Farmer Charged, Farm Raided, Animals Seized BECAUSE He Cared For Them Better Than A Factory Farm

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Schenectady County, New York – Earlier this month, a family farm in rural New York was raided by police.  The owners were cited on a number of “regulatory violations”. The owner of the farm, Joshua Rockwood,  is being accused of mistreating his animals; an excuse for the local government to confiscate them.

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Police initially visited Rockwood’s property on February 25th to investigate reports of unlicensed working dogs, weeks before the raid. Unfortunately, Rockwood naively decided to voluntarily show local police around his property. After showing them around, they wrote a number of citations for arbitrary offenses.

The very next day, a veterinarian visited the farm to check on the animals and confirm that they were well taken care of and in good health. The vet said that the animals were just fine, and did not seem to share the “concerns” that the officers alleged during their walk-through…

A second veterinarian was also called in to verify the health of the animals and they also found them to be in perfect health.

A week later, police returned again to notify Rockwood that he was to appear in court on a number of charges relating to the animal’s food and shelter. In total, 12 different charges were brought against Rockwood, but he has posted a number of photos to a Facebook support page, which shows the animals with sufficient housing, and plenty of food.

Rockwood’s Chickens. Look How Healthy They Are!
Rockwood’s Cows

Rockwood has been charged with 12 counts of animal neglect and abuse. These charges come despite the appearing to be in good health. His dogs and horses have been seized and taken away.

Rockwood treats his animals better than most factory farms do, but since he uses traditional farming methods, his farm will fail regulatory inspections, while factory farms will pass.

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Meanwhile, New York is one of many states that are currently considering “ag-gag” laws, which place criminal penalties on activists who expose animal abuse at factory farms.

These laws prohibit the “recording an image or sound without the operator’s permission; gaining ‘access to an agricultural operation under false pretenses;’ asking for a job at a place for the purpose of making recordings; and making a recording while trespassing.” Interesting, so this law prevents us from filming and thus proving animal abuse that goes on in factory farms, but your paid-for police are free to disregard any evidence that proves that an honest farmer was treating his animals well. Ridiculous.

The irony here is that the state will lock you in a cage for filming the horrific atrocities at a factory farm while simultaneously trumping up ridiculous and petty violations if you aren’t a factory farm. Just who does the state “protect” by doing these things? Why, the factory farms that bribe…. I mean lobby them.

Rockwood has launched a $50,000 gofundme campaign to raise money. He intends to use the money to post bond for his horses and to pay for the disrupted legal fees and lost business he has incurred and will incur due to the publicity and effort involved in defending himself. He means to go to court to try to fight the charges and to win back his reputation, his rescue dog, and his horses.

Thankfully, he is almost halfway to that goal; how has the law become so skewed that a farmer who cares for his animals BETTER than a factory farm is treated like a criminal, while finding evidence proving that factory farms are abusing animals makes us criminals.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. WTF!? Screw all these gag laws where you can’t call out these big companies. Even Oprah was in a lawsuit over saying someone’s ground meat was gross. This guy better not get indicted. Any judge who would is a jackass.

  2. I am stunned, why is a farm under regulation of the police, unless there is documented proof of abuse. The photos show nothing amiss what is their incentive?

  3. So the horses & dogs were seized .. where are the pictures of them before they were taken away? I can see the hogs, a few goats, some cow/calf pairs, and chickens …

  4. I have to say that the only country in the West and that is so great having trouble fiddling, fraud, lies, bribery, bribed politicians, bribed judges, bribed politicians etc God Damn it ! Are you so fucking stupid in the US that you just let it continue? Care to the animal in a commendable way and thats not ok in USA? People who file complaint against animal abuse are retained it by a court with a prohibition to speak … Realize one thing: Your country is so corrupt that Russia is as a baby with you in comparison. The “Land of freedom” etc is a joke today. I’d say “The land from Hell” would fit in more perfect today…

  5. Sadly this is not an isolated event. Almost a year ago, a small family farm in NH went through almost exactly the same thing – only the raid was executed over the holidays, so a veterinarian and attorney were unavailable to the owner.

    ***IF this ever happens to you, or anyone you know, have them contact the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund IMMEDIATELY.***

    Their farm is very similar to this one in NY – the animals all have access to the out of doors or shelter, as they please. A mix of species on the NH farm is managed like an ecosystem, bringing many benefits to the land and livestock, and virtually eliminating the need for any drugs or pesticides of any kind. The sheep, goats, cattle, and other herbivores are all 100% grassfed. The poultry is TRULY free-ranging, the pigs graze too, and they area all protected from the numerous predators – including packs of ‘coyotes’ that have been weighed at up to 70 lbs tat are common in the area, and bears – by devoted livestock guardian dogs. The LGDs keep predators away – and only engage if necessary, which is rare.
    (This farm supports (pays the mortgage and taxes) on thee times toe amount of land they farm, which has been set aside for wildlife)

    Like this farm in NY, they started raising healthy, happy livestock for their own use, and then began offering clean, grassfed and free-range sheep, beef, pork, most from traditional breeds, etc to their community. The volume was small, but interest in the quality products they were offering was providing an opportunity to grow.
    Like most American farms, an off the farm job paid the mortgage and property taxes. The farm also provided the chance of a family member with health challenges to contribute to the family through meaninful work on the farm.

    As at this NY farm, the horses and dogs were taken by police, with no substantial justification. This is ften one, because the public gets more worked up over accusations of neglect or abuse to dogs and horses, than pigs or goats. For example, the officials claimed there was no food available for the dogs, because THE FOOD AS IN A SEALABLE PLASTIC CONTAINER, but ‘the bag was empty’. Really.

    ‘Rescue’ organizations readily take them in, then charge huge amounts of $ for care – even though they are supported by donations, are not-for-profits, and run by volunteer help. They can’t sell the farm animals as readily, so those are not as sought by ‘rescue’ groups.

    As often happens, the owner was given the opportunity to sign over their rights to their animals OR face criminal charges. This it the legal definition of extortion.

    Even after a veterinarian with outstanding credentials, including having worked with police in the past on cases involving alleged abuse/neglect inspected the farm and animal, like the farm in this article…, the police and officials did not want to drop it. Sadly, the emotional and financial costs of defending themselves against bull**** charges is more than most family owned farms can handle. Too often they just roll over.

    When they go to court, judges often believe the officials over other experts, even documented research supporting the animal management practices – even from the USDA. The NH farm complied loads of documentation refuting every allegation regarding the care of the animals at their farm – except for some dmae from a recent storm – which was quickly fixed.

    Nearly a year later, one of their beloved working LGDs and one of their horses ha yet to be returned. And one more small, local family farm is questioning whether to continue… They have yet to recover from the costs, and the emotional strain.

    Another family in Mass raising just a few animals for their own use was harassed by police and animal control that they finally gave up… A guy who enjoyed keeping a few sheep and alpacas on his small acreage lost one to old age… and was convicted of animal abuse. People who knew him told us he took wonderful care of his animals and had good shelter for them. We could go on, and on…

    Meanwhile, as the article says, commerical farms regularly ave conditions that are really not good. Even the c;ean places often never let their animals outside!!! First it was chicken facilities – laying hens in tiny cages stacked to the ceiling in metal warehouse buildings. And meat chickens shoulder to shoulder, never seeing the light of day. Then pigs… And now dairy cows are increasingly being kept indoors 24/7. Or, in mild climates, in feedlots. Cows on pasture are becoming rare.

    Find and support the farmers in your area who are doing it right – while you still have a CHOICE to buy from real people producing real food – instead of the industrial food complex.

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