One Farmer’s Unintended Fight for Food Freedom
The Early Years…
Almost twenty years ago, when we were first married, Gary and I began discussing a vision that God placed on both of our hearts to someday have a farm that would also be a refuge for those that came across our pathway. Like most newlyweds, this dream was shared and then put up on the shelf with all of the other things we would like to do before that day arrives when we contentedly sit on our front porch, rocking in rocking chairs and reminiscing of the days when our children were young.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Gary accepted a severance package from Delta Airlines, where he had been employed, and prayerfully stepped out in faith to return to his family’s history in farming. We had already begun a small hobby farm to support our own family’s choice of eating dairy and meat products that were not tainted by steroids, production hormones, or antibiotics. Why did we feel that our food choices were so important to drive us to growing our own food? My mother died at the young age of 39 after an eight year battle with cancer. Hours and hours of research revealed to us that the high levels of hormones and steroids that were being introduced into animals were a strong possible cause for the types of cancer that my mother died of. She was the third generation of women in her family to die of cancer, with each death occurring at a younger age. This personal experience with cancer as well as my experience in working professionally with an oncology practice led us to take our farm to the next level. That next level was in making food from our farm available to other families that shared a similar concern. Our passion was to do this in as affordable a manner as possible so that the average family could make the same choices we were making.
We quickly discovered that the vision that was laid on our hearts was close to the hearts of many others. Our farm grew at an astounding rate. Our primary form of farming at the time was in natural dairy. Many families shared with us their personal stories and convictions of why raw milk was an important part of their family’s food choices. More information can be found about the benefits of natural dairy at the Weston A. Price Foundation. We became aware of the State of Kentucky Statutes related to Raw Milk and created a cowshare program which met all of the guidelines as outlined by the statutes.
The Infamous Day When Our Lives Would Never Be the Same
On April 6, 2006, our family’s life was changed forever. That day began like all other days. I was preparing our children for school and Gary was leaving to make deliveries of milk to our cowshare owners as outlined in our private contracts with them. We had no idea that our lives would enter the surreal that day. At approximately 12:30 that afternoon, Gary was the target of a sting operation coordinated by two different states and the federal government and assisted by the local police department. The contents of his truck were confiscated by government agents rather than going to the law abiding citizens that were there that day to pick up their personal property. He was then escorted through four different government vehicles where he was interrogated, encouraged to sign statements that he did not write, and eventually pushed to the point of collapse on the pavement where he was transported from by the local ambulance service to the hospital. He was to experience four more hospitalizations for stress related medical issues in the next three months.
Immediately following that day and for almost each day over the next nine months, I spent hours preparing our legal defense with our attorney while balancing the care of my husband and four small children. The owners from our cowshare program came forward to assist in milking the cows, completing paperwork, submitting notarized affidavits, and even bringing our family meals. Why did they do this? They did this because we had a very personal relationship with them. The kind of relationship that should exist between families and their local farmers that provide the food for their families. But their drive to help went beyond this. They were driven by their outrage that a drug-bust style raid would be conducted against a farmer for supplying common law abiding citizens with food. They were driven by their realization that their rights were being taken away as they stood silently in the wings. They were no longer able to stand silently by.
The full effects of April 6, 2006 would not be realized by our family for several years. It was determined by the Governor of our State that the operation of our cowshare program was based strongly in the statutes as they were currently defined and that the State had no basis for further investigation of our farm. This validation was affirming, but did not erase the events of that period in our family’s life. Our children no longer felt safe. In school, they were being taught that the government was there to protect them, while real life revealed to them a daddy that was very ill because of the way that same government had treated him.
In spite of the State’s dismissal of all charges, our family was left holding extensive legal and medical bills. These exorbitant expenses, combined with the devastating declines in the real estate market during that time, materialized in our family losing our home and all that we had. The charges were dismissed, but the nightmare continued on in our daily lives.
Our Fight Continues into The Future
Our family temporarily relocated our farm in 2008, but subsequently made a move to a more permanent location this past year. We give glory to God for His provision in allowing us to purchase a home with seven acres of land for our family. There are an additional 55 acres of land that are currently being leased for the continuance of the cowshare program. Our lease will terminate in August 2013, at which time the farm will either be financially prepared to purchase the land or the farm will come to an end. Our family has invested everything into our farming efforts, not just to try to maintain a lifestyle for our family, but to stand for the right of Americans to enter into private contracts with local farmers to supply them with food. This is a right that was intended by the Constitution that is rapidly being taken away in small bite-size pieces each day in a similar way as our right to choose the best educational system for our children, parental rights in general, and every American’s right to choose their own preferred form of health care. Many people have asked us why we keep doing what we do? Our intention was never to gain notoriety or attention. We simply wanted to provide wholesome food that we chose for our family to others. However, when it became apparent that the very right to choose was in jeopardy, we could no longer sit by and say nothing. The fight continues in the legislatures of each state. The fight continues for our family even with the awareness that it could still cause us to lose everything once again.
For more information on our case, we suggest you read a copy of Dave Gumpert’s book, Raw Milk Revolution.
For additional information on the reality of the hostile environment between government agencies and common citizens, I would encourage you to read Senator Rand Paul’s latest book, Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds.
If you wish to help in the Fight for Food Freedom, you can do so in two ways:
- Support the work of The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which provides free legal counsel and representation to farmers and the consumers that support them when governmental agencies put them under attack.
- Consider making a donation to our fund by using the button at the right to help us purchase our farm and continue fighting for Food Freedom. Your assistance helps family farms to continue into the next generation.
We ask for your prayers that as we share our story, God’s hand of protection will remain on us. This battle could eventually mean not only our livelihood, but also my husband’s life due to the overwhelming damage that the stress takes on his physical health. We are not naive to the fact that the mere posting of this information could bring about another set of abusive actions. It is a battle that we have been called to, one of not our own choosing. We ask that you stand with us in fighting for what used to be considered the very fabric of our society. If we are unable to raise the necessary funds by August 2013, we know that God will provide for our family in another way, for He even provides for the sparrow of the air and the lily of the valley. However, it will mean the end to yet another small family farm that speaks America to so many.
We pray that our farm will someday become a refuge once again, rather than a political battle ground. We still dream of those rocking chairs on the porch with grandchildren running in the yard while visitors enjoy the beauty of “getting out into the country.” Whatever may happen, we pray that God will bless you as you honor Him!!