Item description for Mad Sheep: The True Story Behind the USDA's War on a Family Farm by Ronnie Cummins Linda Faillace...
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.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Sep 5, 2007
Publisher Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN 1933392762 ISBN13 9781933392769
Reviews - What do customers think about Mad Sheep: The True Story Behind the USDA's War on a Family Farm?
Enlightening and Frightening Mar 28, 2008
This book is about a small family with a few imported sheep, who became embroiled in a whirlwind of government conspiracy regarding the big beef industry, international trade, manipulated scientific data, and the irresponsible panic of one powerful government agent regarding Mad Cow disease. The result was the terrorizing of a family, murder of healthy sheep, and the disillusionment of anyone interested in healthy eating or in the ability of their government to protect their right eat safely.
If you have any suspicions that the USDA is not monitoring agriculture and food safety the way they should, this book is a must-read. It tells the story of a family farm destroyed by the government agency designed to protect food safety. Mixed messages, lies, secrets, big business pressures, international trade, spies, good science and poor science--they're all in here, interspersed with the very personal details of a mother who watched her children's hearts broken as they were betrayed by their government.
I find it ironic that this book brought to mind the works of the "muckrakers" of the early 20th century. After Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" revealed the horrific conditions of the meat packing industry in the US, the government responded by creating the USDA. It is that very agency which is at the heart of Linda Faillace's fight with her government and with the USDA's highly questionable science and politics. Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech in 1906 about the "muckrakers" (who were really just the first investigative journalists.) In his speech he said:
"There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil man whether politician or business man, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in book, magazine, or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful."
Even if Linda Faillace's story is colored by righteous anger and bitterness, the truth is in the details. She and her husband are well educated scientists, and back up their side of the story very clearly and persuasively.
And you think it cannot happen in America Jan 9, 2007
We tend to forget that this country was founded on agricultural principles. With the industrialization of food, farmers have come under scrutiny by various agencies of the government because of the multi-national business arrangements they, particularly the USDA, have. Mad Sheep is a perfect example of what is happening on family farms in the United States. Driven by greed and fueled by fear of being condemned in the global market, USDA makes up a scenario that could absolutely not happen, that being BSE in sheep, and ruins the dreams of another law abiding family.
I read this book in just 24 hours. It has been a long time since a book just wouldn't let me put it down. Perhaps it is because I too am a homesteader and have sheep every year. When the USDA came to take the Falliace's sheep, my tears started to flow, hard.
Mr and Mrs Consumer who know nothing about farming, know nothing about where your food really comes from, know nothing about the encroachment of the government into our personal lives, you need to read this book to get a glimpse of what life will be like for you once an agency of the government decides they want something that you have.
So Why Do We Trust the USDA? Dec 24, 2006
That seems to be the biggest question one has to ask by the end of this very sad story. It was sad on so many levels. It was sad because the Faillace's lost an opportunity to begin a new agricultural venture for a state that badly needs sustainable small agriculture. It was sad because they lost animals they dearly cared for. They had to send house raised bottle lambs on a trailer with sheep they weren't used to. To have perfectly healthy animals seized by a government for no good reason was devastating. It was sad because the Faillace's and their children were failed by the duly elected representatives, both Senator Leahy and Governor Dean waffled back and forth and never really did back them up to the degree they should have (and these were DEMOCRATS not corporate hugging Republicans). It was amazing that Howard Dean, a medical doctor, said the science was too complicated for him (I wonder how he ever got through medical school!). It was sad because once again it was demonstrated that our government cannot be trusted to do what is best for the little guy, that, in point of fact, the little guy is at the mercy of the wishes of bigger guys.
One question that occurred to me at the end of the book is this. After the tainted beef (BSE tainted that is) was sold and consumed did anyone think about putting an immediate freeze on organ donations from any person who might have eaten ground beef in the states that received the tainted beef? I seriously doubt it. Yet people who lived in England during the time of the BSE outbreak are not allowed to be organ donors. I know this because my sister died a couple of years ago from natural causes (not CJ disease), at the time of her death the hospital was informed that she spent 6 months in England during the BSE outbreak. Her corneas, etc. were declined because of that.
It's amazing how much energy went into making the Faillace's look like dangerous people in the mind of the public. It's amazing how quickly the actual exposure of consumers to BSE tainted meat was hushed up. It's not amazing, given the information in this book, that organic farmers of all types don't trust the government. It's amazing, given the information in this book, that consumers do.
The fight really begins - documented here in eye-opening pages of detail. Nov 6, 2006
In 2001 after months of surveillance and harassment armed federal agents seized a flock of some 100 organically-raised dairy sheep. One might think this an isolated incident, but MAD SHEEP: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE USDA'S WAR ON A FAMILY FARM holds implications for farming and food distribution channels as a whole. USDA chief Linda Detweiler claimed the imported sheep had been exposed to a disease, but the flock's owners - here, the authors - weren't about to let the judgement pass silently: they weren't just farmers but scientists, and demonstrated the impossibility of their sheep being infected. And then the fight really begins - documented here in eye-opening pages of detail.
Diane C. Donovan California Bookwatch
not just about sheep Oct 2, 2006
If I had told friends I was reading about alleged disease in sheep they would have missed the true significance of this book. It's about big government intervention against the rights of citizens. It's about a Vermont family's creativity and dedication and how all of that was trampled by the USDA run amok. It's also about what happens when special interests and lobbyists overwhelm a government agency.