Film

Milking It

Farmageddon and the War on Small Farms

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SQUEAKY-VOICED documentarian Kristin Canty admits her bias up front: She became interested in farm issues after raw milk cured her young son's allergies. This accounts for Farmageddon's somewhat unexpected focus on the politics of milk.

To be fair, the rules around milk production and distribution do highlight some of the more bizarre issues with state and federal food processing regulations. It's illegal to transport raw milk across state lines, for example—and as Canty films inspectors at a small co-op in Georgia dumping out gallon after gallon of raw milk imported from South Carolina, it's impossible not to wonder if there aren't better things they could be doing with their time. (Canty underscores this point with strategically placed footage from inside factory farms.)

For those who follow food issues, there's not much new here, but Canty does provide a podium for some small farmers who ran afoul of the USDA: One Vermont family had their entire flock of sheep slaughtered because the USDA wrongly insisted they were carriers of mad cow disease; another small, members-only co-op was raided by cops, guns drawn, who were looking for illegal stashes of raw milk.

It's not hard to paint the government as bad guys when they're surveilling, raiding, and harassing small family farms, and Canty does just that. She devotes less energy, though, to answering the question of why the government seems so bent on busting these small farms ("money and politics," is the vague answer). Farmageddon isn't the most artful or hard hitting of the food docs out there—but to its considerable credit, it is one of the most humanizing, highlighting some of the institutional obstacles faced by small farmers in the uphill battle to provide clean, sustainable food sources.

Related Film

Farmageddon

Official Site: farmageddonmovie.com

Director: Kristin Canty

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