FARMAGEDDON The unseen war on American family farms Tue, 04 Oct 2016 03:50:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Farmageddon Farmers Family Reunion Sat, 24 May 2014 13:30:40 +0000 We’ve stayed in touch with the farmers featured in Farmageddon.  Some have become very good friends – like family to us.  One of the farmers, Tim Wightman, now runs our new farm in New Hampshire.

Many fans of the film tell us these farmers feel like family to them, too.  People they came to know and care about.  Since we couldn’t arrange a family reunion, we decided to do a virtual homecoming – one family at a time.

The first family that appears in the film is Linda and Larry Faillace – Vermont sheep farmers who’s family farm, Three Shepherds Farm, was raided by 42 Federal Agents.

Linda w lamb

Linda Faillace holds a lamb as federal agents confiscate her herd.

Linda and Larry’s legal case with the USDA actually began prior to the raid.  The USDA met with the Faillaces and a team of scientists and researchers from both the US and Europe.  Larry has a PhD in animal physiology from Virginia Tech.  The experts presented comprehensive evidence to the USDA that there was no such thing as mad cow disease in sheep, no sheep had been put to death in Europe, and that every sheep in the Faillace herd was certified disease free.  The USDA officials nodded, then told the Faillaces that the Agency was under political pressure and therefore Linda and Larry had to surrender their animals.

Seeking relief through the courts, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted a hearing based on Larry and Linda’s assertion that USDA claims of disease were unsubstantiated. Without warning, seventeen days prior to the court hearing that would force the USDA to reveal their evidence, forty-two armed agents arrived at the Faillace family farm.  Holding the family at gunpoint, the agents seized the entire herd, and subsequently slaughtered every sheep.  The USDA further imposed a five-year quarantine on the farm – robbing the family of its ability to earn a living as farmers.

As part of their depositions during the Faillace’s lawsuit, USDA officials testified that there was, in fact, no evidence that the Faillace’s sheep were infected and, in fact, the USDA was aware that all tests were negative.

The Write Stuff

Mad-Sheep-Faillace-Linda-9781933392097Linda’s book, “Mad Sheep” tells the riveting story of the years her family was under siege by a corrupt government agency that falsified, withheld or destroyed evidence to courts and to Congress, and spent millions of dollars spying on her children!  Their tale is such a frightening and touching thriller that Linda adapted her book into a screenplay.  She just finished her final draft and is about to submit it to major movie studios for consideration as a feature film.


Smile and Say Cheese

Linda and Larry FAILLACE cheesemaking




For all their courage and determination, Linda and Larry don’t consider themselves movie stars or heroes.  “We’re cheesemakers,” Linda insists.  “Been making it and teaching it for eighteen years.”

The Faillace’s teach 30 to 35 classes every year.  Some of those classes are held on their farm in Vermont.  But they also bring their hands-on classes and workshops to locations across the country. “A growing number of people are becoming more interested in where their food comes from,” Linda says.  “They are fascinated to know what’s in their food, and how it’s made.”  So far, Linda and Larry have taught over 3,000 people the joy of making cheese.  Check out their website for a class near you.

The Faillace Family

frosted fern tileThe three Faillace children, Francis, Heather, and Jackie, are also featured in the film.  They’ve grown up a lot since then – and all have made their parents very proud.  Francis went on to do an internship at the Harvard Center for Human Rights.  An accomplished craftsman, he opened Vermont Construction and Paint.  Take a peek at his website to see his amazing work.

Heather, who helped to edit Linda’s book, is also a gifted artist.  This is one of her mosaic/tile pieces.  You can see more of her work at

Jackie is now married and has two beautiful children.  She has my dream job, managing the local Lake Champlain Chocolates store.

Heather’s artistry

“We Are Still Smiling.”

Linda and Larry survived what many people consider a nightmare.  Amazingly, they consider themselves lucky.  “We are always being contacted and approached by people who saw Farmageddon, read my book, or came across our story on the internet,” Linda nods.  “There are hundreds of farmers and ranchers – good, family people who are being driven out of business – whose lives have been thrown into turmoil by our government.  People whose stories are NOT being told.  That’s why I wrote the book and now the screenplay.  To help bring about positive change.”

Linda insists that harassment by the government has got to stop and that mid-level government bureaucrats must be held accountable for their actions and compelled to act based on facts instead of political agendas.  In spite of the fact that all the scientific evidence has concluded that mad cow does not exist in sheep, USDA regulations specifically prohibit importing sheep – due to the danger of mad cow disease.  However, it IS LEGAL to import cattle.

“We have to get these agencies back on track – back on their real mission: to help all farmers.  Not to hurt them,” Linda says hopefully.  “Wouldn’t it be great if we could restore our faith and trust in the U.S. Government.”Linda and Larry FAILLACE

Top Ten Raw Milk Quotes Sat, 17 May 2014 12:04:05 +0000 Check out this cool countdown giving the real dope on the dopey things government officials are saying about raw milk.

Kiss On the Beach

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Farmageddon is now available on Netflix! Wed, 05 Dec 2012 17:27:17 +0000 Farmageddon is now available on Netflix is the US, Canada, UK and the Nordics.


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Champlain College Thu, 01 Nov 2012 16:40:48 +0000 November 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm in Perry Hall

Rawsome Club Update Mon, 22 Oct 2012 17:25:26 +0000 The second to last raid in our  film Farmageddon occurred in Venice, CA, at a private food-buying club called Rawesome Foods.  Whenever I was lucky enough to be in the vicinity and able to visit this club, it was like being a kid in a candy store…or, well, a raw foods lover in a raw foods store?

I was able to buy raw dairy products such as grass fed yogurt, butter, cream, cheese and raw chocolate mousse!  (is that dairy?) Raw meat and homemade delicacies such as ceviche and marinated raw meat salads were also available, along with  salad dressings, pure olive and other freshly made oils, and a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and fermented drinks…all organic and raw.


This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it was pure bliss.  I was filming during one visit, and had the pleasure of having people come up to me to tell me their raw food healing stories.  I heard stories of MS, Parkinson’s, cancer, arthritis and other conditions completely disappearing on a raw foods diet.


Unfortunately, the FDA does not like stories of people being healed from food, and they don’t like raw foods in general.   In the case of Rawesome Foods, multiple agencies (both local and federal) raided it three times.  The last time, it was closed down.  One of the club’s many suppliers, Sharon Palmer, a farmer who had provided raw goat milk for a time; the manager, James Stewart; and a Weston Price Chapter leader, Victoria Bloch, who volunteered for Sharon at the farmer’s market, and who let people looking for raw foods know about the club, were all charged with multiple felonies.  There were no actual felonies in the case; however, all three were charged of conspiring together to commit misdemeanor level offenses, which magically turned the charges to felonies.


Thirteen months later, just before their preliminary hearing, Victoria Bloch and Sharon Palmer were both offered plea deals, which they accepted.  Victoria pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of selling unlabeled milk and accepted a 100.00 fine and two years’ summary probation.  Sharon Palmer pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of storing milk in unsanitary conditions, since the day she was raided, she was milking her goats to feed her livestock (Rawesome had picked up their milk up a day earlier).  She received a 1300.00 fine and 40 hours of community service, and three years’ summary probation.  Both Victoria and Sharon would have preferred to have taken this case to a jury trial. Unfortunately, neither had the money to cover the high cost of conducting a trial that would have lasted at least two weeks, perhaps more.  James is still in jail, as he was considered a flight risk, and is awaiting either trial or the opportunity to plead out of the case.


There is still a separate Ventura County case awaiting both James and Sharon. And there is a petition to set them free that was written by a Rawesome Foods club member.  I fear that the Rawesome community has been torn apart by these circumstances. No one ever became sick from foods they had gotten at Rawesome Foods.  Certainly, nobody ever complained about having access to some of the freshest, most delicious foods available.  And nobody ever complained about the fresh goat’s milk Sharon provided to the club, as well as to a few of her own farm’s CSA members. On the contrary, I met happy, vibrant, healthy people who enjoyed the foods they sourced from these two wonderful people.


If you would like to learn more or help in any way, please read and sign the petition.

Meadowsweet Farm Thu, 18 Oct 2012 17:54:50 +0000 I had an email exchange with Steve Smith, the farmer in upstate New York who was raided and shut down by New York Ag and Markets for his private buying club that provided popular milk, yogurt and cheese to many happy customers.  Steve and his wife Barbara are both well educated scientists who also speak of the benefits of raw dairy products.

Steve wrote to me to say that since the New York Supreme Court ruled that the Ag and Market Commissioner did have authority over their LLC, they dissolved the LLC and sold the herd to the former members of that LLC.  Currently, Steve and Barbara are under contract with the members of the herdshare to milk and maintain the herd for them.  They have had this herd share for two years now and they have a waitlist of people that would like to join the share.  Unfortunately it is very difficult to obtain raw milk so farms that supply it often have waiting lists of customers.  In New York it is legal to drink milk from your own cow and the members own the cows, so hopefully Ag and Markets will respect that and leave them alone from now on.

The demand for raw dairy products is not going to go away, so hopefully more farms and farmers like this will pop up!    We are thinking of the Smith family and their farm as the drought hit them hard and they had to sell off their beef herd in order to have enough hay to keep the dairy going through the winter.



Finding Common Ground Sat, 05 May 2012 00:41:27 +0000 Event brings together small farmers and farm-to-consumer advocates with California food-safety regulators

By Claire Hutkins Seda

Chaffin Family Orchard’s Chris Kerston and Butte County Public Health’s Environmental health director, Brad Banner , organized the recent Local Food Summit to bring the two traditionally feuding sides—food-safety regulators and small farmers and local foodies—together.“We’ve got to change the dialogue from ‘us versus them’ to ‘us,’” said Justin Malan, executive director of the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health. “We’re not going to point any more fingers. The only finger we’re going to point is at the solution.”

Malan was one of more than 50 environmental-health specialists from around California among a crowd of 200 at the Local Food Summit held on April 16 at Lundberg Family Farms’ headquarters in Richvale. The message he brought—to reach for collaboration—was a common thread among the presenters at the summit, which focused on local food production, distribution and regulation.

Self-proclaimed “lunatic farmer” Joel Salatin, famous for his long history of regulation-related woes at his Polyface Farms in Virginia, and author of books like Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, was brought in as the keynote speaker. (Salatin drew upward of 1,000 people during his appearance at Neighborhood Church that evening.)

The summit was organized by Brad Banner, director of the Butte County Public Health Department’s Environmental Health Division, with help from Oroville’s Chaffin Family Orchards. It had been declared long overdue by both sides in attendance—small-scale farmers and government agencies such as Environmental Health that are tasked to regulate them. The event also brought together representatives from at least 19 agriculture-related entities such as the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as local-food advocates, academics and farmers from 31 farms throughout California.

Bringing the feuding sides together is “unique,” offered Salatin, adding that there are very few similar attempts at dialogue happening elsewhere in the country.

Farmers selling food directly to theconsumer is “good for the environment, it’s good for health, it’s good for the economy,” said Chris Kerston, speaking ahead of the conference at Chaffin Family Orchards, where he farms. Yet small farmers feel they’ve been held back by regulations written for large, industrial-sized farm operations, Salatin said.

Salatin’s wide-ranging 21¼2-hour talk touched on everything from pot pies and chicken stock to Ben Franklin and the Old Testament. His speech covered the road Salatin has traveled at his own Virginia farm, dodging regulatory mines in hopes of getting his farm-fresh “beyond organic” food to the customers who demand it.

“Is this really about food safety, or is this really about who gets access to the market?” he loudly queried at one point, to applause from the farmers.

Salatin proposed alternatives to enable small-scale producers to avoid the onerous regulations with which they must currently comply—including a mechanism in which inspections would be triggered only by complaints that that the farm was out of compliance; exemptions for certain types of small farmers; and a waiver that could be signed between farmer and customer, making them just “two consenting adults,” as Salatin put it, thus putting the onus on consumers and farmers, rather than regulators, to assure food quality and safety.

Banner noted that Butte County Public Health’s Environmental Health Division —which also carries responsibility for wastewater, hazardous materials and even tattoo artists—has paid attention to a number of food-related issues in Northern California that hadn’t been issues just a few years ago.

“There was a food-swap issue”—an unregulated event in which people traded food—“in Nevada County… Then there was that chicken thing in Lassen County,” recalled Banner, referring to a small family chicken operation that wanted to sell at a farmers’ market and received federal exemption from oversight due to its small size. Lassen County’s environmental-health department halted sales, saying it ran against state health-department guidelines, which were themselves at odds with a state law that would permit such a sale, according to the Lassen County Times.

“And there was an issue in El Dorado County where people wanted a law that would pre-empt state regulation,” said Banner, referring to the Food Sovereignty law that county supervisors considered at their January meeting—similar to laws in the works or in effect in Maine, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont—that would exempt local small farmers from government regulations entirely.

Regulators, said Malan, “have recognized that one size doesn’t fit all,” when it comes to regulation. California’s Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, which would allow the sale of homemade goods like breads and jams, was referenced several times as evidence that the government by and large is active in supporting local food. Banner, for Butte County, has instituted a number of changes including cutting fees across the board, and streamlining permit processes for businesses like food trucks and event food vendors, to reduce the burden on small farmers and small food businesses.

Several of the 20 presenters pointed to the direct farm-to-consumer model as a way to help combat the country’s rise in diabetes and obesity by ensuring a supply of fresh, healthful food, as well as to increase food security, a worry expressed by farmers and government officials alike.

Many farmers in attendance, such as raw-milk advocate Mark McAfee, founder of Organic Pastures Dairy, were pleasantly surprised at the holistic, positive views many of the regulators held toward the still-nascent local-food movement. McAfee has had his fair share of interaction with regulators about his raw milk, which is shipped all over California from his dairy in Fresno, and is available locally at Chico Natural Foods.

His dairy’s milk production was briefly halted last year after five children fell ill with E. coli and regulators connected the outbreak with Organic Pastures raw milk. Despite such struggles (“I’m completely unconvinced that it’s our milk,” said McAfee), he has found regulators in the past year to be more accepting of the need for consumer choice on such matters as raw milk.

“There has been an evolution. They’re acknowledging the emergence of a local market, and the nutritional differences [in local food],” said McAfee, adding that, although few regulators are vocalizing it directly, “they’re saying, yes, there is a connection between food and health.”

MSNBC interviews Kristin Canty Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:44:04 +0000

Reason TV interviews Kristin Canty Wed, 29 Jun 2011 14:50:49 +0000

Kristin Canty – the Beginning of Her Real Food Movement Mon, 29 Nov 2010 15:52:16 +0000 Kelly the Kitchen Kop, interviews Kristin Canty for her Healthy Cooking Blog:  Kristin Canty – the Beginning of Her Real Food Movement.  Click here to read the post.