Monthly Archives: July 2015
*The following was published on a local Visalia newspaper* An opinion piece was published in the Visalia Times-Delta on July 22, cautioning people to not sign a petition that would put the legalization of miniature goats and chickens in the city of Visalia to the voters.
I will say, it raised some interesting points for Visalians to consider. While delivering doom and gloom about diseases and noise and plummeting property values and a plague of rats and so on, the author does not cite any data or references to the dozens upon dozens of mega-cities that currently allow miniature goats and chickens within their city limits. He does not do so, because the fact of the matter is, the problems he cites just do not exist.
There is no shortage of urban farming friendly cities out there, so why the conjecture of what “could” or “might” happen when you could get a real grasp on what a city with goats and chickens would look like by actually looking at those cities?
San Diego, Portland, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Long Beach, Pasadena, etc. etc. etc., all allow goats and chickens. Before I ever addressed the City Council regarding legalizing these small, friendly, useful pets, I personally called every single city listed above (and then some) to get their take on these pets. And do you know what I found? Not a single ill report. No disease outbreaks. No “hide your children and hide your wives, because there are feral goats and chickens terrorizing the streets.”
Below are two examples of statements issued to Visalia, and I have many more on my website (www.improgoat.com) for those interested in actual facts.
San Francisco (Population 837,000) – Capt. Denise BonGiovani with San Francisco Animal Care and Control who has starred on the reality television series “Animal Cops: San Francisco” on Animal Planet states: “I know we have a lot of miniature goats in our city, but we haven’t had a single issue with them. No sound or smell or trespass or health complaints. I personally haven’t even seen a miniature goat in our city, not once, because they just haven’t caused any problems.”
Seattle (pop. 652,000) – Sandee Hansen, administration specialist and public disclosure officer for Seattle Animal Control, states, “I have worked for Seattle Animal Control for over 15 years and have never once, in a city of over half a million residents, received a noise or trespass complaint for miniature goats — both prior to and after their becoming legalized in the city. We’ve had no problem with minis, there is no reason for them to not be acceptable city pets.”
I’d personally love to see a comparison of the health hazards; property damage rates; violent attacks; noise complaints of goats and chickens to cats and dogs.
Miniature goats and chickens are physically incapable of reaching a decibel on par with a large breed dog’s bark. I also find it personally amusing that while the author condescendingly tries to find a comparable example of how “annoying” a goat is, the only comparison he makes is how they sound like women. Nice.
And the bird flu epidemic? That is a point that ultimately favors backyard flocks. The epidemic is a direct result of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in industrial chicken farming — the very conditions backyard farmers seek to avoid. As reported by the New York Times, USA Today and the Associated Press (among many others) — the bird flu is not affecting backyard flocks, even as egg prices soar from the mismanagement of inhumane commercial chicken farms.
Speaking of diseases, you are actually far more likely to contract a disease from a neighborhood dog or cat than you are from a city goat or chicken. Chickens and goats are not prime carriers of rabies or other common zoonotic diseases (diseases which are transmissible to humans or other animals). According to the CDC, the most common zoonotic disease in the United States, with 750 cases a year, is Toxocariasis, which is commonly contracted by contact with infected cats and dogs. Taxocariasis is nonexistent in goats and exceedingly rare in chickens.
The author then goes on to point out how the goat and chicken petition “can affect your home value.” I agree. So does the most recent July/August 2015 issue of Realtor Magazine. The featured article, written for and aimed at realtors, spent multiple pages pointing out to housing professionals that urban farming is sweeping the nation and that homes suitable to backyard farming are increasing the value of properties in residential settings. Saturated with colorful images of raised garden beds, chicken runs and — yes, even miniature goats — the article stresses that if you list a house as friendly to urban farming, it will “sell faster and drive the value of the property up.”
Lastly, the author accuses Urban Farmers for Food Freedom of “holding local taxpayers hostage” regarding the cost of a special election. For those unaware, this ballot initiative has been drafted because the city’s elected officials are refusing to represent the people they are sworn to serve. As the Freedom of Information Act revealed, our elected officials are not interested in listening to or responding to the citizens of Visalia. A ballot initiative is, at its core, a means for a misrepresented public to have recourse despite government corruption.
From day one, we have only ever tried to work with the city. And the fact is, while we are gathering signatures, the city still has the ability to do the right thing and respond to the overwhelming majority that wants a restoration of God-given property rights, and spare the taxpayers this needless expense.
While people like this opinion piece author may be content to purchase all of his food from stores, those who opt to pursue greater food independence (whether for financial, health, environmental, or food safety and security reasons) should be allowed to do so. Miniature goats and chickens harm no one. They are better neighbors than most “conventional” pets. Just ask the cities that have legalized them.
Food freedom is a basic human right. In this era of overbearing government control and invasive meddling, I encourage you to take a stand for food freedom, and when that petition comes your way, vote pro-goat.
Urban Farmers for Food Freedom Addresses the Visalia Unified School District and Tulare County Board of Education
Over the past few months, dozens of citizens of Visalia have come together to form the organization, Urban Farmers for Food Freedom. We formed this committee in an effort to protect essential human rights and liberties, and to advocate for and educate the community concerning food freedom and urban food production topics.
Last week Urban Farmers for Food Freedom filed a ballot initiative with the City Clerk – the Family Food Freedom Act Initiative – which, when voted on by the People, will legalize milk producing miniature goats and egg laying chickens within the City of Visalia. In the following days after filing, we also addressed the Visalia Unified School District and Tulare County Board of Education.
In response to the economic and social climates, there is a nationwide movement to legalize food producing animals such as chickens and miniature goats in residential areas of major cities.
We have been following some of the proven and successful methods of major cities that have legalized these animals and have found that with the legalization of urban agriculture, there has been an increase in educational outreach and involvement with school districts in the basic question, “Where does my food come from?”
Major cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, New York and Portland have all legalized miniature goats and chickens within city limits and there has been a significant increase in educational efforts to teach kids basic skills and principals and offer first hand experiences with small food producing animals.
We know the value of having responsibly owned food producing animals in our backyards. We see our children learning – not through agricultural tourism, but as a day to day experience – where food comes from. Urban agriculture allow children to learn life lessons from responsibility to compassion for animals to basic food production.
Childhood in only enriched by these experiences!
Legalizing food producing animals that abide by all noise, trespass and health ordinances – usually more faithfully than the traditional dog and cat – is a great victory for families and especially for small children.
But until we win this victory for food freedom, property rights and family rights here in Visalia, Urban Farmers for Food Freedom would love to donate our time, energy and efforts to the Visalia Unified School District and Tulare Board of Education, in the form of classroom visits, workshops and educational lectures.
We can bring baby miniature goats to the classroom – these little guys weigh 2 pounds at birth and max out averaging at 35 pounds. We can discuss the digestive processes of ruminants, the history of goats (one of mankinds first domesticated animals) and even let kids try their hand at milking!
Regarding chickens, we can donate eggs and equipment to host “springtime egg hatching in the classroom” and go over the reproductive and gestational developments of baby chicks. The options and opportunities are endless and we are certainly open to suggestions.
Just know that we are here to help, educate, and to serve, and we would love to work with this exceptional school district and do our part to offer exciting, innovative and imaginative educational experiences to Visalia youth.
We have been thrilled to be contacted by various journalists, authors, artists and activists in our fight to legalize miniature goats and chickens in Visalia, California.
Awhile back, we were contacted by Southern California author Todd Bagley, author of The RQ Factor. Todd messaged me:
“In the span of a few minutes during an interview you gave, I heard you key into a core issue: “apathetic voters”… as such I think you would appreciate our Foreword which introduces and unpacks and idea we call Kewl-Aid (Knowledge Enhanced Wishful Living is a snare for the Apathetic, Ignorant and Docile). Perhaps what we need is to realize that our problems are not caused by “right vs. left” as much as they are “up vs. down”.”
Intrigued, I agreed to meet Todd over coffee over Independence Day weekend.
We had a lively conversation, and I was happy to hear Todd expound on his book – a business text that addresses the pursuit of happiness in sales, marketing and leadership systems. At the end of our meeting, Todd gave Susan and I some autographed copies of his book.
I recently finished my copy, and while I am not a business-minded person, I found it an enlightening read and a great little book for life and liberty loving pursuers of Happiness!
Huge thank you to Todd for reaching out to Urban Farmers for Food Freedom! It’s amazing to see how many food freedom fighters there are out there joining us in this battle!
If you’d like to check out Todd’s book, visit www.theRQfactor.com
Yesterday we filed the Family Food Freedom Act in Visalia, CA! Rather than repeat myself, please watch the video below of me addressing the City Council and informing them of our efforts, along with the official language of our ballot initiative. Check it out!
I am here today to inform you of my efforts in the community. Since I last addressed the City Council asking for assistance and consideration regarding legalizing miniature goats, dozens of citizens of Visalia have come together to form the Political Action Committee, Urban Farmers for Food Freedom.
We formed in an effort to protect essential human rights and liberties, and to advocate for property rights and food freedom.
This is why I’m speaking here tonight. I’m here to inform you that Urban Farmers for Food Freedom has just returned from the City Clerks office earlier today, where we filed our Family Food Freedom Act Initiative, which, when voted on by the People, will legalize milk producing miniature goats and egg laying chickens within the City of Visalia.
I regret that it has come to this, but the time has come to take the decision making power out of uncaring hands, and put it where it belongs – with the People, the voters of Visalia. Because the fact of the matter is, Visalia is pro-goat and we vote.
I’d like to read you the official language we submitted, and I would like to – once again – invite each and every one of you to be representatives of the people of Visalia, to listen to your constituency, and to take a stand for families and food freedom.
Also, before I get into the language of the initiative, I really want to thank Amy and Warren for really listening to the people and putting the will of the public first and foremost in regards to the issue of chickens. You have done your duty as representatives of the public and that is admirable.
Now, from what I understand, every single one of you on the council still have the ability to embrace this and make this ordinance change happen without costing the citizens and the City of Visalia money in the election process – around $120,000 or more from what I understand. This ballot initiative will happen, as I’m sure all of you all well aware.
So why do you want to be wasteful? Why would you want to burn through taxpayers hard earned money over an inevitable ordinance change that you could resolve yourselves? Just to be stubborn?
Please keep in mind that it is not too late to make this change happen as I read this initiative to you.
The language we submitted is as follows:
FAMILY FOOD FREEDOM ACT
Food producing animals may be kept by any Family household within the Visalia City limits, as follows: A maximum of up to six (6) chickens, and up to four (4) miniature goats (miniature goats shall mean Nigerian Dwarf or African Pygmy breeds of goats), combined. A total maximum of ten (10) food producing animals shall not be exceeded per Family household.
The following requirements must be kept:
No Roosters may be kept.
No intact male goats older than ten (10) weeks (intact means not neutered).
There must be at least ten (10) square feet of permeable land area available for each chicken, plus adequate enclosed shelter space for all chickens.
There must be at least one hundred (100) square feet of permeable land area available for each miniature goat, plus adequate shelter space for each miniature goat.
Adequate shelter must be provided to protect the food producing animals from the elements and to prevent wildlife or other predators from gaining entry.
Adequate fencing shall be provided to prevent the food producing animals from escaping when not in their shelters.
The number of food producing animals allowed under this section shall not be counted against the number of dogs and/or cats allowed under other provisions of this code (See the municipal codes permitting up to four dogs and/or cats combined per Family household within the City limits).
And that’s it! It’s that simple. It’s that innocent. With Fourth of July fresh on everyones minds, now is a great time to take a stand for individual and family freedoms. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, we’d love to work with you. This will happen and it would be a pleasure to have you folks on board and doing your part to serve and honor and fight for the values of Visalians.
Also, check out the Visalia Times Delta article from this morning! CLICK HERE TO READ!