy from him. However his farm is horrible, a mess, the guy is a packrat, and I saw behind his barn the bodies of dead animals he never cleaned up.

    So the documentary features a better more responsible individual. There will always be the lax person who will ruin it for everyone else.

    That’s part of what it’s up to consumers to decide: do you trust this farmer or not?

  38. Sandi says:

    I am totally against this kind of criminalization of healthy food, I do believe that smaller government isn’t the answer, nor is taking the power away from people in power to do things for corporations. I agree that what has happened here is wrong but I want those people to be put to better use, to see our tax money going to important things that benefit the people, not corporate interests.

    I am a believer in government, it puts people to work and serves the people, what we need is our government to put this same zealousness into finding the banksters that have and are continuing to ruin this country with their financial schemes. If our government put have the energy into stopping those crimes as they do into trying to force corporate foods (and corporate everything else) down our throats this country would be in much better shape that it is.

    I want a big government that both employs and serves the people, not one that employs and serves corporations. To that end we must remove financial incentives from elections, we need to give every candidate the budget and that’s all they get, no corporate donations, or private for that matter, just an even playing field for all without out the taint of money from special interests.

    I’m sure everyone would like to see government power used wisely and beneficially, but that’s a pipe dream. It amuses me when people who don’t actually understand libertarian thinking accuse us of being dreamers who believe businessmen are all nice. (Not saying you made that accusation, but it’s a frequent one.) Going all the way back to Adam Smith and his book “The Wealth of Nations,” libertarians have insisted that people are self-interested and act out of self-interest. Smith warned of what happens when self-interested merchants get together with self-interested government regulators. The true dreamers are those who believe that once people go to work for government, self-interest and greed just magically disappear. Nope … government simply gives greedy, self-interested people the power of coercion over others.

    As for government creating jobs, sorry, but that’s not possible. Government spending can transfer jobs from one industry to another, or from a future generation to the present through deficit spending, but it cannot create a net gain in jobs any more than it can create a net gain of water in your bathtub by scooping water from one side to the other. Government is a zero-sum game. The money spent to “create” jobs is money confiscated from the taxpayers (now or in the future in the case of borrowing). That means those taxpayers can no longer spend the money to buy the products or services of their choice, which means they no longer create or support jobs producing those products or services. The government-supported industry’s gain is some other industry’s loss.

    Much longer explanation here, if you’re interested:

    http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=400

  39. Kathy says:

    Well, that was depressing. I watched Farmageddon last night.

    Barring accident and major disease, I could easily live another 25-30 years. What will pass for food by then?

    It will be something in a squeeze tube and it will just be called FOOD.

  40. Tori says:

    I saw “Farmageddon” about a month ago. It was both shocking and well done at the same time. People need to see what governmental officials will stoop to in an effort to stamp out anything they disagree with.

    I’m not political, but I do care about where our food comes from and what happens to it before it gets to me. I also don’t like what agribusiness is doing to the environment. For that reason, I raise chickens and try to keep a garden going.

    I’m a person who cannot consume anything made with homogenized or ultra-pasturized milk. I simply can’t digest it no matter how many lactaid pills I swallow. But when I drink raw milk. I do fine. No problems with it at all. In fact, I understand that this is rather common. You’d think the dairy industry would get behind legalizing raw milk because with more and more people becoming dairy intolerant, they’re losing customers faster than they can replace them.

    Alas, such is not the case. They’d rather shoot themselves in the foot.

    And as to your comment: “Whenever you jet ski, or play football, or hike in the woods, or do pretty much anything besides lie quietly in bed, there’s a risk you’ll be injured.” Even lying quietly in bed brings a risk. Some insurance companies sell policies for falling space junk. It could fall through your roof and onto your head. So the only way to be completely risk free is to be dead. But if space junk fell on your head, you’d probably be dead anyway. So, end of risk.

    Me? I’m willing to take the risk to drink milk that doesn’t make me sick.

  41. Walter B says:

    While I greatly appreciate you advice, I think I’d better skip watching the film. A few minutes into the trailer I found my blood pressure going up.

  42. hausfrau says:

    As a regular purchaser of raw milk I can attest to the “sliding scale” mental dissonance. I give raw milk to my children. It is full of soft-yellow toned butterfat and tastes incredible. My children have noticably less eczema and diaper rash while drinking it. Two years ago a cousin of mine I had recently reconnected with saw me “like” raw milk on facebook. She sent me a lengthy series of unsolicited nasty, vitriolic text messages telling me how ignorant I am and how she worked on a dairy and she knows how filthy daries are, how I must not love my children, etc. etc. I blocked her and cut off all contact with her because she impressed me as so hysterical that she might report me to CPS or something just for giving my kids raw milk or some other made up complaint (CPS: yet another corrupt government agency). The point is, one persons decision not to vaccinate their children or to give them raw milk, or to let them eat an unhealthy 7/11 diet is another person’s definition of child endangerment. An obese person’s food addiction is just as destructive as alcoholism, is just as destructive as a cocaine habit. Who gets to decide where my body and my family ends and the government begins once we decide to apply government force to suppressing vices?
    On the subjest of raw milk safety, I take responsibility for my choice of farmer. I think if it is sold in retail like in California it is a good compromise that raw milk dairies be inspected and tested. Raw milk dairies in california are much more stringently monitored than conventional daries. I say this because the customer isn’t able to walk through and observe the dairy on their own. At my farmer’s dairy I’m able to observe the milking and see how it is stored. Better than any other insurance, I know that my farmers feed all 6 (ranging in age from 10 to 6mos) of their kids on their own raw milk products.

    I’ll be the filthy dairy your cousin observed wasn’t selling raw milk, either.

  43. Hayley says:

    Man even though you know what’s coming in this video, it makes you cringe. The feeling of injustice must be one of the worst among all feelings!

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