“WASHINGTON, June 18, 2011 – Slow Food D.C. hosted the world premiere yesterday of the documentary film Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms for an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd. The film, directed by Kristin Canty, tells the story of several family farms that were raided by the FDA and the USDA at great taxpayer expense for questionable reasons.
A mother of four, Canty undertook the project upon being met with disbelief when she talked about raids on small farms. “I told everybody,” she said, “but no one would listen.” Since people didn’t believe that the federal government would spend so much money and time to try to limit consumers’ choices and put small farms out of business through raids, Canty felt compelled to shed light on the issue.
I didn’t want to make a movie; I’ve got four kids!” she told the audience at a panel discussion after the 7 p.m. Friday screening. Because small farms and local food had become so important to Canty’s family, she got involved in the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund before embarking on the documentary. She wanted to get the word out about the struggles for small farms to survive in a system that is designed to benefit large industrial farming, or agribusiness.
Canty came to understand the power of healthy food when her son’s severe allergies and health problems were healed on a diet that included raw milk. “Charlie was allergic to the world,” Canty said of her then-four-year-old. Now 16 and thriving, Charlie once suffered from asthma and a hearing impairment because of fluid buildup, and he was not growing well. When conventional medicine failed to help, Canty researched alternative therapies. “Charlie was completely healed by raw milk,” Canty said.
The film shows federal officials seizing tens of thousands of dollars of legally produced raw milk products from a Mennonite farmer and forcing another farmer to pour out the raw milk his consumers had already purchased. The film and the panel discussion raised the question of the why the federal government would spend so much time and money on small local producers who use sustainable agricultural practices and sell direct to consumers. By contrast, large farms are not required to disclose the chemicals they use, are allowed to grow chickens who live their whole lives in small spaces, and are allowed to plant genetically modified crops that cross-pollinate with organic crops.
One of the farmers profiled in the movie and on the panel following the screening was Linda Faillace, who has documented in her book Mad Sheep: The True Story Behind the USDA’s War on a Family Farm. The sheep farm she ran with her husband and children raided and their herd removed and slaughtered under suspicion of mad cow disease, a disease that has never affected sheep….”