Virginia Amish Farmer’s Livelihood Crushed by Government Overreach

The Fisher family farm in Virginia, a beacon of sustainable farming and a source of nourishment for local consumers, was subjected to an unanticipated raid by the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS).

Samuel B. Fisher, who operates Golden Valley Farms, found himself embroiled in a legal battle that resulted in the loss of his livestock and meat-processing facility, as the state condemned and seized his property.

The saga began on June 14 when a VDACS inspector made an unexpected visit to Fisher’s 100-acre farm. Fisher was left bewildered by the sudden inspection, which was followed by a search warrant.

The following day, officials returned with a sheriff’s deputy to conduct a thorough search of the farm. Fisher’s meat was tagged under “administrative detention,” leaving him unable to sell or even consume his produce. He estimates about $10,000 worth of products were seized and discarded.

Fisher’s crime? Selling meat that was not processed by a USDA-inspected facility.

Instead, he chose to butcher his farm-raised meat on-site and sell it directly to his customers, feeding about 500 consumers and their families, who are part of a buying club.

As members enrolled in the Golden Valley Farms membership program, they’ve bought into Fisher’s herd of 100% grass-fed golden Guernsey cows.

In July, the Commonwealth of Virginia took Fisher to court, resulting in a judge-authorized seizure of his meat products, a move that Fisher described as an immediate blow to his income.

On August 3, Fisher was criminally charged and found guilty of “unlawfully possessing, selling, and/or transporting animals,” a Class 3 misdemeanor, and ordered to pay a fine.

Mindy Hartbecke, the farm’s office manager, pointed out the irony. “Amish people. They don’t follow the rules. That’s the point.”

“So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to somebody that an Amish person is not following the rules. They opt out of everything. They don’t send their kids to school. They don’t have to be involved in the [military] draft.”

“They don’t pay into the Social Security system and they don’t receive money from the Social Security system. Why would anybody think it’d be a stretch that he wasn’t getting his meat inspected by the government, too?”

Supporters of Fisher argue consumers should have the right to decide where their meat comes from. They stress that traditional, small-scale farming practices are not just a way of life, but also a form of resistance against industrial food systems known for their questionable health impacts.

As Fisher considers his next steps, which could include legal appeals, one thing is clear: this incident ignited a broader debate about government overreach and interference, the rights of small farmers, and the choices consumers should be allowed to make about their food.

This article appeared in TheDailyBeat and has been published here with permission.

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Written by Western Reader

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