In a victory over a small business the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services backed by the state's powerful agribusiness lobby ruled that they could not sell their goat cheese without oppressive regulatory problems. But never underestimate the will of a small business owner. In a turn around they are still moving their product, and making more money then ever.
Two local farmers prohibited by a new state law from selling fresh goat cheese have been giving it away to customers at the City Market, educating consumers about government restrictions and netting more money in donations than they used to earn in sales.The people may want this cheese, but with powerful lobbies throwing money and influence behind the issue, the government sees the donations instead of the people. But in all honesty is that new?
Christine Solem and John Coles, partners who operate Satyrfield Farm in Albemarle County, have not given up the fight to make fresh milk products available to Virginia consumers. They hit a roadblock this year when a bill that would exempt small farmers from onerous regulations buckled under the weight of the state's powerful agribusiness lobby.
"Most of our customers are outraged that they can't buy it anymore. They're incredulous," Solem said. "More and more people want raw milk and cheese from the farmer they know."
While I would say that this is a win for the small guy it isn't. The rules are still there and what is working for this cheese producer may not work for the next. So for every win that is reported, several others will silently close down and their income will be lost. Thanks Virginia.
Why not drop a letter to them here
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesHere are the telephone numbers for the Division of Animal and Food Industry Services and the Division of Consumer Protection. Call them and say "hi".
1100 Bank Street,
Richmond, VA 23219