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Small town business owner spent 7 years building up organic meat company, only to be shut down by village board

Organic meat company

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(NaturalNews) Iowa-based Black Earth Meats (a USDA-certified organic meat company) was recently shut down by an impatient and uncompromising village board. Just as the company was about to expand, the Black Earth Village Board members threatened litigation and shut them down. Black Earth Meats was doing everything right.

To many, the organic meat processing facility had become a leader in the state of Iowa, providing cleaner, healthier forms of free-range, grass-fed beef. Their humane handling of animals and careful selection of organic beef attracted many new health-conscious customers over the course of seven years. They became so popular that they ultimately decided to open a retail butcher shop in Madison, Wisconsin, called the Conscious Carnivore. Still, residents in the vicinity of the slaughterhouse saw the business as a nuisance to the village. Excess animal byproduct, odors and truck traffic on the residential streets bothered some residents of the community to the point where town officials got involved.

Village Board forces important organic meat producer to close

After seven years of building an organic meat company from the ground up, owner Bartlett Durand recently faced with litigation threats from an uncompromising group of Village Board members. The Black Earth Village Board did not want the operation to expand inside the village because of residential disturbances, so in December 2013 they instructed Durand to move his operation out of the residential area. They gave Durand 120 days to make the move. Durand and Black Earth Meats agreed to comply and offered four plans to the village board to move its facility site out of the village.

Apparently, Black Earth Meats couldn't meet the time demands of the Village Board. Durand tried to ask for an extension as he worked with economic development planners, but he said that the Village Board was persistent in pursuing legal action despite his company offering four options to move the facility out of town. Apparently, the Village Board couldn't wait any longer.

"Instead, the village passed a motion directing its attorney to pursue legal action against the company to stop all nuisance activities," Durand said.

When the Village Board decided to take legal action to keep Black Earth Meats from expanding, the organic meat producers lost its loan from the village's own Bank of New Glarus. This caused Black Earth Meats to be abruptly shuttered in July.

"This is a tragedy," Durand said he told his employees.

"We came with four plans to discuss with them and they just said they would prefer litigation," Durand added. "I told them if they did that we'd lose the note and they did it anyway, and we lost the note."

The actions of the Village Board have since prompted Durand and Black Earth Meats Market, LLC, to file suit against the officers of the village. Durand seeks $5.3 million in damages for improper allegations that have stifled the company's revenue and threatened property seizure without just compensation. The closure is expected to cost 22 employees their jobs.

"I'm crying right now because I just finished talking with my employees. I'm struggling a little bit," said Durand. The Conscience Carnivore market is set to remain open for business, but Durand said this closing also "affects over 100 restaurants, retailers, and farmer's market purveyors. ... It affects the thousands of customers who rely on us for good meat. And it affects the development of a local food infrastructure and small-scale processing."

Durand said he told his employees: "I am devastated that seven years of work building up a local meats infrastructure is destroyed with this unthinkable act by the Village Board."

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