- Big Government Has Come for This Small-Town Amish Farmer. Here’s How He’s Fighting Back
- “They came with a search warrant,” softly spoke Samuel B. Fisher, a mild-mannered cattle farmer operating a 100-acre farm tucked away in Virginia’s heartland. Fisher’s bread-and-butter, Golden Valley Farms, carves out the scenic countryside that’s a hop, skip, and a jump away from historic Farmville, a postcard-perfect small Southern town with classical Main Street charm.
- The father of five had graciously invited us down to his idyllic pasture to rehash the whirlwind of unforeseen events that unfolded over the cruel summer. It was a tumultuous time on the Fisher farm, an upheaval that threatened to upend the man’s livelihood.
- “Then, they tagged the meat, so that we can’t touch it; we can’t sell it; we can’t feed our family with it,” Fisher told Townhall.
- What was clear: The state sought to penalize Fisher for selling meat that was not processed by a USDA-inspected facility (U.S. Department of Agriculture). Fisher processes—an industry euphemism for butchering—his farm-raised meat on-site and sells it directly to his customers, feeding about 500 consumers and their families, who are part of a buying club. As members enrolled in the Golden Valley Farms membership program, they’ve bought into Fisher’s herd of 100% grass-fed golden Guernsey cows.
- Though the future is uncertain, Fisher is considering next steps, including consulting with attorneys, if the state seeks to continue targeting him and Golden Valley Farms.
- Fisher once sold USDA-inspected meat, but that was before the government-mandated shutdowns, when access to the nearest USDA processor became burdensome during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, pre-pandemic, the drive was hours away and the cost was hefty, depending on the lot. For example, a trailer load holding four cows and five pigs would be priced at $500, he estimated. It was cumbersome to ship so many animals at one time, process the shipment, and retrieve the meat to have in stock. Hence, it was more practical to process the meat products individually on the farm in order to balance out the inventory and ensure that everything was available, Fisher said. By the time the meat came back from a USDA processor, “you might be running low on certain cuts,” he added. Plus, the pandemic meant “you’d have to schedule your animals around eight to 12 months ahead of time,” making the timing, and how much meat that needed to be processed, hard to predict so far in advance.
- Golden Valley Farms has since launched a GiveSendGo fundraising campaign to support the Fisher family’s recovery as the farm rebuilds what the government of Virginia destroyed. Fisher approximates that $10,000 in products was confiscated and dumped.
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