American Farm :: The New Jersey Farmer
Fund’s goal allows direct purchases from farms
By JOSEPH HECKMAN Ph.D.
BRANDYWINE, Md. — People from as far away as California came to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). The celebration was held on a day of sweltering heat at the P.A. Bowen Farmstead, which is operated by Sally Fallon Morell and Geoffrey Morell as a pastured-based dairy.
The FTCLDF was founded on July 4, 2007. Its core mission is to protect the constitutional rights of people to obtain foods of their choice directly from family farms. A major focus of the organization is support for direct farm-to-consumer distribution of raw dairy from grass-based farming systems.
The enthusiasm for this mission has only increased since the inaugural event attracted hundreds of people to a pasture-based mixed livestock operation in Lancaster County, Pa., five years ago. Besides raw dairy, the program works to protect small farms and local meat, egg, and vegetable producers from unnecessary and burdensome regulations. Members of the FTCLDF are offered legal advice, for example, on how to set up a dairy herd share. In some cases, FTCLDF provides legal representation. The organization also publishes educational materials relating to the safe production of raw milk.
Sally Fallon Morell is president of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), a nutrition education foundation. The WAPF teaches people how to prepare and eat nutrient-dense whole foods. The impact of that organization has been to greatly increase demand for special foods like grass-fed raw milk. The FTCLDF was a necessary offshoot of this parent organization as it became exceedingly difficult to procure these special artisan foods. Interestingly, as a result of the educational efforts of Sally Fallon Morell and the publication of her bestselling the cookbook “Nourishing Traditions,” new opportunities in farming are opening up. An example is the new dairy farm established by the Morells in Prince Georges County, Md. The county has had operating dairy farms for over three decades.
By some estimates, about 10 million people in USA now drink raw milk. Currently about half of the states in the nation allow raw milk sales and legislation for expansion is pending in several, including New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, farms with permits to sell raw milk increased from 25 to 153 over the last decade. In California, there are only two farms with permits to sell raw milk but more than 150 raw dairies operate as herd shares.
At the June 7 anniversary gathering, attorneys Pete Kennedy and Gary Cox talked about the history of the FTCLD and updated members on some recent legal cases and other activities. Gary Cox joined the organization shortly after winning a court case that set a precedence that legalized herd share agreements for raw milk dairy farms in Ohio. The recently released documentary Farmageddon provides a good introduction to the challenges of food rights and the how the FTCLDF became involved in many of them.
After the celebratory events and tours of the P. A. Bowen Farmstead, the farm store was opened for the sales of artisan raw milk cheeses made on the farm using milk from the herd of Jersey cows. Whey-fed pork, pastured poultry, and grass-fed beef were also for sale. This farm, which is open at other times for tours, serves as a model of traditional farming and food systems as promoted by the FTCLDF.
To learn more about the FTCLDF, visit http://www.farmtoconsumer.org.
Editor’s note: Dr. Heckman is a soil scientist. He operates a small farm with chickens on pasture in New Jersey. His farm is a member of The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.