Pork bust: Local farmers arrested

The owners of the Double H Farm in Nelson County, Richard Bean, 62, and Jean Rinaldi, 60, were arrested last Friday, September 21 for violating FDA regulations regarding the processing and labeling of their pork products. In addition, Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services agents seized Double H pork products from area restaurants last week, including an entire roasting pig from the South African restaurant Shebeen, which was "denatured" (made inedible) on the spot using a bleach solution, according to Rinaldi. Bean and Rinaldi are scheduled to appear in Charlottesville District Court tomorrow at 9am to learn when their case will be heard.

The news came as a shock to many local restaurant owners, City Market goers, and supporters of the local food movement– often called the "slow food" movement– who have eaten or used Double H products and believe that communities are better served by local farmers like Bean and Rinaldi, who have been selling their products locally since 2001.

"These charges, to my knowledge, do not arise from any complaints on the part of people who have purchased and eaten Double H products," writes Erika Howsare, a special section editor for C-Ville Weekly, in an email to fellow members of the EAT LOCAL forum. "They represent a decision on the part of the state of Virginia to target two people who happen to be outspoken advocates of small farmers' rights."

However, no one appears more shocked than Bean and Rinaldi.

"I never would have dreamed that the government was so controlling," says Rinaldi, who describes 10 VDACS agents, one state trooper, and a Nelson County sheriff showing up at her farm, arresting her and Bean, seizing their computers, and placing them in separate cars. "It was terrifying," she says.

Indeed, according to Rinaldi, VDACS agents have been "harassing" them for year and she describes the arrests as "overkill."

The charge? "Using the wrong labels as price tags," says Rinaldi, admitting the labels say "certified organic" even though the pork isn't "officially" certified. "We just hadn't got the new ones in yet. They just don't like that we were processing the pigs ourselves," she says.

Indeed, transporting un-inspected pork, goat, and sheep products is illegal in Virginia. The two farmers were attempting to comply, says Rinaldi, driving their pigs to a processing plant in Fauquier County, but the process was costing as much as $1300 for four pigs. "We're not rich," she says.

"Seems to me, as soon as you comply with one regulation, they come up with another," she says. "We've recently been told we can't sell our homemade bread or watermelons at the City Market, either. When was the last time you heard about a case of salmonella poisoning from a bag of watermelon at a city market?"

"Its a miserable situation," says Rinaldi, "...an assault on small farmers, being forced upon us by a bureaucracy."

11 comments

they are making a bad name for small farmers....its always been illegal to mislabel things, certified organic is not the same as not certified organic (hence the certification process)....the same with selling uninspected meat...there is a regulatory process through the usda for a reason, and there are many ways to work within the system to sell local and sustainably produced food that do not endanger the consumer by transporting meat in uninspected and unapproved probably non refridgerated vehicles.

You all seem to be missing the point. If the meat inspection laws are wrong then work like heck to change them. However, "accidentily" placing certified organic stickers on the meat and advertising as certified growers when you are not is fraud plain and simple. Double H customers should be outraged and other small organic growers should be too. Believe me no one "forgets" to fill out a 40 page certification application. How about just being honest with your customers and stop blaming everyone else for your fraudulent behavior?

Jean and Richard (of Double H Farm) are two of the very nicest people I have met at the C-Ville Farmer's Market!!! They are fun and upbeat and likeable!! Their products are outstanding (and I am picky!!). Their whole farm is orgainic. They are good old-fashioned farmers that don't use chemical pesticides and junk that you don't want in your food.

I am outraged not at Jean and Richard (Rinaldi?) of Double H Farm, but at the wasted time, effort, and money spent by agencies supported by my tax dollars on prosecuting the nicest people with the best quality products at the Saturday morning C-ville Farmer's Market! There are much more important issues and problems upon which our legal system should focus: Drunk Driving, Drug Trafficking, Burglary/Theft, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Assault, Child & Elder Neglect, public school education, etc. I don't want my tax money going toward the prosecution and possible incarceration of two wonderful people who provide excellent quality food to our community. What a miserable waste of resources (governmental resources and Jean and Richard's resources).

I buy Double H Farm's ham hoc for my husband's favorite food: Mexican style Frijoles Refritos (refried pinto beans). I don't care if they are certified organic or just organic (uncertified); I don't care where the poor pigs get killed. I hope we don't wast more of our tax money on prosecuting Jean and Richard.

Jean and Richard know me as the "Budhist Hot-Dog Vendor" joke teller.
There are lots of people on your side and sending you love and support, Jean & Richard! This story has obtained a lot of publicity! I learned of it from a friend who resides in Ohio!

One more case of government policing!!! I have eaten Double H pork products and nothing happened to me..Just think about your tax dollars at work.. How about concentrating on the recalls from China!! Are they being arrested for children who have died? Oh no of course not!!
I am at a point,I am afraid of any food at the local big shopping Marts, even though it may be labeled ORGANIC( WHICH BY THE WAY I DO NOT BELIEVE!) I don't trust goverment making all these decisions for the big industrial farmers and slow but sure pushing the small farmer out the door, one way or another..
Best of luck to Double H, I hope they win this battle..

That is so backwards!! Why do they waste their time arresting locals over little violations?? I just hope they're not spending time in prison. That would be too much. I wonder how we can help?

Obviously misinformed consumers and media. Selling a product as organic that is not organic is a "slap in the face" to all the small family farms that go to great lengths to obtain or maintain organic certification. This is FRAUD. Were they feeding 100% organic grains? I doubt it. Were they providing mineral or supplements containing 100% organic agricultural products? I doubt it. Did the mineral contain prohibited substances like artificial color or flavor, preservatives, etc. Probably. Did the pigs from certified organic mothers? I doubt it. Did the pigs come from mother's who were under organic management including 100% feed and forage from the last third of gestation? I doubt it. Were the pigs treated with prohibited medical treatments such as antibiotics, synthetic parasiticides or anything else from the last third of gestation? Were the mothers treated or fed feed containing medications during lactation? Who knows, probably does not maintain those types of records which are required of certified organic operations to determine compliance and evaluated with an on-site inspection on an annual basis. The National Organic Program was implemented to regulate the term "organic" and ensure that those products labeled "organic" are in compliance. So Kudos to the Virgina Department of Ag for taking enforcement actions to maintain the integrity of the "organic" label for all the small family farms throughout the United States who are in compliance with the standards, maintain records to verify compliance, go through the annual on-site inspection process including the audit of their records (production and financial) which must be able to fully disclose all activities and transactions. Being a former certified organic farmer (crop, vegetable/fruit, and livestock) and currently working for a USDA and ISO 65 accredited organic certifier I felt compelled to comment on the fraudulent actions of Double H that demeans the integrity of organic products from small family farms that truly are "organic".

This is awful. I feel like soon there will be no food source outside of the agribusinesses. Why is the Virginia government so hostile to small farmers?

This is the biggest load of crap i have ever heard! i had the extreme pleasure of doing business with Richard for 2 years. i no longer cook in the state and miss working with his products immensely! it IS the BEST product i have ever had the opportunity to work with, meat and vegetables alike! It sucks that the "organic" food industry has become what it is, a money hungry machine. What ever happened to the food! Why does a small, family farmer have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a sticker! I know its good, the people of central Virginia know its good, and thats all I need!! Best of luck buddy. DAMN THE MAN!!!

The whole thing was overkill. While the Commonwealth of Va imports more food than they export, they are using your tax dolalrs and mine to terrorize and attempt to drive out of business small diversified producers who are feeding their communities. Boo Hiss...
NOTE: To donate to a fund to help Richard and Jean w/ their legal expenses go to www.majestyfarm.com They have not solicited this, it is simply my desire to have the community a n easy way to provide them with their support.

I feel their pain. I feel their fear. This is another attack like they did on Danny and I last year (Oct 15, 2006 archive issue of The Hook). The question I ask is why doesn't the USDA just talk to people and explain the "infractions" and give people the opportunity to comply? Why the tax dollars to have 10 VDAC agents, a state trooper and the sheriff show up? I believe they do not want compliance with their ever changing regualtions...they want to shut down the small farmer. And unless the people stand up to them and demand their rights, they will continue. They count on it. Our country is going to hell in a hand basket...and we are supplying the basket. Our Constitutional rights are hanging on by a thread.

Jean, Richard...be strong. There is a higher law and we are commanded to fight for what is right. We may not win, but we are commanded to fight for what is right. And so we must.

Pork. Tastes like chicken (with bleach). Mmm.