Chelsea Green Publishing

Mad Sheep

eBook: 9781603580267
Pub. Date September 05, 2007

Mad Sheep

The True Story behind the USDA's War on a Family Farm

By Linda Faillace
Foreword by Ronnie Cummins

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
September 05, 2007

$17.95 $14.36

In the mid-1990s Linda and Larry Faillace had a dream: they wanted to breed sheep and make cheese on their Vermont farm. They did the research, worked hard, followed the rules, and, after years of preparation and patience, built a successful, entrepreneurial business.
But just like that, their dream turned into a nightmare. The U.S. Department of Agriculture told them that the sheep they imported from Europe (with the USDA's seal of approval) carried a disease similar to the dreaded BSE or "mad cow disease." After months of surveillance--which included USDA agents spying from nearby mountaintops and comically hiding behind bushes--armed federal agents seized their flock. The animals were destroyed, the Faillace's lives turned upside down, all so that the USDA could show the U.S. meat industries that they were protecting America from mad cow disease--and by extension, easing fears among an increasingly wary population of meat-eaters.

Mad Sheep is the account 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 the industrialization of our food supply. Similar to the national best-selling book, A Civil Action, readers will cheer on this courageous family in its fight for justice in the face of politics as usual and the implacable bureaucracy of the farm industry in Washington, DC.


"From the hearthside warmth of children farmer-entrepreneurs to the arrogant, hardhearted, tyranny of government bureaucracy, Mad Sheep touches the soul with tears and righteous anger. Though it reads like a fiction political thriller, this story of intrigue, bureaucratic falsehoods, and tyranny is true. Linda Faillace gives Americans yet another reason to mistrust every official announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture."--Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farm and author of Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal

"If you think your government wouldn't really lurk in the bushes to spy on you and use its police power to bully you--get ready for a rude awakening. Mad Sheep sounds like a crime thriller Agatha Christie would dream up, but it's a real life nightmare lived by the Faillace family."--Jim Hightower

"Mad Sheep is one of those books that makes going to sleep at a decent hour unthinkable."--ACRES USA

"Mad Sheep will enrage you. The real crazies in this true and tragic tale are the bureaucratic bullies who tortured and tormented heroic Vermont farmers while allowing a deadly dementia--mad cow disease--to emerge in America. The sheep are dead, lives destroyed, mad cow disease here, and the worst is that these bunglers are still running the show."--John Stauber, co-author, Mad Cow U.S.A.

"[Mad Sheep] shows how far a corrupt government agency will go to protect industry. This is a truly Kafkaesque story."--Dr. Tom Pringle, founder, Sperling Foundation

If this were a novel, you probably wouldn't believe it. But the story of a Vermont farming family driven out of business by a government agency is true--and truly frightening. When the Faillaces (author Linda and her husband, Larry) went into the sheep-farming business, they followed every USDA guideline. Then, once their operation was running, that same agency told them their sheep would have to be destroyed because they might spread "mad cow" disease. Despite the Faillaces' abundant proof that their sheep were disease free--and, moreover, posed no risk whatsoever--the USDA forcibly shut the farm down. The agency's actions ultimately had nothing to do with the health of the Faillaces' sheep but much to do with the health of the American beef industry, which could be adversely affected if people believed there was mad cow in the U.S. The author has every right to be bitter, but she maintains an even tone, presenting us with the evidence and letting us see what happened and why. But if you can read the book without getting mad, you're not reading it carefully.

David Pitt


Linda Faillace

Linda Faillace is a writer, shepherdess, songwriter, 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, farmer's rights, and strong local communities, Linda lives with her husband, Larry, and their three children in East Warren, Vermont.


Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep, discusses the NAIS (shorter)

Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep

Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep, discusses the NAIS

Linda Faillace, author of Mad Sheep (extended)

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