August 1, 2014

Review of Farmageddon

Review of Farmageddon written and directed by Kristin Canty
Rating ****

farmageddonThis film tells the story of how the USDA is using its power and resources to harm small farmers. This is a topic I have written about before. Mostly I have written about the harmful effects of the industrialization of food. It’s a topic covered in great detail by author Michael Pollan, who wrote the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. This film is focused mostly on the government’s attack against small farmers who sell raw milk.

I personally drink as little milk as possible. I’ve switched to almond milk, based on the reading that I have done. That’s not to say that the proponents of raw milk are wrong. They may be right when they say that raw milk is healthier than the watered down, pasteurized milk most people consume.

The film covers a half-dozen different small farmers whose farms were raided by the USDA and other government agencies because of trumped-up and inaccurate charges. In every case the raids and seizures of products and equipment are way out of proportion to the alleged infractions. We’re talking about swat teams with guns drawn coming in at 6:00 in the morning to stop a farmer from selling raw milk. You’d think they were selling marijuana.

The director, Kristin Canty, does a good job of interspersing the personal stories of the farmers along with images from the raids, discussions with lawyers who discuss the legal issues, and those authorities both past and present willing to explain the reasoning behind the senseless raids.

One farmer highlighted, who hadn’t been affected by government raids but does explain how government regulations hamper his business, is the owner of Polyface Farms. This farm is highlighted in Michael Pollan’s book as an example of how farming should be done. I don’t think anyone who compares the way his farm operates to that of the large industrial farms can come away thinking that the industrialization of food is good for you.

The film also looks at some other topics including the burden regulations place on growers of organic foods, and another farmer whose sheep were seized and slaughtered because of suspected mad cow disease, even though no sheep has ever been known to have mad cow disease nor did the government have any evidence that their sheep were anything but healthy. This farmer, however, did business with another farmer on the government’s target list who sold raw milk.

I am not a fan of the tea party and their mantra of less regulations and smaller government. There has to be regulations and government oversight. But this film highlights the problems that occur when politicians without a basic understanding of the facts draft regulations that make no sense and cause undo hardship on people who are trying to do the right thing.

This film is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon. You can learn more at www.farmageddonthemovie.com.

 

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