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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.


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

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
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