April 30, 2013 proved to be another infamous day in the long and growing list of bad days, treacherous acts, and bureaucratic tyranny continuously perpetrated on the American farmer and backyard food producer in the dark order of the new millennium.
We have been following the story of Randy Zeilinger of Garden City, Michigan, who has kept chickens on his property for the purpose of egg production since early 2009. In March of 2012 Randy received notice that he was in violation of a zoning law prohibiting poultry keeping within city limits. This was in spite of the fact that the Michigan Right To Farm Act strictly prohibits a local government from enforcing an ordinance which conflicts in any manner with a citizen’s state rights to operate a poultry business that falls within the guidelines of generally accepted farming practices. This state law explicitly supersedes any city laws that may forbid said farming.
Randy refused to comply with the ordinance and opted to take his case to trial, where it became clear that he was to be made example of in a town where the law did not matter. He was declared guilty of at least one capital chicken keeping crime on April 11, and subsequently sentenced at the end of April this year.
Randy received a sentence of 30 days in jail, which was suspended if he complies with other terms of the judgement. He must report to his probation officer for a period of 6 months, satisfy a fine of over $1100, and pay for the court appointed attorney. He must also comply with “all city ordinances”, which in his case will surely mean that he must dispose of his flock of chickens and thereby lose his only source of income. It also means that if he fails to comply with the court order, he will be immediately and unceremoniously incarcerated.
Yes folks, your read that right. Thirty long days of time behind bars for collecting some farm fresh eggs.
I have no words at the moment to describe the full extent of my outrage at this merciless, jack-booted assault on liberty and honest living, nor the clearness of mind required to explore all of the foreboding implications for anyone who produces home grown food on their so-called private property. That is for another time.
For now, I will just say that it is yet another very dangerous example of brain addled big brother run wild, now probing and prodding so fully into every aspect of our private space and peace of mind. The scurrilous fingers harass and worry, and quite literally steal the very food from our mouths. They pluck away at our earnest livelihoods, and compromise our precious life-force.
I know this much. This is a battle we must fight. These are enemies we must engage. It will do no good to ignore it.
The “Right To Farm” Acts in those states that have them were put into place to protect against just this kind of government overreach and abuse. They were designed to shield the farmer from such blatant thuggery, and to prevent us from being bludgeoned into unconsciousness by an imperious army of code enforcers. We must stand to see that their guidelines are not only followed, but strengthened.
Every farm, every home garden, every parcel of private property, and every laying hen in every cherished nest has become a battlefield, and each in turn must be defended like our lives depended on it.
Because they do.
Today the attack may be directed at your small livestock. Tomorrow it may focus upon your heirloom seeds and your well-tended herbs. It has already begun. Who knows what the day after that shall bring, if we all continue to shuffle about with our hands in our pockets and our eyes staring at the sky…mumbling?
The stories pour in from all over the country as the lines in the sand grow deep. It is a conflict that will surely come to a town or a city near you, in time, if it has not done so already.
Randy has set up a website to inform the world of his plight, and to ask for help and donations for his legal battle. Click on the “help” link above and then the other links on his site. Be prepared to read, and weep. He is fighting the good fight, for his family, and for us.
Can you help?
I am sure that comments and moral support for Randy would also be greatly appreciated. And oh yes…spread the word, and let the trumpets sing.
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