As most of you know our first product we launched this year as Goshen Homestead was our herdshare program. Herdshare programs are basically cow boarding contracts which allow people who otherwise dont have the ability, or land to take ownership of cows and benefit from them in the ways they themselves see fit. In VA it is illegal to sell raw milk. It is not illegal however for people to drink raw milk from their own cow. It has been Richmond’s policy to not interfere with the private contractual relationship of herdshare programs and over the last few years hundreds of herdshare programs have popped up over the state with no interference.
Apparently it does not seem to be the policy of the Washington Counties Ag advisory committee to not interfere with us small farmers regarding herdshares, and sadly it seems fresh chickens and fresh eggs at market might also be on their chopping block.
This Tuesday, November 10th at 6:30pm the Washington County Ag Advisory Committee, backed by 23 major national and state lobbying groups, will be giving a presentation to the Washington County Board of Supervisors on the dangers of raw milk and uninspected meats. In the agenda it seems the presentation is only about raw milk, but with the including of uninspected meats and the full strength of the Big Ag Lobby being represented, it is concerning that through the misinformation on raw milk they are bringing to Board they are aiming to have the Board of Supervisors make a broad move that could take away a huge portion of the products that help make the Abingdon Farmers Market one of the best and diversified markets in the state.
The agenda item does not reveal what their full intent is, and while it seems they could be initiating the process to get an ordinance in motion, they most certainly could have the Board pass a resolution is support of not allowing these food choices to be available to us. This could be equally as bad for us.
While a resolution is not a law, it would give the Big Ag Lobby the momentum it needs to go county to county to get the support to force Richmond to take action. For the past 2 years I have gone to Richmond multiple times and given testimony 2 years in a row to the State Agricultural Sub-Committee regarding and in support of the freedoms of food choice and free market access. I have seen all of the players of the Big Ag lobby working our representatives to prevent us every step of the way. Their mission I am concerned is to drive consumers only through the grocery stores for our food choice and make it virtually impossible for small farmers to have financial viability to sustain themselves. Since I have seen them also have no success in Richmond in getting our products like Herdshares, poultry and eggs removed from the market place, I am concerned that if they get their momentum here they will undoubtedly plow this all the way to Richmond and force our state representatives to respond to their force.
We have given the last 8 years in time, sweat, and money to the building of our small farm operation which against all odds and burdensome barriers we are finally able to do. For us any upset in the balance of the law right now would wipe out all we have accomplished and make it that much harder for us and any other family who wishes to grow themselves a farm or you may already be engaging with at market to continue doing so.
For us it is a must to oppose this threat. I will be at the Board of Supervisors meeting Nov. 10th at 6:30pm to express my concerns of this matter. There are many farmers and customers from the market already going to be in attendance and and I hope we can have your support in stopping any action that might be made during this presentation. Whether you can attend and give public comment voicing your concerns and support for us small farmers, just show up and offer us power in numbers, take some time to call your supervisors on the Board and tell them to support local farmers and our farmers market regarding the presentation being made tomorrow night, or share the action alert on your social media outlets we have already shared, it would be the most humbling and entirely supportive in the cry of our cause. I thank you in advance for any support you can give.
Here is a link to the BOS site:
Here is our Action Alert for you to share
Thank you all so much for a successful year at market and we hope to join you all again next year for another great year at the Abingdon Farmers Market!