Last week two Nelson County farmers were arrested for using non-approved labels as price tags, and I’m spitting mad about it. Now they’ve been charged with a crime for butchering their hogs and selling the meat, something that’s actually illegal to do in the state of Virginia. Family farms are criminalized in the commonwealth.
Double H Farm is owned and operated by Richard Bean and Jean Rinaldi, a couple in their 60s. Bean just wrapped up his term as president of the Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA), a marvelous organization dedicated to legalizing family farms. VICFA can’t have a lot of friends at Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Ten VDACS agents were involved on the raid on Double H, which ended in Bean and Rinaldi being handcuffed, placed in police cruisers, and taken to jail.
Which legislator is willing to stand up and say “yes, I oppose allowing farmers to raise animals, slaughter them, butcher them, and sell the meat?” I want names. Who is it that allows the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to behave like this? Todd Haymore, Kaine’s appointee who heads that department up? Does Governor Kaine support our system of laws that criminalizes family farms? This occurred in Del. Watkins Abbitt‘s district: does he support this arrest? These laws don’t exist in a vacuum — they came into existence by political means and they’re maintained by political means. I want to know who supports them and why.
Let’s contrast this with Topps Meat’s recall of 21,700,000 pounds of ground beef today. The meat is contaminated with E. coli. (This happens during the factory-farm slaughtering process, a result of cows’ intestines being slashed open and the contents — nascent cow shit — being sprayed all over the beef. These factories value efficiency more than anything else. That employee could admit his mistake, shut down the (dis)assembly line and clean it all up…or he could do what his superiors want him to do, which is to keep quiet, let it go, and figure nobody will likely trace back the illnesses to that factory.) Now, under the law, Topps is under no obligation to do anything about that infection. Twenty five people are sick so far, but the government has no ability at force a recall. The powerful meatpacking industry has made sure that it’s simply not possible for the feds to make them do anything. Toy with lead paint? Recall. One hundred million beef patties? Nada.
The CEO of Topps Meat has no fear of a dozen law enforcement officers come to his home, handcuff him and wife, and haul them off for fingerprinting and photographing. Every last employee of the company is safe from criminal charges, no matter how many people die.
Yet two Nelson County farmers were arrested this week for using improper price tags on their pork.
What’s wrong with this picture?
I know a lot of Republicans aren’t Republicans anymore, especially here in Virginia, so I’ve got to call up how much I miss good old-fashioned Republicans. The kind who believed in small government. Republicans have had control of the General Assembly for nearly a decade. Why is it still a crime for farmers to farm? Why do I own share of a cow in the Shenandoah Valley in order to get a half gallon of unpasturized milk each week? If Republicans don’t support farmers’ freedoms to produce food and sell it, what freedoms do they support that Democrats don’t?
I try not to blog while angry. But it’s been two days since I first wrote about this over at cvillenews.com and I’m only getting madder. Here’s hoping some enterprising reporters will dig into this story, finding out how these anti-farming laws continue to exist and who in the General Assembly will work to repeal them.
Something’s got to change.