[Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund's] goal is to curb government's over regulation of small farmers, and to stop...arbitrary and capricious, vindictive and selective enforcement actions, once and for all. Our goal is FREEDOM and PEACE for our farmers and for the consumers with whom they deal directly.
Working together, we WILL succeed.
One of the best ways the Fund's legal expertise can be utilized is during a farm raid. If you find yourself at the farm gate facing an inspector who does not have a warrant, call a Fund lawyer to help walk you through the process.
You can call the Emergency Hot Line Directly, or call the office during regular business hours. The lawyer on call will be paged to call you back.
To help you remember the numbers, we send out a free magnet with your membership packet. Call us if you didn't get one or lost it.
Office: 1-703-208-FARM (3276)
If you aren't a member yet, consider joining now:
One Farmer's Story
One farmer member held off a state and federal inspector at his farm gate for over three hours. He knew his rights, and reminded the inspectors of them. They didn't have a warrant, they just wanted to look around. As a licensed pet milk provider, he would have allowed the state inspector access, but the state inspector was there because he thought the renewal had lapsed. The federal inspector was another matter. He was told that if he stepped one foot on the farm, he would be physically escorted off the farm, the sheriff would be called, and he would be arrested for trespassing. This story had a happy ending, they finally departed without looking around. It illustrates a couple key points about the strategies inspectors use.
Government regulators have a game plan, so it's best you know how they are trying to manipulate you into doing what they want.
- They travel in pairs, or droves. For protection, for witness and for intimidation. Make sure you have your support team (which can include clients/shareholders) present, observing and witnessing but not obstructing, hindering or thwarting the investigation.
- They show up unannounced. They use the element of surprise to catch the farmer unprepared, or at a time when the farmer is not around. Have your materials, camera, video camera, notepad, clipboard with questionnaire, phone numbers, portable or cell phone charged and easy to find. Train those who are on your farm in your absence how to act in your place. Also, have on hand, phone numbers of customers or shareholders that live nearby that could lend a hand.
- They are persistent. They will hope to wear down your resolve, encourage you to just "get it over with", or make an ominous threat to be back with a warrant if you don't. Resist. You have rights.
- They are often unkind. It's part of the job description we think. We've heard too many stories about rude government employees. Take names and take notes! After it's all over, call their supervisor, and their supervisor's supervisor with quotes.
If you have contacts with a newspaper or radio reporter, contact them and tell them you have a story for them. Publicize the event.
If you feel it is necessary, contact your state or federal (if a federal agent is involved) congressman or senator and tell them what happened. Your local representative may write a letter to the Department of Agriculture on your behalf and admonish the Department to cool its tactics.
Tools to Help
The best defense is a good offense, so we've prepared some materials for you to use.
Remember you aren't always on the farm! Share these materials and information with your family members, close customers, shareholders and farm workers. Put them in a place where everyone knows where to find them. Treat it like a Fire Drill. Knowing what your rights are in the situation can be very helpful, and make a big difference in the outcome.
Get a "Legal Notice - No Trespassing" Sign and post it on your farm entrance. Aluminum 12" x 18" sign available at AD Rite (248) 628-6652 approximately $20/each + shipping.
Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund's website has other helpful materials available on their website. Become a member here!
How to Survive a Government Raid on Your Farm
Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Posted Dec 9, 2008
Straight to the Source