Monthly Archives: May 2015

Council Member Bob Link is a Definite NO on the Miniature Goats… But He “Understands What I’m Going Through and Sympathizes”

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The next City Council Meeting – where we will be firmly requesting that the miniature goats be put on the next possible agenda for consideration – is rapidly approaching. It’s been a crazy, busy week and we covered a lot of ground and made a lot of connections. It certainly looks like things are firing up to be interesting this Monday night!
While the Council Members are finally opening dialogue with us and appear to be willing to consider and discuss the issue of miniature goats in the city, I have not received any affirmation that any one of them are DEFINITELY planning on initiating putting miniature goats on a future agenda. We don’t even know if they plan to finalize the chickens on Monday, there are rumblings that they may just shoot it down, even after We the People have made our desires known. (Oh won’t THAT be a fun turn of events?)
The only affirmation I did get regarding where Council Members currently stand on the issue, is that Council Member Bob Link has NO intention of voting in favor of chickens or miniature goats within the city of Visalia.
During our meeting with Link, Susan Walsh and I got these basic questions answered:
Q: Do you intend to look into the issue of miniature goats in the city some more and educate yourself on the issue?
A: No. 
Q: Would you vote in favor of miniature goats in they were known to abide by all preexisting animal ordinances?
A: No. 
Q: Are you willing to compromise or find common ground together in our efforts to legalize miniature goats in the city?
A: No.
Q: If the majority of Visalians wanted miniature goats legalized, would you then do your job as an elected official and vote the values of your constituency in favor of goats?
A: No, because I personally don’t like goats. That’s my opinion and that is my job, to vote my opinion, and it’s not changing.
I think Link needs to realize that simply “not liking” something does not give you the right to infringe on your neighbors right to privacy and property and food freedom.
It actually seems frightening and disturbing to me that someone with such an exaggerated and skewed view of their job description and authority has been sitting on Visalia City Council for 16 years. Why doesn’t Visalia have term limits in place to protect the city from “career” council members only interested in voting their personal values and scratching their friends backs instead of following the rather simple job description of representing the individuals in their districts??? But I digress!
When Link elaborated on his dislike of food producing animals in the city, he made the rather unusual comment that, “When Visalians buy a $450,000 house, they want to know that they won’t be living next to anything they don’t want to.” This right here, more than anything, confirms my suspicion that the primary argument against goats is classist in it’s nature, and that we have some extremely out of touch council members who do not know, care for or even understand the problems, struggles and desires of the average Visalian.
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It’s precisely this kind of class discrimination (civilized people just don’t LIVE among goats and chickens, you see) that makes the concept of raising your own food just foreign to this guy. In what I’ve come to call the “let them eat cake” argument, (“Just BUY the milk / eggs / cheese” or “Just go BUY lots of land in the country if you want to save money by growing your own food!”) people like Link who throw that drivel around either just don’t care or genuinely just don’t understand that some people could cut their grocery bill down and actually make their mortgage payment this month if they had the freedom to raise their own food on their private property.
While food producing animals certainly benefit those in financial straits, they also make wonderful and educational pets that abide by all preexisting animal ordinances, AND they are a great hobby for anyone in any walk of life. They are just as relevant companions as a dog or a cat. The concept that food producing animals are a frivolous revolt of the underclasses that needs to be squelched by the well-to-do is just unbecoming and laughable when you consider that major cities like San Francisco and San Diego where the average median cost of a house is $700,000 ALLOW MINIATURE GOATS IN THEIR CITIES!! Keep in mind, the average median cost of a house in Visalia is just $162,000… a far cry from the “$450,000 homes” Link pictures when he takes a stand against the goat loving underclasses he seeks to crusade against.
But even if we all lived in the neighborhoods our council members think we live in, we’re still no San Diego! We are an agricultural community and we need not be ashamed of that! Goats in the city won’t drag us down or diminish our quality of life.. it will actually ENHANCE the lives of those in our community and encourage and foster a spirit of self-reliance and self-sustainability that our communities sorely lack due to outdated and overbearing ordinances like the one we’re fighting on Monday!
We concluded our meeting with Link telling me, “I understand exactly what you’re going through and I sympathize with you.”
Yes Link. I’m sure you understand exactly what it’s like to have your body fail you and leave you unable to provide milk for your tiny developing child. I’m sure you understand exactly the painful sense of inadequacy and self-esteem destroying disappointment that a mother feels when she is left with a scarred chest that cannot nourish or suckle her precious children. I’m sure you understand exactly what it’s like to have to be a physically disabled mother of a newborn humbling herself and asking other women if they would be so kind as to spare even so much as a drop of breast milk for her little ones. And when breast milk donations aren’t plentiful, I’m sure you know exactly what it’s like to be struggling to make ends meet, and have to choose between paying the mortgage or giving your child superior nutrition that is not GMO laden high fructose corn syrup.
I’m sure you also understand what a financial and nutritional Godsend my two milk producing pet goats were to me and what a therapeutic outlet these creatures are to a young mother who cannot produce breast milk, finally being able to provide for her children the best that she can. I’m sure you understand what it has been like to get up at the crack of dawn to milk goats twice a day for my children, and thank God each morning that He has provided me with these amazing, gentle, milk producing animals. You clearly understand how I found solace and healing in the thought that God has granted me two hands that work when other body parts have failed. And of course, you no doubt know what I’m going through when these precious animals that do so much for our family and mean so much to my daughters, were senselessly and needlessly torn from me because people like you “just don’t like goats”.
It’s clear that you “understand what I’m going through” and “sympathize with me” when you place YOUR personal and baseless bias against a useful and harmless animal above MY right to feed my children.
That’s Good Samaritan kind of compassion right there, when someone would sleep better at night knowing that his neighbor struggling to feed her daughter doesn’t have a goat, instead of fighting for the distraught woman deprived of her private property that was breaking no ordinances and harming no one and existed solely to be a loved pet and a little girls primary source of nutrition.
As I’m sure you folks can tell, I did not feel as though Link respected me during our discussion. I feel that he did not take me seriously, that he spoke condescendingly to me and that he did not see me as an equal – even chiding me as if I were a child at one point. But considering that he graduated high school the exact year that Disneyland was built and seems to be stuck in the 50’s era when he was working in a men’s clothing store at the same time men’s clothing ads like the ones below ran in magazines, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Link felt he knew what was best for me and the I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head over things like what I can provide for my children and what my child can and can’t eat on my private property.

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So to summarize, we will need THREE of the FIVE council members to do their jobs in listening to the majority, and take a stand for personal property rights, rights to privacy, and rights to FOOD FREEDOM. We know that ONE of the five is strongly anti-food freedom (among other things).
If you want to have your voice heard on this issue, and if you’d like to write to the Visalia City Council and encourage them to take a stand for food freedom, please do! You can reach them at the e-mail addresses below:
– Mayor Steven Nelsen; snelsen@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Vice Mayor E. Warren Gubler; wgubler@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Council Member Greg Collins; greg.collins@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Council Member Bob Link; blink@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Council Member Amy Shuklian; ashuklian@ci.visalia.ca.us

And again, if you are in the area and available please join us at the Pro Goat Rally at the next City Council meeting.. the venue has changed to the Visalia Convention Center at 303 E. Acequia because the city expects lots of you lovely folks to show up with signs, stickers and pro goaty goodness. Let’s not let them down, yeah?

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I’m Pro Goat and Food Freedom Activism in the News this Past Week

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We’ve had a good week as far as news coverage here in the Central Valley! Click the links below to check out the articles we were mentioned in!

The Visalia Times Delta – “Visalia Times Delta Local Top 5″ – May 25, 2015

The Fresno Bee – “Groups Protest Against Monsanto” – May 24, 2015

The Visalia Times Delta – “Pro Goat Backer Cries Fowl” – May 22, 2015

The Valley Voice – “Chickens Unable to Cross Road.. Yet” – May 21, 2015

Truth Farmer – “Be an “I’m Pro Goat” Supporter” – May 20, 2015

Activist Post – “City Takes Family’s Two Mini Dairy Goats; Pay Thousands in Fines or Same to Rewrite Code” – May 18, 2015

Food Freedom USA – “The City of Visalia, California, Threatens Family with $1,000 per Day Fine for Keeping Two Dwarf Nigerian Goats” – May 18, 2015

I was particularly interested in the comment by Council Member Collins, as quoted by the Visalia Times Delta article :

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I would LOVE to hear this from Collins himself. With so many asking me for the opinions and comments of our elected leaders in the City, I would love to convey a personal message, and not just a third party snippet from the media. I would love to see our City Council connect with the concerned citizens of Visalia and work TOGETHER to see this issue resolved.
Instead of hearing these words from a newspaper clipping, I would love to hear firsthand what the opinions and views are from the council members themselves. In fact, I would love to hear from them, period!
From our perspective, being brushed aside and our petition pooh-poohed after the May 4th meeting, no one can fault the crowd of 50+ individuals for getting the impression that our City Council doesn’t give a damn about what they think, what they want, and where they want their tax dollars to go.
With the exception of and a promising e-mail exchange with Mayor Nelsen last week, and some brief exchanges with Council Member Amy Shuklian on her Facebook and via e-mail, I have not heard from the other three Council Member since before the May 4 rally at City Hall.
It’s been brought my attention that “maybe they just aren’t getting my e-mails”. And while I am well aware that e-mails can be lost in the matrix (are regularly are!), I am also aware that The Visalia Times Delta, Fresno Bee and Valley Voice have all been regularly reporting on this issue (CLICK HERE to read a full compilation of our mentions In the News). I am also aware that some (if not all) council members are well aware of this website, www.improgoat.com.
So even if my e-mails are lost to a spam folder, why hasn’t the City Council initiated contact with me? They have my phone number. They have my e-mail. They know that I am a mother in distress, fighting desperately for my God-given rights to property and the ability to feed my children milk that isn’t drenched in toxic GMOs or comprised primarily of high fructose corn syrup. As someone pointed out to me a couple of days ago: Where is the compassion? Where is the consistency? Where are the individuals who were oh so concerned with the “little guy” around election time?

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From the comments made in today’s Visalia Time Delta Top 5, it seems that the whole goat issue is the least of the controversial and questionable actions our city leaders have been facing. As stated in the article:
“The only issue is that the map is drawn conveniently around the homes of the current city council members. For those not interested in politics, I might sound a bit like that teacher from “Peanuts,” but the issue boils down to this: is your city council ensuring that your votes matter, or just that your votes can matter after they place in their own ballots? Our city council members asserted this was not the case, but in light of current controversies involving goats and chickens many perceive City Hall as a zoo of it’s own accord, and these new boundaries as simply a closer look into determining who will be next to leave office.”
This article confirmed a lot of my observations over the past month. I have heard COUNTLESS comments similar to those made above during my talks with the citizens of Visalia and during my time spent in the community raising awareness about the right to small food producing animals within city limits. Many in our city are deeply concerned with the current state of our local government.
As a concerned mother, an advocate for personal freedoms and real food, and as an old fashioned Constitution loving patriot, I am also becoming deeply concerned with the state of affairs in good ol’ Visalia, California. I love my home. I love my city. I want nothing more than to see our city become a thriving community where our leaders honor our constitutional rights, protect our personal freedoms, plan for our future in an increasingly industrialized world, and ultimately support individual families.. especially lower income families trying to make ends meet, who most need our love and support.
This whole fiasco is really a blessing in disguise, because it has awakened the activist in me, and I WILL NOT STOP until I see our city join communities like San Diego, San Francisco and Denver, and relax it’s iron grip on our God-given freedoms. This is not 1970. We live in a world where a compilation of dwindling resources, drought, the economy, the advent of “Frankenfoods” and GMOs, and the ever encroaching government trying to overhaul and control our health – from vaccines to foods – simply REQUIRES a return to self-sufficiency and self-reliance. I promise you, I will keep active and engaged in the community until Visalia returns our right to private property and our right to responsibly own small food producing animals that break NO city noise, trespass or health ordinances!
And along with the awesome people I’ve met during this epic journey, we’ll keep a sharp eye on our local governments long after this issue is resolved, and we will ensure that our government is one that protects our freedoms, NOT one that fights to diminish and withhold them.
While I am still uncertain where exactly they stand on the issue of miniature goats responsibly owned in the city, I am grateful to Mayor Nelsen and Council Member Shuklian for being responsive and open to discussion over Memorial Day Weekend. I did not expect a response during the holidays, and their engagement was unexpected and greatly appreciated. (EDIT: Vice Mayor Gubler just contacted me to set up a meeting. Again, I am very grateful that they took the time to reach out!)
I would love nothing more than to sit down and discuss this issue with our elected officials and to come up with a solution that is best for our thriving agricultural city!

In the meantime, MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR JUNE 1 AT 6PM!! We’ll be rallying at City Hall and asking that the City Council treat this issue with the same consideration and care that they gave the chickens (which had no rallying, no petitions, and no tearful mother begging for her daughters nutrition to be returned home!) We WILL see miniature goats legal in Visalia, California!!

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Visalia Food Freedom Activists March Against Monsanto in Fresno

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Some of the concerned Pro Goat citizens in the Central Valley joined food freedom activists in Fresno today for the annual March Against Monsanto on Blackstone. What does being pro goat have to do with Monstanto? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED!!
Ultimately I bought my two miniature goats, Idee and Eos, in response to the stranglehold that mega BigAg Corporations like Monsanto has on food in our community.
Monsanto’s GMO seeds and crops have been linked to hormone disruption, gut damage and other problems that, especially in children with immature developing digestive systems, can lead to a lifetime of chronic health problems.
So in GMO contaminated America, what options does a mother have when she is unable to breast feed or obtain human breast milk donations?

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Over 90% of infant formulas sold in the United States are sold by Abbott Laboratories which sells Similac, Mead Johnson Nutrition which sells Enfamil and Nestle that sells Gerber. Each of these powdered formulas is loaded with GMO corn and soy byproducts, along with highly processed sugars.
Beyond just poisoning our children, Abbott, Mead Johnson and Nestle all want to keep this poisoning a secret. Each of these companies, along with Monsanto, spent big bucks fighting California’s GMO labeling initiative, Proposition 37, which would have required that infant formulas contain warnings about GMO content.
When it comes to infant formula, a safe, healthy, affordable, GMO-free product is hard to find in the United States. It’s infuriating that parents in the United States are not given the same assurances as citizens in more than 60 other countries including China, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, when it comes to GMO ingredients in food products.

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So if a mother, unable to breast feed or find donor breast milk, is unwilling to play GMO roulette with infant formulas, what are her other options? According to the World Health Organization, the best option for a newborn in the absence of breast milk, would be fresh goat milk.
However, in March of this year, a new study in the official journal of the International Goat Association recently found that genetically modified feed is having a notable impact on goat mothers, goat milk and goat kids. GMO feed was found to resist digestion, locking away some nutrients that would otherwise be found in goat milk. The consequence, of course, was that kids fed the affected milk grew slower, stayed smaller, and were prone to illness compared to kids of mothers on organic GMO-free feed.
With raw, organic, GMO-free goat milk costing roughly $30 to $40 per gallon in the state of California, what is a concerned mother to do?
This unique situation isn’t hypothetical. I was born with a congenital abnormality called tuberous breasts hypoplasia. The condition alone affects the ability of women to breastfeed because the milk glands usually do not develop enough to produce breast milk. After finding various (thankfully noncancerous) lumps in my breasts as a teenager, my doctor decided to remove them, and in the process perform reconstructive plastic surgery. I ended up receiving a partial mastectomy, which removed my milk glands and damaged the nerves around my areola – sealing the deal that I would never be able to produce breast milk and breastfeed in the future.
With the cost of goat milk being exceptionally prohibitive, and no affordable raw organic goat milk options in the Central Valley, I bought two little miniature milking goats so that I could make my own safe, clean, affordable infant formula for my newborn and my toddler. Weighing in at 35 pounds and being smaller than my toddler, my tiny goats are more than just pets – they are a source of vital nutrition for my children.
Part of the reason why I was so riled up for this rally today is because the City of Visalia, with it’s outdated and overbearing ordinance against small, eco-friendly food producing animals within city limits, has taken my goats from me. I am fighting, as only a passionate mother can, to restore Visalians rights to property and food freedom.

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GMOs have never been proven safe for human consumption. The long-term effects have never been studied, and because babies’ bodies are already less equipped to deal with processing toxins, it is only logical to stop feeding them untested genetic materials that could lead to permanent health damage.
While many people who live in the city may be content to purchase all of their food from stores, and blindly drink the Monsanto Kool-Aid that GMOs are safe and healthy, those that opt to avoid GMOs and pursue greater food independence (whether for financial, health, environmental, or food safety and security reasons) should be allowed to do so. All parents have a right to healthy food options for their children. It is a basic human right.

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I was able to speak at the end of the march and share my story, and we handed out fliers to the freedom activists, many of whom live in the Hanford / Visalia / Tulare area and were riled up to join us in this fight. It’s great to see so many in our local community stepping up and stepping out to fight for food freedom. We can and we will make a difference if we keep speaking out!
It was amazingly uplifting to see how many were passionate about helping me get my goats back, and I can’t wait for the Pro Goat Rally at Visalia City Hall on June 1st at 6pm!

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Mini Goats at the Farmers Market Tonight!

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We had a great night at the Thursday Night Visalia Farmers Market! Tonight was the coolest by far because Brooke, a lovely local goat breeder, brought out her two precious little miniature Nigerian Dwarf goats to join in signature gathering fun! (To answer the burning question, “Will they get any bigger?!”… yes, they will, but NOT BY MUCH. These petite loves usually max out at around 35 to 45 pounds. Click here to see a picture of my full grown two year old Nigerian Dwarf next to my 19 month old daughter. 

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So aside from tonight being cuteness overload (seriously, soooooo cute!!!) it was a great night for signatures.. we actually did not expect the huge crowd and didn’t bring enough signature sheets and stickers to go around! We also keep getting requests for I’m Pro Goat shirts with the goat logo, so I think those will be on the horizon sometime this weekend. Keep an eye on our website if you’d like to grab one for yourself!

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It’s simply amazing how many people are up to speed on the “goat thing that’s going on in Visalia”! We’re starting to get an awesome group of volunteers (special thanks to Brooke, Tawny, Josh, Susan and Jonathan tonight!) and the issue itself is forging a strong sense of community and solidarity in fellow Visalians. It’s abundantly clear that our culture and community is overwhelming, and in some cases passionately pro-goat!

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Did you get a chance to meet the goats? Don’t forget to share your pictures and hashtag #progoat! If you missed us tonight, be sure to keep an eye out for us at next weeks Farmers Market! And, of course, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the June 1st Rally for the Goats, where we’ll submit our petition and ask that CITY COUNCIL INITIATE THE ORDINANCE CHANGE TO ALLOW MINIATURE GOATS IN VISALIA!!

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CONFIRMED: The City Council CAN Waive the Application Fee… But Just Doesn’t Want To

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Today Susan Walsh and I (Gingi Freeman) attended the Site Review Plan meeting with the City Planners to discuss the ordinance change to allow miniature goats in the City of Visalia.
Our application was approved and we have been given the green light to proceed and submit the Zoning Amendment Application ($3532) and the Environmental Fee ($66) to move into the next stages of changing the outdated animal ordinances in Visalia to allow miniature goats.

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The BIG question we had, which the City has been unusually hesitant about openly answering, was – “WHO is footing the bill for the chickens in Visalia that is currently in the process of passing?”
After much evasion, runaround and skirting of the question over the past few weeks, we finally received an answer today.
During the meeting, Paul Scheibel, the City of Visalia Planning Manager said, “Ultimately during an open city council comment session, there were three City Council members that directed staff to look into what it would take to make chickens legal in Visalia. We started research and we reported back to them. Basically, we work for the City Council and they said to initiate the municipal code amendment, and this is why it didn’t cost the chicken proponents anything because the majority of the City Council initiated it.”
When we pressed for the possibility of a fee waiver in initiating a similar ordinance change for the miniature goats (especially since it’s the EXACT SAME ordinance that is currently being amended), Paul added, “The City Council controls the budget, the cost of running the city, and our salaries to process this paperwork. So they are the only ones who can say, “Yes, do this for free” or, “No, we’re not going to do this for free.”
So to clarify – For the chicken ordinance that is currently in process there were no community petitions. There were no rallies. No one asked that it be put on the agenda. The council simply decided, hey! We want to do this!
Being pro-food freedom, I think that legalizing chickens is great, and I applaud the City for taking the initiative in expanding property rights and food freedom in our city when the majority of Visalians WANT the animal ordinances updated to include food producing animals. But therein lies the problem.
VISALIANS ALSO WANT MINIATURE GOATS TO BE LEGALIZED IN VISALIA. Visalians WANT to see my goats returned home. The longer this drags on, the longer we are without a milking goat to supplement my inability to breastfeed my daughters. Visalians have DEMANDED that the Council amend this ordinance.
In less than one week there was a petition with Visalia residents signatures approaching the 1000 mark. There was a large rally with well over 50 individuals and standing room only in City Hall. And there were ten individuals who spoke out during public comment DEMANDING that the issue be brought to the agenda for consideration. Yet the council simply decided, hey! We don’t care what the public wants. We don’t want to put this on the agenda. Go pay the city $4000 and then we’ll talk!

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When viewed side by side, (how the Council approached chickens vs. goats) this is a case of clear and blatant discrimination and abuse of office that is approaching local government corruption. When city officials vote their personal whims and desires in one area with little to no citizen initiation, and then completely ignore the overwhelming requests and demands of the majority of their constituency, it’s time to remind the officials who they work for.
I have been very courteous in my attempts at correspondence with the City Council Members. Since the May 4th rally, I have sent 3 e-mails to each of the council members informing them of our efforts and community involvement, and requesting a meeting so that we can work together on this issue. However, the City Council has yet to reply to a single e-mail. This is shameful.
At this point, with this case gaining nation-wide recognition and bringing heaps of negative attention to our city, it’s time to DEMAND they respond to this issue, respond to the citizens, and to DO THEIR JOBS. The city budget is NOT the council members personal piggy bank for pet projects – whether that is frivolities like leash laws at dog parks or essentials like the right to own chickens on private property.
There are public funds supplied by the taxpaying citizens for use in initiating ordinance changes, and when a majority of the citizens demand an initiation, the bill SHOULD NOT be foisted onto the citizens – or onto an individual family under financial hardships who are fighting for their personal property rights and right to food freedom.
Let me be clear, to initiate this change, the council members DO NOT even have to even agree with the ordinance amendment proposed! They simply have to say, “Let’s look into this” and the $3598 application fee is waived. It’s really as simple as that.

TELL THE CITY COUNCIL TO LISTEN TO THE CITIZENS AND WAIVE THIS EXORBITANT APPLICATION FEE!

You can contact our council members at:
– Mayor Steven Nelsen; snelsen@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Vice Mayor E. Warren Gubler; wgubler@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Council Member Greg Collins; greg.collins@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Council Member Bob Link; blink@ci.visalia.ca.us
– Council Member Amy Shuklian; ashuklian@ci.visalia.ca.us
OR CLICK HERE TO SEND A PRE-WRITTEN PRO-GOAT STATEMENT TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS!

You can also call the City Council and voice your concerns at 559-713-4512

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We are still raising funds for the extortion money application fee. If you would like to donate, you can do so at our GoFundMe below. If the City Council Members decide to waive this fee, all funds will go toward Food Freedom activism in the Central Valley (and to cover the personal expenses of the volunteers pouring money, resources and time into this campaign).

WE WILL BE RALLYING FOR THE MINIATURE GOATS (and the chickens!) AT THE JUNE 1st CITY COUNCIL MEETING AT 6PM AT CITY HALL IN VISALIA AND MAKING A STAND FOR FOOD FREEDOM! WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!!

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The Fight for Mini Goats Makes it into the Visalia Times Delta Local Top 5 AGAIN

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Despite the fact that our elected officials are not connecting with citizens on this issue, and refusing to meet one on one with the Freeman family, it is becoming abundantly clear that the topic of mini goat ownership and their legal status in the city is a HOT TOPIC in Visalia, California.

Since the very day this has started, the issue of mini goats, food freedom and rights to private property has made it into the Local Top 5 every week. The story is even being picked up by surrounding community papers (Fresno, Tulare, etc.) and has even made it into national news circles and talk radio on the web.

Below is an excerpt regarding the goats in the Visalia Times Delta Local Top 5 for May 17th, 2015:

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

“When news hits of a fire consuming of 500 tons of hay, it says something for the spirit of Tulare County when residents first ask if the animals who rely on it will be okay. Our county is home to the internationally recognized World Ag Expo, so it’s only reasonable that our county residents ask if their places of residence can be homes to animals as well. The city of Visalia currently has a prohibition against animals classified as livestock, such as chickens, goats, and cows, and now citizens are fighting back against those restrictions by voicing their opinions at City Hall. Last week it was goats being used to supplement breast milk, and this week it was in regards to chickens. Considering that the week prior had a herd of cattle roaming Visalia city streets, those supporters may have a rough time convincing the city to go easy on the restrictions. The question is, can sustainable living be a reality within the city that represents agriculture world-wide, or does the community still need to prove its trust in terms of caring for livestock? It’s not just a question for them to ask city hall, but for whoever is on the other side of their fence.”

Just a few thoughts on the article – Why, exactly, would a herd of cattle roaming Visalia city streets give us a “rough time” in convincing the city to ease up on residents restrictions (aka, restoring our God-give rights)?

1) The cattle in question were not “city residents”. This is not exactly a case of city animals gone wild or getting out of hand.

2) The ordinance in question (Household Pets and Zoning), and the amendments being proposed (Miniature Goat ownership) have nothing to do with cattle. At all.

3) If anything, the cattle incident only serves to spotlight the fact that we ARE an agricultural community and that in the world of “worst case scenarios” regarding animal ownership, a lone lawfully owned miniature goat that may hypothetically get out and wander the neighborhood is hardly Armageddon in Visalia. (Keep in mind, in EVERY major city where mini goat ownership is legal, there has not been a single case of miniature goat trespass or nuisance violations on the books. So if someone is grabbing the fainting salts over the thought of a tame pet miniature goat on the loose in the heart of Agricultural Center, USA, they can lay THAT fear to rest.)

If anything, the case of cattle in the streets of Visalia should serve as a wake-up call to the people with a hard line “if you want animals, go live in the country” mentality. Even if you are nestled into the deepest recesses of Visalia.. you are STILL in the heart of Ag Country!

And even if you wanted to argue that we need to reserve some pockets of living space that can aspire to lofty urban metropolitan settings such as San Diego or San Francisco… well guess what? THEY ALLOW MINIATURE GOATS! What, exactly is Visalia trying to accomplish by banning small, clean, peaceful and USEFUL food producing animals? What is the possible upside to denying low income and needy families a valuable and vital source of nutrition?

The REAL argument for Visalia, California isn’t “if you want animals, move to the country”. It’s “if you want complete isolation from animals, move to an HOA neighborhood that strictly limits animals”. Someone else’s desire to live in a strictly policed environment should NOT interfere with my God-given rights to property and food freedom.

The nation as a whole is moving toward ideals of food freedom and empowering Americans to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. How shameful that Visalia, California, located in the county that is “home to the internationally recognized World Ag Expo”, is dragging it’s feet on leading the charge.

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We WILL Be Joining the March Against Monsanto in Fresno on May 23th!

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The folks here at improgoat.com WILL be joining the worldwide March Against Monsanto at the Fresno location on Blackstone and Nees on May 23, 2015!!

The reason I initially obtained miniature dairy goats to feed my daughters when I was unable to provide breast milk, was precisely because I was seeking to avoid the harmful GMOs found in infant formula and commercial goat milks, courtesy of Monsanto and their ilk.

Why avoid GMOs in infant formula? Here is an excellent excerpt from Dr. Michelle Perro – a California based pediatrician – courtesy of GMOinside.org. Perro breaks down for us why GMO ingredients are particularly risky for babies:

“For the infant that is unable to nurse, formula is the next best choice. While there are several formulas to choose from (commercial and home-made), there are certain ‘musts’ that I do insist upon – first and foremost, the formula should be organic. Because of the toxic effects of herbicides, particularly glyphosate (due to its prolific usage) as well as other organophosphates and genetically engineered foods [in non-organic commercial formulas], these are not an option for infant feeding.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the inert ingredients in Roundup, as well as Roundup ready seeds (which do not perish under increased spraying of the herbicide) have been shown clearly to have profound toxicity on health.  One particular issue is that it eliminates beneficial bacteria [in our intestines].  More pathologic bacteria that can reside in our intestines have been shown to be resistant to its effects and can thrive.  The beneficial bacterial play a key role in many important functions in the body, particularly immune function.  In addition, glyphosate inhibits the activity of a group of enzymes ubiquitous in the body called cytochrome P450 enzymes which are important for oxidation as well as detoxification in the liver. [Read more about the studies linking health effects of Roundup here.]

Full maturity of the liver in the infant takes approximately two years.  As soon as the umbilical cord is cut, rapid induction of liver functions begin.  The infant liver is delayed in achieving normal detoxifying and synthetic functions such as making proteins, coagulation factors, breaking down products from hemoglobin synthesis (bilirubin being one and, hence, the development of  neonatal jaundice), etc.  If you expose newborns to substances that further impair liver and immune function, the infant has increased health risks.

Lets look at Similac, for example:

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You will note that the number one and two ingredients are corn syrup and sugar.  Both of these products are highly genetically modified, so unless you stick to organic, your infant will be eating pesticide-laden, GMO processed food.

Why not GMOs?  There is an alarming rate of childhood disorders now including allergies, autoimmunity, neurological disorders (Autism and ADHD), growth failure, endocrine disruption, etc.  There are modifications to the immune function that can take place prenatally and early in life which leads to the above disorders (“developmental immunotoxicity”).  Increased exposure to environmental toxins during those sensitive times may contribute to the health conditions noted above.  In animal studies where they were fed GMOs, there were profound changes in their intestines as well as immune function.  There is likely synergistic toxicity.  If there is an insult to the intestine whether it be in its structure or normal bacterial biome, a negative health cycle can begin.

From this pediatrician’s perspective, I do believe we can successfully feed our babies with organic foods.   In order to ensure the health of our infants and children, there is no amount of acceptable herbicide or GMO that should be in their diets.”

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ARE YOU INTERESTED IN TAKING A STAND FOR FOOD FREEDOM AND JOINING US IN THE MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO? Be sure to contact Gingi at gingifreeman@gmail.com for more information. And, as always, be sure to find us and grab your Food Freedom sticker!!

I’m Pro Goat and Food Freedom Supporters WILL be at the June 1st Visalia City Council Meeting to Discuss Backyard Chickens

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The heart of this issue isn’t just “chickens” or “goats”, the issue is ultimately about FOOD FREEDOM, PROPERTY RIGHTS and RIGHT TO PRIVACY!

This is why the folks here at www.ImProGoat.com will proudly and gladly advocate for chickens as the unjust laws governing private property are overturned in the City of Visalia. After all.. we know how to bring the party. 😉

Come join us, and be part of the movement in Visalia that is finally acting upon restoring our God-given rights to property, self-reliance, and providing for our children with superior nutrition!

Be sure to come out early to grab your I’m Pro Goat and Food Freedom stickers! Hope to see you there!! <3

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City Officials Visit the Goat Pen at the Freeman’s This Morning

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Alright folks! WE HAVE AN ACTION PLAN!

This morning City Planner Josh McDonnell, Tracy Robertshaw with Code Enforcement and Senior Planner Andy Chamberlin visited the mini goats pen to see (and smell!) for themselves that responsibly owning city goats in a safe and contained pen is easy, simple and VERY possible!

After a quick tour of the goats pen, the trio recommended that I submit a Site Plan Review Application to be discussed this coming Wednesday (May 20 at 9am) at a City Planning meeting.

Once the details for the proposal are reviewed and given the green light, then it will be approved for us to submit a formal application for the zoning text amendment.

Here’s the bad news. The grand total for the zoning text amendment application is $3598. The good news is that it’s refundable if the ordinance change is ultimately rejected, and we can try again at a later date! (And oh, we will!)

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Once the funds are raised and the formal application is submitted, the issue will go before the City Council for a final vote. With how overwhelmingly pro-goat, pro-chicken and pro-Food Freedom Visalia is turning out to be, I don’t think winning over our elected officials on this issue will be a problem!

To keep everyone fully in the loop I’ve included the cover letter that I proposed to the City Planners. PLEASE let me know if you have thoughts, input or feedback! In the meantime, help us raise funds and spread the word, and keep in touch for the City Planners verdict this coming Wednesday!

Cover Letter to the City Planners

I am proposing to the City of Visalia that the City Ordinance against owning miniature goats within the city limits be amended.

My suggestion is that a special provision for miniature goats be added to Chapter 17 of the Municipal Code, and that the ordinance “17.04.030 – Definitions” be amended to include a special provision for miniature goats.

The provision I propose is that:

Miniature goats (Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf), weighing under 75 pounds, be defined as “Household Pets” within Chapter 17 Ordinance 17.04.030 definitions.

I understand that there are people out there who would keep goats irresponsibly. To address this issue, I feel that preexisting laws are already in place to address problems such as noise, trespass, animal cruelty, and property damage. (For instance, if someone has a loud goat that is bothering neighbors, those neighbors will be able to address the noisy goats through the existing noise regulations.)

Additional details within the article that I propose be considered include:

–              Minimum of two goats must be allowed. (Goats are herd animals. For the sake of the animals’ health and wellbeing, they require a companion.)

–              Goats must be disbudded. (Horned goats pose a safety hazard to other animals and small children.)

–              Males must be neutered. (Unfixed males produce a strong odor and can exhibit aggressive behaviors while in rut.)

–              Offspring can be kept for up to 12 weeks after birth. (When keeping goats for milk production, occasional breeding must take place. 8 to 12 weeks it the typical time-frame of weaning and re-homing kids.)

I am also open to any alternative revisions that would make the lawful and responsible keeping of miniature goats within city limits possible. Another option I am aware of that I would be interested in pursuing is adding a Food Producing Animal Ordinance.

With the advent of the self-sustainable and food freedom movement, many cities in California are enabling citizens to responsibly keep food-producing animals (referred to as FPAs in many city ordinances).

These ordinances allow citizens to obtain permits or a license for the lawful keeping of livestock (miniature goats, rabbits, miniature pigs, etc.) or domestic fowl (chicken, turkey, pigeon, etc.). Before a permit is issued, the premises must be inspected to ensure that the animals have adequate shelter and that its living spaces meet all space, sanitation and basic humane treatment requirements.

I am especially impressed by Denver, Colorado’s Food Producing Animals (FPAs) Ordinance (CB11-0151) passed in 2011:

The ordinance allows for up to 8 chickens or ducks (or any combination of such fowl), plus 2 dwarf goats to be raised on a property. A one-time ‘restricted livestock or fowl license’ is required. Details within this ordinance include:

–              “Dwarf goat” means Nigerian Dwarf or African Pygmy breeds of goat only

–              No intact male goats older than 6 weeks (intact means not neutered) and no roosters allowed

–              Chickens must have 16 square feet of permeable ground for each chicken (“permeable” means dirt, grass, mulch – water can pass through; NOT concrete, decks, patios, balconies, garage floor, etc.)

–              Goats must have 130 square feet of permeable ground for each goat

–              There must be adequate shelter from weather and from predators

–              There must be adequate fencing in the yard to prevent animals’ escape

I would love to see something similar adopted by Visalia. The isolated families who would like to pursue greater food freedom on their properties would be able to obtain permits to do so, while still keeping these animals outside of the realm of widely accepted household pets in the City of Visalia. The enforcing of square footage minimums for animals living spaces would also cut down on irresponsible animal ownership or pets being obtained in residential zones that lack adequate space.

I am open to advice, input or suggestions – I would like to pursue whichever avenue is best for our community and easiest for all parties involved.

Food Freedom Movement Featured on the Visalia Times Delta!

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Our appearance at and support of the new ordinance amendment in Visalia regarding chickens was featured on the Visalia Times Delta, along with our snazzy new “Food Freedom” logos.

CLICK HERE to read the whole article and check it out!

Here are some excerpts specifically pertaining to our efforts to legalize mini goats:

“Among those speaking in support of allowing chickens in the city was Gingi Freeman, a Visalia woman who recently started a campaign to try to get Visalia to allow the raising of miniature goats in residential neighborhoods.

Last week, she and about 50 supporters showed up to the Visalia City Council meeting to voice their support. Many or stickers that read, “Pro Goat,” and some of the same peopled showed up at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting.

City officials have taken no action on the proposal to allow goats.

Freeman said after the Planning Commission meeting that her husband doesn’t like chickens, “but we believe it’s everyone’s right to be self reliant and self sufficient” by raising livestock for food, as pets or both.

Susan Walsh, who didn’t declare her support to the commissioners, clearly was frustrated after the meeting.

“You know what kills me?” she said. “You can have racing pigeons in this town.””

WANT TO GET IN ON THE ACTION??? Join us for upcoming activism and outreach!! E-mail Gingi at gingifreeman@gmail.com for more information on how to get involved!