Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Time is Now

By Bernadette Barber4982722491_7342befb96_z

The time is now.

Thanks for sticking with me on this, we have made great progress.

The Virginia Food Freedom Act, hb 1290  and the “Three Cow Exemption” ( raw milk bill) hb 1461 will be heard in the House of Delegates Agriculture Subcommittee on,

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND,   4:00 PM IN THE WEST CONFERENCE ROOM ON THE 7TH FLOOR OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BUILDING.

Please call and /or write  the members of the Agriculture Subcommittee today and Monday. Alert the media in your area of this meeting and bring them along.

The following subcommittee members need to be contacted to let them be reminded of your support on these two very important pieces of legislation.  These delegates  need to vote yes on this bill.  Your encouragement will help.  All of them are your representatives on Agriculture issues, it does not matter if you are not in their district.  They represent you  on matters of food and farming.

Chairman Del. Danny Marshall, (R) District 14 804-698-1014 DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov

Del. Bobby Orrock( R) District 54 804-698-1054  DelBOrrock@house.virginia.gov

Del. Charles Poindexter ( R) District 09 804-698-1009 DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov

Del. Barry Knight  (R) District 81 804-698-1081  DelBKnight@house.virginia.gov

Del. Will Morefield (R ) District 3 804-698-1003  DelJMorefield@house.virginia.gov

Del. Matthew James (D) District 80 804-6981080  DelMJames@house.virginia.gov

Del. Mark Keam (D) District 35 804-698-1035 DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov

Thank you for all your help, you are making a difference!!

Please join us on Monday, February 2nd  4 p.m.  at the General Assembly Building,  7th floor West Conference room.  Show your support,   Be heard!

Real change happens when everyday people like you and I take a stand for what we believe in.

Thank you for standing with me on this issue.


Bernadette Barber and her husband Gary own and operate Tall Trees Farm in the Northern Neck. They view themselves as stewards of God’s green earth and conduct their farm in that light. Following the design of creation their cattle graze in lush verdant pastures; their hogs roam freely in the woods; their chickens and turkeys chase bugs and aerate the soil. She picked up her love for farming from her father who beat leukemia with an organic garden.

I Ain’t Buying It.

Matthew French
On Monday the Privileges and Elections subcommittee heard for the fist time the proposed constitutional amendment called the “Right to Acquire” Amendment. If adopted it would give you the consumer the right to acquire the foods of your choice, with an emphasis on choice. The point of this hearing was to discuss the merits of the proposal.
It was standing room only.
The same old tired faces showed up to oppose the amendment: Farm Bureau, Virginia Agribusiness Counsel, Virginia Dairyman’s Association et. al. And they brought with them the same old worn out lines: we will lose our USDA standing, people will be dying in the streets, agriculture is our biggest export – we can’t risk losing that, panic, mayhem, anarchy!
Well, at least a few of the delegates in the room have a level head. Del. David Ramadan told the lobbyist, “I ain’t buying it.” You can watch the whole video below to hear his full comments.
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Facebook Video


Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200-year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com

LIVE, Food In the Lobby Day – Richmond, Va

By Matthew French
Once a year, Richmond is flooded with the baser sort. No, I’m not talking about theFood Freedom Logo return of our delegates for the first day of the legislative session, I’m talking about Lobby Day.
True, we are here to lobby for a bill, at least the Food Freedom Act won’t cost the taxpayer anything and won’t rob you of any freedoms.
I will be updating this post throughout the day for those who could not make it but would like to be kept in the know. I will add a timestamp so you can keep up with the latest.
You can also follow the hashtag #foodinthelobby on Twitter for
the latest.

3:30 pm – Meeting with Del. Pillion went well. He confirmed his support for HB 1290.


3:00 pm – We are trying to confirm that HB1290 will skip to full committee.


1:30 pm – Del. Will Morefield has committed to co-patronage of the Food Freedom Act.


10:00 am– The subcommittee meeting hearing the merits of HJ519 is over. Farm Bureau, Virginia Dairyman’s Association, and Virginia Agribusiness Counsel spoke in opposition to the amendment. The industrial Ag groups used the same old worn out lines. The highlight came towards the end when Rep. David Ramadan said, “I ain’t buying it. I grew up on raw milk.” We have a video we will share soon.

Update: You can see the video of Del. David Ramadan here.


8:30 am – Subcommittee meeting on hj519 constitutional amendment “Right to Aquire Food” is getting under way.


Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200-year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com

Farm Bureau Is Bad People

By Matthew French
Likely in life you have met a person who, at first, seemed to be a great individual. You hung out with them, you had them over to dinner, you even took in a baseball game together. When times got tough for them you helped them out a little. But the more you were around them something nagged at you. Somewhere in the back of your mind you knew something wasn’t right. Over time, it was becoming clear that they weren’t, as we say, good people.

As I get older, and I hope a little wiser, I like to think I’m getting better at spotting the bad eggs of this world earlier. It’s not easy though, and I still sometimes need the help of another pair of eyes. Someone who has seen the not so pretty side of

How Farm Bureau works

How Farm Bureau works

someone.

Farm Bureau is one of those bad eggs. Growing up in an agricultural community Farm Bureau is part of it through and through. Every month a bill comes from them. Every month a magazine shows up in the mailbox. Every year you attend the annual banquet. It becomes ingrained in you that Farm Bureau is on the side of small farmers, just like us, all across the state.
But Farm Bureau is anything but for the small farmer and definitely not on the side of the consumer. They have stood in the way of many different bills that would have made it easier for farmers to do business. For a long time, they stood in the way of the Boneta Bill which protected farmers property rights.
No, Farm Bureau is not a friend of the small direct to consumer farm.
Lately, their target has been the Virginia Food Freedom Act. Last year they actively lobbied against the bill. On the day of the vote in the subcommittee, they stood with the delegation of opposition. Yes, they stood with those opposed to farmers being able to produce and sell more food to their customers.
One of those that spoke in opposition said that if that bill had passed that farmers would be slaughtering their cattle on the side of the road, hanging them from front loaders, and selling the cuts to people as they passed by. Farm Bureau aligned themselves with people who believe that farmers are so stupid that they don’t even understand basic food safety and that consumers are so stupid that they would buy from stupid farmers.
That’s right, Farm Bureau thinks farmers are stupid. Some friend, right?
But hold on it gets better. Last year my father attended the annual Farm Bureau Banquet. After all the cursory “look at how great Farm Bureau is” speeches and bragging about the legislation that they helped pass (one of which was the Boneta Bill), my father cornered the state Farm Bureau representative and asked him a few questions. One of the questions he asked was how come Farm Bureau was not supporting the Virginia Food Freedom Act. Would you believe he told my dad they were supporting it!
This was news to us. They have been one of our biggest detractors. Earlier last year they basically walked out of the Food Freedom Taskforce meetings without even making an offer. So now they are for the bill?
After many, many, phone calls, we were informed that the representative had misspoken. I personally believe this was a continuation of the deception they spin that they are for the small farmer.
If you are a member you had better be a good little submissive one. Don’t fall too far out of lock step or you may find yourself looking for insurance. I have heard several stories from across the state of farmers losing their insurance for asking questions at Farm Bureau meetings. And other stories of farmers losing their coverage for selling direct to consumers after years of coverage through Farm Bureau (Half way down the post is where they mention losing coverage https://www.facebook.com/InTheoryFarm/posts/894904803871699 ).
It took me some time, but I realized that Farm Bureau was not my friend. They are not on my side. No, my friends, Farm Bureau is not on the side of small farmers.
They are bad people.

Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200-year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com

Liberty Is Risky

Liberty is risky.  When you let people make their own decisions and self-determine what they eat, decisions can be quite subjective.  You even risk making bad decisions or allowing scofflaws to sell snake oil.
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But is the answer government oversight on every decision?  Does regulating every morsel of food insure its safety? Certainly not, as the number of food-borne illnesses and recalls attest. The truth is that a perfect system does not exist. Offering more freedom is risky, but so is complete governmental control. Government experts marched together telling the populace to eat trans-fats and carbs. The official USDA food pyramid probably did more to destroy America’s health than any other single official act.
Subjecting all food to bureaucratic intervention between producer and buyer simply insures that all food must please bureaucrats. That’s an important reality. Government regulators are subject to the same nature as anyone else. Politics, power, and prestige afflict all people, regardless of where they work.
Pleasing bureaucrats requires pleasing cultural orthodoxy. What happens when the orthodoxy is wrong?  The heretics are burned at the stake nonetheless. Today, many of us dare to question the orthodoxy du jour.
Here is a sampling of today’s orthodoxy:
1.  Chemicals are safe; compost is unsafe.
2.  Mono-speciation is safe; multi-speciation is unsafe.
3.  Sterile is safe; biologically active is unsafe.
4.  People should not visit farms; people bring diseases.
5.  My body belongs to the state; self-determination is unsafe.
6.  People can’t be trusted;  people in government can be trusted.
7.  Local food can’t feed the world; we need concentrated animal feeding operations.
8.  Sick animals are merely pharmaceutically disadvantaged;  the terrain theory is nuts.
9.  Food should be cheap; expensive food is elitist.
10.  People are too stupid to make food decisions; bureaucrats must make all food decisions.
On it goes, but you see the drift. The orthodoxy is palpable and clear. But what do you do with nonconformists? Do you burn them at the stake? Or is it not indicative of a liberty-oriented, person-respecting, diversity-loving culture to let the heretics practice on themselves, to innovate?
Those who suggest that allowing food to be grown and sold without governmental intervention
will plague society with poor food and sick people have no basis for the assertion.  Today, those of us who want to produce for our neighborhoods do so with a plethora of knowledge and infrastructure unavailable to our ancestors. Microscopes, stainless steel, indoor plumbing, on-demand hot water, soap, and refrigeration were science fiction in our great-grandparents’ days.
The Virginia Farm Food Freedom Act, known as HB1290, leverages this knowledge and savvy to a futuristic place of innovative food. Rather than being stuck in outdated orthodoxy, freeing food and farm entrepreneurs to access their neighbors with heresy food like raw milk, home-made beef stew, and microwavable shepherd’s pie identifies Virginia as a place that embraces liberty and the future.
The future is always scary. Would you rather go there with several heretics, or securely wrapped
in the protection of today’s orthodoxy? Many of us would choose the heretics, knowing from history that these folks understand thought and practice freedom. When you’re facing uncertain times, you usually want someone willing to think creatively, not someone stuck on forms, licenses, and an archaic orthodoxy.
So let’s join hands and push the Food Farm Freedom Act forward in the upcoming General Assembly. Let’s dare to dream about a food system that embraces innovation.  Today’s orthodoxy will give us more of the same: cancer, Type II diabetes, obesity, autism, and food allergies.  How about something different? Your heretic farmers who fertilize with compost, make cheese in their kitchens, and build immune systems rather than using drugs are ready to take us into tomorrow’s solutions. Get on the freedom train.

Joel Salatin is a Farmer, Author, and a Local Foods Advocate. He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. You can learn more about him and his farm on their website: www.polyfacefarms.com