Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Corruption and Ineptitude, Down on the Farm

For Immediate Release August 22, 2006 Mad Sheep The True Story Behind the USDA’s War on a Family Farm by Linda Faillace Contact: Jessica Saturley, (802)295-6300, ext. 106
“Mad Sheep will enrage you.” —John Stauber, co-author, Mad Cow U.S.A.
In March 2001, after months of harassment and surveillance—including USDA agents spying on the family farm from nearby mountaintops—armed federal agents seized what they had identified as an iminent danger to the American people: a flock of 140 organicallyraised dairy sheep. This absurdity was the last chapter in a harrowing and heartbreaking story, one in which the USDA and the American beef industry conspired against a small Vermont family farm. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)—better known as “mad cow” disease—had just devastated the British beef industry and, though it had not yet come to America, the USDA needed to take action to allay fears of the disease, without actually tarnishing the image of the American beef industry. The answer: Linda Detweiler—then head of the USDA and now employed by McDonald’s and Wendy’s—claimed the imported sheep had been exposed to BSE, and began the process of seizing the animals. But the owners of the flock, Linda and Larry Faillace, weren’t going to let the animals go without a fight. Scientists both, and experts on mad cow disease, the Faillaces were able demonstrate that not only were their sheep not exposed to BSE, it was impossible for them to have the disease in the first place. And then the battle truly began. Mad Sheep is the unforgettable story of one family’s struggle against a bullying and corrupt government agency that long ago abandoned the family farmer to serve the needs of corporate agriculture and and the industrialization of our food supply. It is an unforgettable chapter in the latter day history of the family farm. Linda Faillace is a writer, shepherdess, scientist and owner of a country store dedicated to supporting local farmers and locally grown food. She has studied mad cow disease since the early 1990s. A champion of organic and sustainable farming, farmers’ rights and strong local communities, Linda lives with her husband, Larry, and their three children in East Warren, Vermont.

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