Montana Jones and sheep

Family farms under attack! Sadly, this is a scenario we’ve become all too familiar with: armed raids on farms and long, drawn out court cases that threaten to bankrupt farmers. These 4 cases are each pivotal in setting precedent. The outcome in each of these will dramatically alter the reality facing, not just the farmers involved, but the rest of the farmers here and in Canada. These are test cases. It is time to get behind our farmers in every way we can and support them so we can all benefit from a better outcome. It is time for the enforcers to simply say “no” to further enforcement in these and similar cases. Our job is to support that mindset as well as take direct action to save our farms.

Why does any of this matter? Because we care about our food and this directly affects our food choices. Read about these cases and take action!

1. Montana Jones–Montana is a shepherdess in Canada who had her entire herd of beautiful heritage breed Shropshire sheep slaughtered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)–they are like our FDA–because of the possibility that the sheep had scrapie. The CFIA slaughtered the sheep without allowing Montana to actually test the animals for the disease.

After the kill order was  issued but before the CFIA could kill them, the Farmers Peace Corps intervened, taking the sheep into “protective custody” until a humane solution could be found. The CFIA went to every extent they could to find the sheep, which were found a couple months later, and immediately slaughtered. Because of the attempt to find a peaceful solution, Montana and several other farmers were charged with conspiracy, in addition to other charges, and they are facing trial. The trauma that Montana has gone through is similar to that of anyone who has suffered extreme abuse. Her story is intense, her telling of it is powerful! You can donate to her here. It is time to profess solidarity with her. She provides regular updates on her Facebook page.

Mark and piglets2. Mark Baker–Many people here are familiar with the story of Mark Baker and his Mangalitsa pigs. This is a similar case to that of Montana Jones in that they were both raising a heritage breed of animal, preserving genetics and they were both ordered to kill all their animals. Recent updates to his case mean that Mark and his family will be in court March 11-14 for his trial where the state of Michigan will have to clarify the declaratory ruling. This case will set precedent throughout the country on whether rogue bureaucrats can create arbitrary rules based on “input” from the pork industry. Many other farmers in Michigan slaughtered their herds when the rule came out. Mark sued the state for clarification on the rules. The state has currently threatened to fine Mark $10,000 for every pig they know about. His supporters are helping him raise funds to stay on the farm until this is resolved and he can continue farming in peace. (Click here to donate to the Baker’s)

3. Michael Schmidt–Michael is the Canadian dairy farmer who provides raw milk to his neighbors through cow shares even though the raw milk prohibition in Canada is far worse than it is in any state here. He is in court on February 5 on an appeal of this years-long saga. For a history of Michael Schmidt’s case, that’s been in the works for 30 years, here is an old write-up that covers most of his story until 2001. Michael needs supporters to show up in court. See full article here for times and location.

4. Frank Myers–Frank is an 85 year-old Canadian farmer living on his family’s land. His land is near an active military base and the Canadian government ordered that his land be reappropriated for use as a military training facility. (Because that is just what this world needs right now, one less farm and one more violence training center….). The family’s supporters have declared an “occupation” of the farm and are camping out 24/7 on the farm to prevent the government from destroying the barns and other farm buildings. The good news is, for now, it is working. So far, they have successfully prevented the government from seizing the land and destroying the property. But how long will this last? The best way to connect with other supporters, and the Myers’ family, is through the Facebook page. There is a group there every day around the fire. Frank talks to anyone who drops by. The address is 209 Meyers Creek Road, Trenton Ontario.

These gentle farmers’ entire lives are hanging in the balance, the stresses of daily life affecting their health. They do not know when will be the next attack, the next court hearing, the next trial. Some of them have lost everything and still have to face the courts. Imagine being in this situation and having people in court, standing beside you, with you, behind you in support. Financial contributions are so much more than just money. It is an endorsement of the farmers continued stand for peaceful farming and food choice! Each of us has the power to help transform these cases from defeat into victory by coming together in support of those who have everything on the line or those who have already lost everything. It is time to act.

Liz Reitzig

Food is the Foundation of Liberty. Nourishing Liberty is where we plant seeds for ideas to grow and flourish A place to be inspired by each other, to join together in peaceful activism, to build community.

Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.

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