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Chelsea Green Blog

Wendell Berry in Prison if Animal Identification Law Passes

Wendell Berry—longtime small farm activist, cultural critic, poet, essayist, novelist, and iconic social revolutionary—says he will go to prison if the NAIS law passes. NAIS, the National Animal Identification System, is currently in its “listening session” stage among groups of small farmers in the US. And suffice it to say, the law is not going over well. It basically would mean tagging or branding every single animal on every single farm…no matter the size. That means my teensy homestead/farm will become a governmentally controlled, bureaucratic nightmare, and “freedom” in the very basest sense of the word—being able to grow one’s own food—will be eradicated from reality for good.

It’s a brave new world. But Wendell Berry is on the front lines of this war. He says: Take me to jail! If the NAIS law passes, he’s prepared to go behind bars in solidarity with young folks trying to make sense of this world self sufficiently. And right he would be.

Berry says:

The need to trace animals was made by the confined animal industry—which are, essentially, disease breeding operations. The health issue was invented right there. The remedy is to put animals back on pasture, where they belong. The USDA is scapegoating the small producers to distract attention from the real cause of the trouble. Presumably these animal factories are, in a too familiar phrase, “too big to fail.” [&#0133]

I understand the principles of civil disobedience, from Henry Thoreau to Martin Luther King. And I’m willing to go to jail to defend the young people who, I hope, will still have a possibility of becoming farmers on a small scale in this supposedly free country.

 

Read Wendell Berry’s full testimony here, from FoodRenegade.


Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More

Pass the Walnut Syrup?

Everyone knows and loves maple syrup, and in some states (like Chelsea Green’s home state of Vermont), it’s big business. However, it’s a widespread myth that maples are the only trees that can be tapped to produce sap, according to Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest. Sap can also be collected […] Read More

4 Books for Growing Food in Winter

Don’t let cold weather stop you from producing and enjoying your own food. For many, the coming of winter simply means cultivation moves indoors or under cover. Small farmers, homesteaders, home gardeners, and commercial growers can extend the growing season with techniques outlined in these essential books. There’s no need for urbanites and small-space dwellers […] Read More

A Simple Way to Grow Fresh Greens Indoors This Winter

Just because the temperatures have started to drop doesn’t mean you have to live without fresh greens until Spring. Author and gardener Peter Burke’s innovative method of growing soil sprouts indoors can help you grow nutrient-dense greens all year long at a fraction of the cost of buying at market. Burke’s book, Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, is […] Read More

In Remembrance: Toby Hemenway

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Toby Hemenway, a beloved teacher, author, and permaculturalist. In October of 2015, Toby was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite treatment that seemed to be working, the cancer returned this fall, and eventually Toby signed up for home hospice on December 16, 2016. He died […] Read More
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