“This ain't right. We had all this meat. We worked hard to get it in the freezer, process it, package it,” said Mr. Fisher in an interview with Townhall. “The next day. They came with a search warrant, went through everything, the house, every building, the barn. They just raided through everything. We can't touch it. We can't sell it. We can't feed our family. We can't give it away, can't feed it to the dogs. We can't do anything with it. They just took it to the dump.”
Mr. Fisher raises and butchers his meat on site and sells it directly to his customers. His farm feeds about 500 people in the community. The Golden Valley Farms membership program allows individuals to own part of Fisher’s herd of 100% grass-fed golden Guernsey cows.
Without warning, an inspector with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) paid Golden Valley Farms a visit on June 14th. That day, the government decided to penalize Mr. Fisher for selling meat that was not processed by a USDA-inspected facility.
When Fisher began selling meat, he went to a USDA inspector and sent the meat to the designated USDA facilities. The butchering and processing through the USDA were slow and cumbersome. Mr. Fisher was unable to ship the required quantity of animals at one time and could not operate economically and in a timely manner to satisfy his customers. “By the time the meat comes back, you might be running low on certain cuts of meat, but what you order from USDA was not accurate to that. You might run out of some stuff long before other stuff because you had to order it so far in advance.”
His customers prompted Mr. Fisher to process the meat on the farm, without a USDA inspection. When the USDA surveyed the customer base, the majority (92%) responded that they wanted the meat processed on the farm, without interference from the government. “You have to keep going because people are depending on this stuff as their medicine. I want this world to have the opportunity of finding real food,” Mr. Fisher said.
Fisher said that the lockdowns in 2020 forced him to wait 8 to 12 months to schedule the butchering process. At that time, his customers were stocking up on meat as stores were running out of supply.
“All of a sudden, we had a lot of need for meat,” Fisher said. “Well, there was no option taking it to USDA facility, so that's when the trigger was pushed to do it ourselves. Customers were buying mostly from our own meat, not so much from the USDA. Then the pandemic came and there was no other option but either not have it available or process it ourselves. So, we started processing ourselves. We put additions to the building and made a processing room and we certainly like it now.”
Mr. Fisher’s customers preferred that the meat be processed on site. “They own part of the business. They own some of the herd,” Fisher explained. “My thinking was […] We can butcher their cows, process it, and sell it to them. I told the state all of this, but they said, ‘No, there’s no way around that. You can’t do that.’” Fisher said the inspectors asked permission to search the farm. Mr. Fisher denied their request. “And, they told me, ‘We’ll be back,’ and left,” Fisher said.
The state targeted his farm from there forward. They came in and took pictures and lied to the courts, claiming that Mr. Fisher was selling raw meat and was a public health risk. When the state returned to his farm, they raided the freezers and packed a U-Haul truck full of their meat. Mr. Fisher was ordered not to feed anyone again, not even his dogs or his own family. None of these customers have ever gotten sick from his products. Many depend on the products for their health and food security.
But this didn’t matter to the all-powerful state. When Mr. Fisher continued to feed his family and sell food to his community, the state came in with criminal charges and seized his farm. He now has no choice but to fight back against a rogue government.