Farming In Fear

Earlier this week, I attended an event in Michigan that included a screening of a brand-new documentary called Farming In Fear. The film, just 28 minutes long, tells the story of Martha Boneta, who bought a small farm in Virginia and tried to make a go of it by selling produce and so on. She was viciously harassed by a variety of government agencies and environmental groups who evidently intended to drive her out of business.

It appears to be a classic example of the abuse of regulatory power to promote private interests and ideological agendas. Ms. Boneta’s farm home was subjected to repeated and apparently purposeless inspections of closets, bathrooms and so on. At one point, she was cited for holding an “event” without obtaining thousands of dollars worth of licenses and permits. The “event” was a birthday party for a friend’s daughter.

The story ends happily, as Boneta’s case became notorious and Virginia’s legislature eventually passed legislation that brought the harassment to a stop. Both Ms. Boneta and the filmmaker attended the screening and answered questions; she was very impressive. The film is produced by the Charles Koch Institute. Here it is; at 28 minutes long, it is eminently watchable: