Agricultural producers often feel misunderstood by their non-farming neighbors and consumers. Joshua Rockford, a pasture-based rancher in upstate New York, was reported to animal control. Eventually, he was charged with 13 misdemeanor charges relating to animal welfare.

Like an increasing number of producers, Rockford is responding by using social technologies to tell his story online. And there’s more.

Nancy Matsumoto (@NancyMatsumoto) pens an important piece for Civil Eats:

“Since then, Rockford has launched a crowdsourced legal defense fund that amassed over $57,000 and a Friends of West Wind Acres Farm Facebook page “liked” by close to 9,000 people. It’s a movement that has united old-guard farmers and young, conventional and sustainable. Their immediate gripe is against town officials, but those officials in turn appear to be caught between a growing sustainable farming movement—whose practitioners don’t have the capital to invest in expensive infrastructure—and locals critical of Rockford’s practices.”

What happens when those aspiring to be sustainable producers are challenged by those seeking sustainably produced food?

This is a must-read piece that explores a number of important issues. A bonus? An excellent explanation of pasture-based production.


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