Joel Salatin Free to Enjoy the Fruits of His Labor
As America's love affair with delicious, nutritious local foods grows, it appears that there is a corresponding increase in government repression of the small farmers raising or growing that food.
When, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Inc. fame, and arguably America's favorite farmer, runs into troubles, we know, as a nation of eaters, we have too.
In observance of Labor Day 2010, I suggest that farmers ought to be free to enjoy the fruits of their labors - healthy profit - without undue hindrance from regulators and their ilk. This story, told in Joel's own words, illustrates just how helpful the Fund was toward that end.
Before the Labor Day weekend, Joel got a call from one of the local upscale restaurants he supplies with eggs and he wrote the Fund.
From Joel Salatin - September 2, 2010
"One of our restaurants got written up by the city health inspector for a critical violation: using eggs from an unapproved source. The chef called me to give me the particulars.
I can't even put into words--and that's going some for me--what it means to be able to calmly take down the information and then say: "I'll call FTCLDF and have our attorney deal with it."
Even as it was, I was shaking when I hung up the phone. Obviously, if our eggs are unapproved for that restaurant, they are unapproved for ALL restaurants."
This is not the first time (see the sidebar story) the Fund has stepped in to help member Salatin, or other farmers. This Swarms of Officers relates just how hard it is for some farmers to get their eggs to market.
Joel's story had a happy ending. One call from the Fund attorney sorted out and settled the matter.
From Pete Kennedy, Esq., President, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund - September 3, 2010
"I spoke with the health department this morning. You can keep on selling to restaurants in Charlottesville. I told her that the eggs from your farm easily exceeded the USDA Grade B tolerances and she agreed.
It's possible that the City of Charlottesville might be establishing some kind of verification procedure for egg quality. She said that she would let me know if they did but for now they have not changed anything; so, you can keep on doing what you're doing."
The timing on this is remarkable, the Fund will be at Polyface Farm next Saturday, September 11, 2010 for their annual Benefactor Event including a 2 1/2 hour tour with Joel and lunch with the Salatin family. There are a few more seats available on the tractor drawn hay ride and lunch, if you want to celebrate the Fund and Joel. Why not come and celebrate this farmer, this food movement and this Fund?
The relief we hear in farmer's voices gives us great job satisfaction. We wish all our consumer members could hear it. Joel's appreciation frankly bowled us over at the Fund, but, even more remarkably - Joel sent us this message BEFORE the happy resolution.
From Joel Salatin - September 2, 2010
"So, in gratitude to you and FTCLDF, I'm letting you know right now to forget about the $1,000 Joel tour rate. I'm giving the fundraiser tour gratis. I wish I could give you $100,000. And maybe I can one day.
The point is that as the pushback strengthens, FTCLDF gives farmers like me some breathing room. And that value is incalculable. EVERY SINGLE farmer who direct markets should be a member of FTCLDF."
The only thing we'd add to this wonderful recommendation, is....where would we be without our farmers?
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund supports farmers and the growing community that seeks to expand access to raw milk and other quality nutrient dense foods from America's small farms.
Read more government harassment stories Swarms of Officers or Learn More - Farm Raids.
How the Fund Helped Joel
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) does more than simply litigate cases involving raw milk. For example, the Fund has assisted nationally recognized farmer, Joel Salatin of Polyface farm, in his struggles against the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). In early 2008, Joel's chicken was being offered at a local restaurant and the restaurant marketed the chicken as "beyond organic." The USDA's NOP sent a warning letter to Joel stating that the use of the term "organic" was regulated and that because Joel's farm was not "certified organic" he could not advertise his chickens as being "beyond organic." Joel solicited the assistance of FTCLDF who wrote the NOP a letter on Joel's behalf (read Feb. 27, 2008 letter).
In its letter, the Fund set straight NOP's misunderstanding. To begin, the Fund clarified that it was not Joel or his farm that hung the sign at the restaurant. Also, the Fund made clear that even though Joel used the term "beyond organic" on his website, such use was not prohibited by the NOP. The Fund explained that "certified organic" cannot be used on a product unless the producer was certified by an accredited certifying agent, and that the "certified organic" prohibition did not apply to marketing or advertising. Finally, the Fund advised that if the NOP wished for Joel to remove "beyond organic" from his website he would be glad to do so, yet he would also explain in his own words how his agricultural processes do indeed exceed the certified organic standards.
The only response the Fund received to its letter was basically, "we'll get back to you" (read Mar. 4, 2008 letter). The NOP has still not presented any other response to the Fund's letter. The FTCLDF considers this matter as closed.