Category Archives: Food, Freedom…Or Not!

“IF PEOPLE LET THE GOVERNMENT DECIDE WHAT FOODS THEY EAT AND WHAT MEDICINES THEY TAKE, THEIR BODIES WILL SOON BE IN AS SORRY A STATE AS THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO LIVE UNDER TYRANNY.”THOMAS JEFFERSON

The Untold Story of Milk: The History, Politics and Science of Nature's Perfect Food; Raw Milk From Pasture-Fed Cows by Ron Schmid

The Untold Story of Milk: The History, Politics and Science of Nature’s Perfect Food; Raw Milk From Pasture-Fed Cows. By Ron Schmid.

“”Open and fair-minded officials need to learn that raw milk from healthy animals, carefully produced and handled, simply does not cause disease”. – Ron Schmid

“If we are not even free anymore to decide something as basic as what we wish to eat or drink, how much freedom do we really have left?”. – Ron Paul

See a Video Clip and “The Pursuit of Food Freedom” by Joel Salatin HERE

Bureaucrats and Other Pesky Critters

Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare is Becoming our Reality (Hardcover)

The Founding Fathers wouldn’t recognize America today. The God-given freedoms they championed in the Bill of Rights have been chipped away over the years by an ever-intrusive government bent on controlling all aspects of our lives in the name of safety and security. NSA wire-tapping and data collection is Orwellian in its scope. The TSA, BLM, and IRS are all jockeying for control of our lives. Warrantless searches are on the rise and even encouraged in some communities. Free speech, the right to bear arms, private property, and freedom of religion all are under attack. The Constitution has been tossed on the same trash pile as the Bible.

 

From traffic light cameras to phone tapping, from militarized police forces to targeting specific groups of people, the government is unfettered in its desire to control the American people. Police State USA chronicles how America got to the point of being a de facto police state and what led to an out-of-control government that increasingly ignores the constitution and exploits 9/11 security fears to justify spying on its citizens. Stunning new surveillance technology makes it easier to keep tabs on the people. The acquisition by police departments of major battlefield equipment emboldens officials to strong-arm those they should be protecting. The failure of the news media to uphold the rights of citizens sets the stage for this slippery slope. Police State USA tells how we might overcome and recapture our freedoms, as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

(Cheryl K. Chumley)


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Stand Up and Be Counted!

 

“Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.”John Adams

 

For a few years now I have been investigating the legal issues that relate to the rights of an individual to grow and sell meat, poultry, and other homegrown farm products directly to consumers. What would be the problem, you might ask? You can grow or raise, and sell, what you want to sell, right? We live in a free country, with free and open markets, do we not?

Well, not so fast. Being the rather cautious person that I am, I began some time ago to ask questions of people working in a long list of local, state, and federal government agencies that hold jurisdiction over the land, and of us. It has been a painful, core shaking inquiry that is not for the faint of heart. I have not enjoyed the experience.

I can discuss the actual laws and regulations pertaining to selling food later. What I can say now is that, with rare exception, I have confronted a nearly impenetrable wall of mind numbing and intimidating legalize, wrapped in doublespeak, and spouted gleefully by a largely incompetent army of no sayers and useful idiots. I hate to say it that way folks, but I have to call it like I see it.

Apparently, the government at all levels is an equal opportunity employer. I have been treated rudely and dismissively by condescending staff from the city level right up to the big ol’ federal government.

Typically, I’ve been told to call a certain department or agency. I’ve been told by that department to call another because they did not regulate this or that. I have called the referred department only to be instructed to call the department that just referred them. I’ve been put on hold so many times and for so long I don’t know if I can ever listen to bad music again. I’ve been disconnected while on hold, hung up on while talking with someone, given so many bad phone numbers, and forwarded to so many unrelated or defunct departments that I no longer know which agency to question.

More often than not,  I’ve been given information that is incomplete, misleading, or completely incorrect. In many instances I have discovered information at a later date that I felt was deliberately withheld at the time. I have had to constantly reassess the nature and purpose of my original question, and to doggedly return to the trail, like a bloodhound casting for scent. I can assure you that the government’s left hand does not know what it’s right hand is up to. They don’t even know where the other hand is, except to be sure that it just picked your pocket. They didn’t even say thanks.

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I was in a good mood when I started my inquiries. I was positive and full of hope about the possibilities of new ventures, new businesses, new relationships. That’s gone now, and I feel like the cat that has caught a mouthful of tail feathers and no bird. I am still hungry, unsatisfied and empty, left with a bad taste in my mouth that I find hard to spit out.

I can barely talk to someone now without shaking my fist at them in my mind’s eye. I want to scream at them and ask if they somehow managed to forget that hey, by the way, you work for me don’t you know…for us?

I was mocked by a county “authority” a few weeks back. During our conversation he laughed and said something like “You just didn’t know you were biting into an elephant did you? Ha, Ha, Ha!”. (I think there was an unspoken “did ya boy” in there somewhere).

No, I guess you did not know that you had bitten into an elephant. I am wounded. You have drawn first blood. Like Howard Beale’s famous speech in the movie “Network”, I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. The pen is mightier than the sword, or so I’ve heard. I shall add my voice to the cry of raw milk and cheese producers, direct to consumer marketeers, small organic growers, home kitchen artisans,  and the growing ragtag army of others’ similarly wronged.

This is not right. This will not stand. I hope more will join us. We shall see what part of the elephant you are, and what kind of elephant am I.

The_March_to_Valley_Forge_William_Trego
The Sleeping Giant Awakens

After all, I just wanted to sustainably grow and honestly market some healthy and nutritious food to other people of like mind. I wanted to feed my family from my private property and maybe generate some small income to help with a myriad of escalating expenses. I have been stopped at every turn, without recompense, nor quarter.

To deny a person’s right to sell the food one produces defies all common sense. So, I say, thank you for laughing, Mr. Bureaucrat – and calling me to action. It may not be wise to step between a wounded elephant and it’s children. The laws must be changed.

We will have food freedom.

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*Has this happened to you?

I am currently collecting stories from farmers, food growers, and property owners about their experiences of a similar kind. Unfortunately, the horror stories have become more fiendish and pervasive, and all too common.

Care to share?

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“No tyranny is so irksome as petty tyranny: the officious demands of policeman, government clerks, and electromechanical gadgets” – Edward Abbey.

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which he government is the shepherd”. – From “Democracy in America” by Alex De Tocqueville

The eagle, soaring over a farmer’s yard, swept and pounced on a cat, thinking it a rabbit. “In the air the cat seized her by the neck with her teeth and round her body with her fore and hind claws. The eagle finding herself scratched and pressed, bids the cat let go and fall down. No, says the cat. I won’t let go and fall. You shall stoop and set me down”. – John Adams

“To live outside the law, you must be honest”. – Bob Dylan

“Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hard-headed realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners”. – Edward Abbey

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You might also like: Permissions To Come, The Gelded Rooster, and Farming and Food Tyranny in the Land of No.

Teach Your Children Well

Food Freedom – and Self-Sufficiency Too!

Michael Patrick McCarty

You Might Also See Our Post About Gun control HERE

 

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” – From “1984″ by George Orwell.

 

 

Up close and Personal!

 

“You take my life when you take the means whereby I live”.                                                                             ——–William Shakespeare

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.  – Ephesians 6:12

“Logic is an enemy, and truth is a menace”. Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone TV Show; Closing monologue from “The Obsolete Man”.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. – Martin Luther King

“Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete” – Rod Serling

“In the United States big government and untold bureaucracies have been created and organized to manage and control the energies of the private sector. Now, more than ever, this paradigm must change. Business, and trade, no matter how small, must  be returned to the control of its citizens. Business can and will be organized to minimize and control most any kind of bureaucracy. Was not that the intent of the Founding Fathers? It can begin again, in your backyard, and mine…”. – Michael Patrick McCarty

True Facts & The Agricultural Census

farm

USDA agricultural census program is a covert surveillance operation to compile government database of food and farm assets

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com
(NaturalNews) The USDA “census of agriculture” is a government-run farm surveillance program designed to register and inventory detailed private data on farm assets, operations and personnel. A census form is mailed to each farmer in the United States, accompanied by threats of compliance and a warning that farmers who do not comply will be visited in person by government agents.

These agricultural census forms — see a link to a scanned copy below — demands farmers reveal the following information, all of which is compiled into a vast government database:

• # of acres of land owned
• Physical location of the land
• # of acres of croplands harvested
• # of acres of pasture land
• # of acres leased for cash
• # of acres irrigated
• How much money you’ve received from state or federal agricultural programs
• The exact number of acres grown and harvested for each crop: corn, oats, peanuts, cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat and many more
• # of acres of hey or forage crops
• # of acres used for Christmas trees or maple syrup
• Detailed inventory of your greenhouses, vegetable seeds, mushrooms and “propagative materials”
• Detail inventory of tobacco plants, berries, aquatic plants, sod, flowering plants and more
• # of acres of beans, cantaloupes, potatoes, corn and various melons
• # of acres of various fruit and nut crops including apples, grapes and pears
• The total dollar value of all the crops you sold
• Detailed inventory of berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and more
• Details on the number of cattle and calves
• Value of all cattle sold
• Details on pigs, horses, sheep, goats and other animals
• Details on aquaculture operations, including type of plants grown
• Details on poultry production, # of chickens, what kind, how much money, etc
• Details on bees, alpacas, bison, deer, elk, rabbits and more
• Full details on all production contracts including chicken eggs, feed, seed and more
• Full reporting of all income from farm-related sources
• Full details on all farm labor, how many people you hired, what you paid, etc.
Grain storage capacity on your farm
• All production expenses: A full accouting of money spent, almost a full tax return all by itself
• Details on all fertilizers and chemicals applied to your farm
• Details on all organic food production
• The market value of all your land, machinery, buildings and equipment
• Details on all your tractors, what kind they are, how many horsepower, and all attachments
• Details on all sources of energy, including solar, wind, geoexchange, biodiesel and more
• Details on land use practices: erosion, conservation, cover crops and more
• Details on all your farming practices: crop rotations, reclamation projects, biomass harvesting, etc.
• Details on the dollar value of direct sales for human consumption
• The names and descriptions of all farm operators, including name, sex, age, race, hours of work and more
• Household income details
• Details of internet access

All this information will be used to seize farms as already approved under Obama

Most Americans don’t yet realize that President Obama has already signed an executive order declaring government ownership and control over all farms, food, livestock, seeds, farm equipment and more. I’ve covered that news in full detail here:
https://www.naturalnews.com/035301_Obama_executive_orders_food_supply….

The executive order is published at WhiteHouse.gov:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order…

Just over a year ago, on March 16, 2012, President Obama issued this executive order entitled, “NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS.”

This executive order states that the President alone has the authority to take over all resources in the nation (labor, food, industry, etc.) as long as it is done “to promote the national defense” — a phrase so vague that it could mean practically anything.

The power to seize control and take over these resources is delegated to the following government authorities:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;

(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;

(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;

(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;

(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and

(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

Obama already asserts authority to seize your farm, greenhouse, livestock, seeds and grain

As is readily apparent, the executive order admits that the federal government can seize all farms, food, seeds, livestock and water resources any time it wants. The USDA agricultural census document provides the U.S. government with a “registration list” of all farms, seeds, tractors, livestock and water resources. It tells them what each farm possesses and exactly where to find it.

Remember, the U.S. government has already purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition and thousands of armored assault vehicles to use domestically, against the American people. The global economy stands on the verge of collapse, with food shortages almost certain to follow a banking collapse. Once that happens, starvation is only days away, and it’s not unreasonable to imagine the federal government using the USDA agricultural census database to compile a “seizure target list” of farms to raid for food, tractors, seeds and livestock.

No farmer in America is safe from the government. A government that wants to take away your rifle will have absolutely no hesitation taking away your farm. My advice is to refuse on both counts.

USDA census is a violation of Fifth Amendment right to remain silent

The USDA census is, of course, ridiculously invasive and onerous. It places an enormous burden on farmers to fill out the forms and derive financial numbers that are, frankly, private information. Legally speaking, the census forms are a violation of Fifth Amendment rights which say no American shall be forced to testify against himself.

Beyond the obvious invasion of privacy, census forms have become a frightening system of surveillance where the government pries into the private lives of innocent, hard-working farmers who are just trying to make a living by producing honest food. The government will obviously use this system to try to enforce its National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a federal animal tagging and tracking system that thrusts an onerous burden on farmers and ranchers.

The USDA, predictably, claims your data is all protected. “Once you fill out the Census, your personal information is protected by federal law. These laws require USDA to keep your identity and your answers completely confidential,” they claim on their website. (https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Help/FAQs/General_FAQs/)

But that’s a complete joke, of course, because in 1791 we were promised a Bill of Rights that said “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” yet it is routinely infringed by the federal government at every turn. Obama promised health insurance would become more affordable under Obamacare, but rates are actually set to double. The Fourth Amendment guarantees us a right to be safe in our person and our belongings, yet the TSA violates that every single day.

Let’s face it: the government lies. It uses coercion to try to force people to do its bidding. So a promise by the USDA that all your private financial data will be “protected by federal law” holds zero credibility. Especially when the top law enforcement official in the nation — Eric Holder — was himself engaged in illegal gun running that put thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug gangs. When the government itself becomes the criminals, it’s hard to believe any promises of confidentiality.

Case in point: The Social Security Administration once promised your number would “never be used for identification.” Now it has become the de facto numerical ID of all Americans, without which you cannot hold a job or open a bank account. Governments LIE and routinely break promises.

People have good reason not to trust the government with their private data and personal farm details. In an age when the DHS is arming to the teeth while refusing to answer questions about why it’s buying enough ammunition to wage a 20-year war with the American people, we are wise to distrust government promises from any federal agency, including the USDA which routinely conspires with Monsanto.

It’s nobody’s business how many chickens or goats I’m raising

I raise chickens and goats, and it’s nobody’s business how many I care for. The USDA says that everybody with backyard chickens is a “farmer” under their control and therefore must fill out this form or face fines and a possible personal visit by government agents.

The USDA itself admits all this, saying:

Even if you do not believe you qualify as a farmer. You may be surprised to learn that a farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year. Many people who do not think of themselves as farmer actually meet the definition according to the Census. If you own horses, backyard chickens, large urban gardens, etc., you may qualify as a farmer.

Thus, by their own admission, even if you do not produce any food whatsoever, the mere act of living on a piece of land that COULD produce food makes you a farmer! If you have a “large urban garden” you must spy on yourself for the government!

If you refuse to fill out the form, the USDA will send government spies to your property to confront you in person. In their own words:

“For those who do not respond by April 5, NASS will begin following up by telephone and personal visits.”

Add yet, even though you are threatened with being visited by government agents for failing to fill out the form, the USDA admits their own website doesn’t even work much of the time and loses the information you’re trying to fill out:

We are experiencing intermittent connection issues and are working to resolve them as soon as possible. We understand that some respondents have lost their connection or received an error screen that does not allow them to return to the information they already entered. We greatly apologize for this inconvenience and we hope to have the problems resolved very soon.

Furthermore, you are not allowed to answer any question with, “I don’t know.” As the USDA explains:

NASS does not provide an option for respondents to select “don’t know” because your best estimate is always better than “don’t know.”

Of course, the government can always imprison you for providing inaccurate information, so the mere act of attempting to fill out the form automatically makes you a criminal for reporting inaccurate financial data. It’s a catch-22: Refuse to fill out the form, and you earn a visit from government agents along with possible fines. Choose to fill out the form, and you incriminate yourself with possible felony violations for “lying to the government.” This is the crime that sent Martha Stewart to prison, by the way.

Read what farmers really think of the USDA and its census surveillance demands

Here’s some of what’s posted on the LocalHarvest.org forum:

USDA Census harassment
Has anyone else been hassled by USDA for refusing/neglecting to fill out their census form?

They kept sending me copies, and I kept throwing them away, because as we increasingly see, USDA fashions its every policy with an eye to promoting the interests of Corporate Ag while squashing small family farms.

In particular, given what we have seen of USDA’s lies, deception and coercion in pursuit of their disastrous NAIS policy, I do not trust them to honor their privacy assurances, but rather I expect they will use information from the census to feed into NAIS.

We know that they have lied to the public and to ag organizations about the NAIS policies, e.g. that the program is voluntary when it is in fact coercive, that it will benefit farmers when it would in fact destroy small family farms, etc. They have demanded that vendors of livestock feed require a NAIS “premises id number” or you can’t buy feed, in some locales.

NAIS is simply impossible for small, already overworked family farmers to comply with. It would subject anyone keeping any farm animals, even a couple of backyard chickens, to more scrutiny, intrusion and surveillance than a violent felon or convicted pedophile. The record-keeping and reporting requirements are unbelievable. If the strain of all this added time and labor is not enough to ruin family farms, the fees and potential fines for violating their stupid reporting requirements will finish the job.

So, I told this lady, I am not cooperating with USDA because of their anti-family- farm policies including GAP (see related thread), organic certification (see related thread), and especially NAIS. I told her I did not trust their “privacy” assurances.

She was nice enough but finally said, “I’m not threatening you, but a federal statute requires you to submit this census, and USDA can fine you. You’ll be getting letters from the USDA about this.”

This is outrageous. We need to be writing our congresspersons about the way USDA is being used to bludgeon family/small farms. We need to build public awareness about what is going on. Let your customers at your Market know, and urge them to talk to local, state, national officials about the desperate need to nurture, rather than impede, community-based agriculture.

I see this situation worsening by the month, as nanny state bureaucrats seem to be crawling out of the woodwork like so many termites. If we don’t get active and fight back, we are lost!

RE: USDA Census harassment
Yes, I too have been harassed by the USDA for not wanting to fill out their VERY lengthy survey about pretty much nothing..in my opinion. I too finally 1/2 filled one of the three they sent me with SOME of the information they needed to know. The rest was none of your business answers. I too was threatened with fines etc. Personally, I was sick of the mailings, letters, and phone calls!!!

There are two fines – one if you do not reply to it and another if you provide incorrect information (lie to them). So when I get this I write in bold letters “None of your business” on every page. Then on the last page I write “This is my response and its the truth.”

Yes, I also was harassed 3 times. Called the USDA the rep. said they would not enforce the fine. Finally got around to filling it out with several sections labeled “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS”.

Re-posted with permissions. Thank you Natural News.

See original article here.

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Michael Patrick McCarty

Cow Shares and Bull Crap

Sustainable Settings, near Carbondale, Colorado, is a non profit organization that promotes whole systems strategies in sustainable agriculture, green development, land stewardship, and much more.

They have been getting a lot of attention lately for their raw dairy co-operative and herd share venture. About forty shares have been sold to eager consumers and raw milk advocates, and the small guernsey herd cannot produce enough to satisfy the public demand. The story is the same wherever and whenever a herd share program can be found.

Sales of raw milk are governed by the individual states. Each state has different laws, and in some cases it is banned altogether. The FDA has jurisdiction over interstate sales, and has banned all sales of unpasteurized milk across state lines. In Colorado, herd shares are deemed legal by state statute or regulation. If you live in Colorado, joining a herd share cooperative is the only way to legally purchase raw milk.

Raw milk proponents are becoming more vocal and better organized. Several groups, like the Farm to Consumers Legal Defense Fund, are fighting in the courts on behalf of their farmer members in an effort to change the law. According to Steve Bemis, Esq., “Some state regulators and especially federal authorities continue a relentless campaign against raw milk and free choice in food”.

The federal government has now claimed that fresh milk is 150 times more likely to make you sick than pasteurized dairy. How absurd? What a complete and utter load of crap! How long do you think it would take me to find 150 heartfelt testimonials as to the health benefits and curative properties of a raw milk regimen. Not long, I can assure you.

I will agree that there is a great sickness here. However, it is not to be found in the people who believe in their right to eat what they want, when they want it. It is the FDA’s thought process, mindset, and culture of arrogance that is deathly sick. Their unflinching pursuit of government regulated control of what you and I ingest must simply be checked. The laws must be changed.

For now, you cannot argue with the sick minds’ at the FDA and other similar government regulatory agencies. They simply cannot hear you because they don’t think they need to listen to the poor unknowing public. I’d say it is about time they enjoyed a regular dose of raw milk at their family dinner tables.  It might help them clear their muddled minds and see the light that burns more brightly every day.

I hope that I can one day own a herd share at Sustainable Settings, or a place just like it. I defend your right to do so too, should that be your wish. I believe the founding fathers of this country had something to say about that very thing when they penned that glorious document called The Constitution.

 

Farming and Food Tyranny In The Land Of No

Home Waters – Chatsworth Lake, New Jersey

Farmers in Southern New Jersey Can Find Their Farming Options To Be Severely Limited Because of Wetlands Designation Under The Pinelands Protection Act.

My younger brother owns a thirty acre blueberry farm in southern New Jersey, and recently, we have discussed the possibilities of combining forces. He, with his blueberries, and my wife and I with our expertise in poultry, egg, and squab production, together with the addition of any other farm crops that would surely find a ready market in the local area. It is the “garden state”, after all, and if you have never had the pleasure of the legendary “Jersey Tomato”, then you have missed one of the world’s great culinary treats. It sounded like a grand idea, at least on the hypothetical and hopeful face of it.

However, just under the surface of it all lurked the state of New Jersey’s well deserved reputation for over regulation, government over reach, bureaucratic red tape, and corruption. Pack a large population in a small area of solid ground, squarely on top of that troubling paradigm and you may have an idea why I moved to Colorado more than 35 years ago. Still, the idea of new adventures color our days, and it would be nice to be surrounded by family once again. A small farm in the relative quiet of the Pine Barrens of rural South Jersey, not far from the tidal bays and the salt water fisheries of the Atlantic Ocean, could be a fine place to be. Or so we thought.

Knowing what I do about zoning and regulation, and the ongoing and escalating war waged upon the small farmer, I began to research the land use and planning issues related to such a venture. It has been a farm for many decades, after all, so what kind of potential issues or problems could there be? Well, quite a few, as it turns out, and the entire, sorry mess is so complicated that my head spins as I write this. I will do my best to explain to you as I race to comprehend it myself.

It is no surprise to discover that a great deal has changed since I moved away in 1976. The area in which we grew up is known as the Pine Barrens, and it was our backyard, and our playground. We hunted for bobwhite quail and whitetailed deer in the hardwoods behind our house, or fished for slashing grass pickerel or plump yellow bullheads in the tea colored lakes. Mostly, we wandered and roamed as we chose, or road our dirt bikes on the endless sand roads.

We were to young and preoccupied to be aware of the tremendous development interests and numerous conflicting desires overwhelmingly focused on the Pine Barrens.The area had always been recognized for it’s unique cultural and natural resources. So unique, in fact, that in a partnership agreement Congress and the State of New Jersey created the Pinelands National Reserve under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, and the 1979 New Jersey Pinelands Protection Act. It became the first National Reserve in the nation, encompassing 1.1 million acres and making up the largest tract of open space on the mid-atlantic coast. It makes up over 20% of New Jersey’s land area, and is underlain by some of the highest quality and voluminous aquifers on planet earth. The importance of these aquifers cannot be overstated. It is the presence of these waters that define the Pinelands.

New Jersey’s Famous Cedar Colored Waters

The Pinelands Protection Act established the Pinelands Commission, which functions as the planning authority for the reserve. Preservation, protection, and development guidelines are contained in The Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. The plan is administered by the Commission in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies.

So what does this all mean for a small farmer in the Pinelands of southern New Jersey? Well, it means everything, as you might guess. Under the Act, county and municipal master plans and zoning ordinances must comply with the Management Plan. The Plan is a regulatory instrument, which provides for the exercise of police powers to enforce the allowable uses of land and waters.

Shamong Bog New Jersey Pinelands

While one of the main objectives of the plan is to promote the continuation and expansion of agricultural uses, it aIso protects the quality of surface and ground water. Other objectives aim to preserve and maintain the essential character of the environment, including indigenous animal and plant species and their habitats. It does all of this while discouraging scattered and “incompatible” development, and provides incentives in an effort to steer development towards less ecologically sensitive areas of the The Reserve.

I did not know any of this when I began to investigate the idea of farming with my brother. The farm sits at the outer edge, but within, the Pinelands National Reserve. He purchased it in the early 1990’s, with the knowledge that the previous owner had sold away the building development rights for the property. I discovered that under the Management Plan those rights had become Pinelands Development Credits, and were “severed” when they were sold to the Pinelands Development Credit Bank. But it was an existing blueberry farm, albeit “deed restricted”, and for him that was all that mattered.

Blueberries In The Sun

As I continued to research, I was led to believe that there were no issues or potential problems with the idea of raising and marketing poultry from this land, or any problems with expanding into other agricultural uses. I had already looked into what I knew to be applicable federal and state laws regarding on-farm poultry processing, so I next spoke with the appropriate people at the County and Township levels. New Jersey is a “Home Rule” state, which means a great deal of the business there is handled by the municipalities.

I found out that my brother’s farm meets the standards for, and is considered a “qualified farm” under The New Jersey Farmland Assessment Act. In simple terms, this means that he has the required amount of land under agricultural production, and therefore enjoys the benefit of reduced property taxes. I also discovered that the property had the proper zoning for agricultural use. Neither the county, or the local township, could point out any reason why we could not put our business plan into action. It was then that I received a call back from the offices of the Pineland Commission. The wheels of progress grounded to a halt and ended our simple entrepreneurial dreams, bashed to pulp once again under the heel of a bureaucrat’s boot.

It was explained to me that the property does fall within the Agricultural Production Area, one of the nine land use management zones established by the Management Plan Land Capability Map of The Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. These are areas of active agricultural use, generally used for upland field agriculture and row crops. The”uplands”, so named for obvious reasons, are the opposite of “wetlands”.

Depending on which report you read, about 25% of the Pinelands Reserve are made up of various wetland types. About 50% of the Reserve consists of private inholdings. As luck, or in his case, bad luck, would have it, my brother’s farm includes very little uplands and is comprised almost entirely of a major wetland type. The Comprehensive Management Plan establishes special rules regarding wetlands within the Reserve. All development is prohibited, including any development within 300″ of a wetland. The planning and zoning specialists at the county and township offices could have explained this to me at the time and saved me a great deal of time and effort. Apparently, they were not aware of the existence of wetlands either, even though they were looking at the recorded deeds, land surveys, and advanced GIS maps.

As far as I can tell, the farm is considered an inland wetland bog, precisely because the vegetation is dominated by “blueberries”. No there’s a surprise! Wetlands include lands with poorly drained or very poorly drained soils. These areas have very high water tables (at least seasonally), where the water table is often less than 18″ from the surface.

The Management Plan goes further. It contains special provisions with regard to agricultural and horticultural uses in wetlands. It permits horticulture activities related to native Pineland species, and blueberry and cranberry agriculture. It also allows beekeeping. And that’s it! No other agricultural uses are permitted.

Our farming plans and business hopes hinge almost entirely on a few sentences in an diabolically complicated 269 page document, created by an army of lawyers, land planners, and politicians. The document attempts to cover every last detail of the management of a one million acre reserve. But in the end it adds up to one clear result. The Pinelands Commission has final authority in what you may do or not do on your own farm.

Incredulous, I asked for further clarification on allowable uses of this land. I explained that with the exception of a small pond, there was no standing water or boggy areas on the property. By all appearances it was “high ground”.

Could we free range some turkeys or other poultry amongst the blueberries, to clean up bugs or weeds? The answer was a resounding “No”!. Could one build a small chicken coop, perhaps even a temporary structure, in an effort to provide a few farm fresh eggs. Again, the answer was no. Could we turn loose a goat, or a cow, or any other livestock animal? You guessed it, the answer was no. Could we plant any type of vegetable anywhere on the property, or start a small home garden, or tend a tomato plant or two? No!, came the response. There is no debate on these matters. There is also no appeal process. One may apply for a Waiver of Strict Compliance, but any waiver must comply with the issues of wetlands management under the Management Plan. So, in other words, no! Any other questions?

So there you have it. My brother may own one of the few farms in the United States where almost all normal farming practices are disallowed, under penalty of the law. You could say that the responsibility for his lack of understanding falls only on him, and that he should have researched the laws and regulations before purchasing the land. After all, the creation of the Pinelands Reserve is old news to millions of people. But obviously, not to us.

Stalks of Green – Jersey Corn

We always assumed that it was a farm, and a farmer could farm like farmers do, and have done for centuries. It’s embarrassing even, to realize that we may be the last men standing in the land of Jersey that never realized how our property rights had been affected. That being said, my brother assures me that no one with the Pinelands Commission, a congressional delegation, or other group ever dropped by to discuss life under the microscope of a national reserve. No one ever asked him how he felt about it, or how it may have changed his opportunities or plans.

Afterall, who in their wildest imaginations could ever believe it would become illegal to grow a garden in the garden state? Who could anticipate that it would be considered an illegal act to harvest a tomato from your own property, in an area known worldwide for the quality of it’s essence? How could it be a crime to free range a chicken, and gather it’s eggs on a glorious spring morning in the beauty of the pines? How can it be?

As a wildlife biologist, I could be one of the first people to sing the praises and the joys of wetland ecosystems. I can easily tout the many worthwhile and incredibly important reasons to protect and preserve them. In fact, I have done just that many, many times. Yet, in this case, I simply disagree.

To dictate what a private property holder can accomplish on his hard-won land, after already announcing to the world that it is indeed a “qualified” farm, completely destroys the concept of good and common sense. It may not be the kind of farm of which you approve, but it is a farm none the less. To deny a reasonable use is a destruction of private property rights. It’s the worst kind of theft, because it patronizes and destroys while purporting to protect. It makes a mockery of one’s civil liberties, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It rips and strips the permissions of a local government, and places the authority in the arms of a totalitarian and god like national power. My brother’s options were already gone when he purchased his farm, and he never even knew it. It can’t be right! What good is owning property after all, if in the end it is not even legal to feed yourself from it?

The mere mention of the word “wetlands” can inflict paralyzing terror upon the soul of any land developer, as perhaps it should in many circumstances.  However, a wetlands designation is more often used as a life extinguishing dagger strike, straight to the center of the heart of all private property holders. The law and the regulators allow no distinction between the ruthless profiteer and the considerate land steward, unless they want it to. It does not recognize the concepts of sustainable agriculture or holistic management, or any other low impact and whole farm management methods. In that regard, it is the not so secret and ultimate weapon of all land use planners, and the heavy hammer of all controlling agencies and fascist slave masters of the world. A small, lonely farmer or insignificant land owner rarely survives the encounter.

The Pinelands National Reserve may be the most restrictive and intensively managed regional land use regime in the United States. But it gets worse. Did I mention that in 1983 the Pinelands Reserve was designated a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, otherwise known as Unesco? Or that in 1988, it was further designated as an International Biosphere Reserve? What mechanism was applied to grant authority to an international body in the land use decisions of an independent and free nation? Am I the only person that feels uncomfortable with the involvement of the United Nations in the management of the Pinelands Reserve?  Something tells me that there is more to this story, and that it does not bode well for the future of people of the Pine Barrens. For example, there has already been an effort to make hunting and fishing illegal in a Biosphere Reserve, unless done so under very specific conditions.

I write this mostly to share with you my utter and complete disbelief, and to warn not to let this happen to you. I am left with only more disturbing questions. Why do we continue to allow ourselves to be directed by scientists and so-called experts, who always seem to know what is best for us as they collect their payments from those who tell them what to say and how to say it? Why do we continue to tolerate the perverse and prying attacks of an all-powerful but openly corrupt government, which seems hell bent in it’s determination to dictate all aspects of our lives including what and how we may eat?  How can we continue to be dictated to through laws and regulations created to control our land, by people that we have never met, while standing on the very ground we walked upon and called our home long before the legislation was even conceived? What devious plans lay before us, just out of reach of our understanding? Can you tell me, – does it, can it, will it, ever end? In the final analysis, it is up to you, and me, and us.

Left unchecked, the hidden masters will continue to classify and designate and legislate our private property rights into oblivion. Our personal and regional identity, in fact our national sovereignty, will disappear completely into the morning mist of a cranberry bog or blueberry field. If this concerns or disturbs, you may wish to become acquainted with, and in fact very familiar with, the term “Agenda 21”! This many-headed monster grows larger, and more powerful, every day.

Michael Patrick McCarty

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