Small farms under threat from the FDA in “Farmageddon”

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Federal and state laws can create hurdles for small farmers, who face raids and arrests for such things as selling raw milk to customers. A new film, called Farmageddon, documents the struggles of independent farmers. Hundreds of people attended sold out screenings in Tampa.

Many viewers were shocked to find that all over the United States, federal food regulators are shutting down businesses, throwing fresh food in the garbage, and raiding families’ homes; all because of raw milk. The FDA says that raw milk can contain disease causing pathogens, and needs to be pasteurized for safety. Filmmaker Kristen Canty isn’t against government regulation, but she said when it comes to dairy, the FDA is simply corrupt.

In Florida, consumers can buy raw oysters, clams, and sushi, but not raw milk. Canty pointed out that people are also permitted to buy alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, but for some reason raw milk is singled out as a serious health hazard. She says that the FDA should put more trust in local communities.

Canty decided to make the film after stumbling across the website for the Virginia based. She became interested when she found out that they represent farmers who have been raided by the government. Pete Kennedy is an Attorney for Farm to Consumer, and said sometimes even state regulations can be just as tough.

The film focused mainly on farm shutdowns in states like Georgia and Maryland, but Florida dairies have also faced closure. Tampa raw milk producer Pam Lunn said she was almost shut down at the St. Pete Farmer’s market for selling raw milk, but Pete Kennedy helped save her business.

Lunn said her operation is small enough that it’s much easier for her to maintain quality control than with factory size operations.

And Kristen Canty said that factory farms and slaughterhouses don’t exactly have glass walls.

Pam Lunn makes several different dairy products ranging from raw milk, to yogurt and cheeses, but Florida law states that she can only sell her products if they are marketed as pet food.

A Brooksville company called Green Acre Organics will have to change its name since it opted not to be a certified organic grower. One employee, Gina Cavaliero, is more concerned that her innovations in farming may need different regulations altogether.

Despite problems that small farmers face, about a dozen organic growers gave away samples of their food, including raw dairy, without a hitch.

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