Response to Anti-Food Freedom Arguments

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*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.

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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.”

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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.

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