Note from the Faillace family - latest on the VT sheep

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I got this in my email this morning... thought I would pass it on as is.......

Dear Friends,

First of all we want to thank all of you for helping us deal with this nightmare. All your prayers, phone calls, e-mails, flowers, food, and especially hugs are so precious to us. We never could have gotten this far without all your support!

Many times since Friday I have attempted to write a summary of the day's events for the list, but ended up too emotional. Stacey Chase, a writer for the Boston Globe, wrote an excellent and moving article. I have added it at the bottom of this e-mail.

Now, stubborn and determined as we are, we refuse to give up and the fight for the truth will continue.

We have received over 150 phone calls and our e-mail in box now has over 800 messages. Along with the prayers and well wishes, are stories from other farmers who had their animals seized by USDA.

Tonight I cried as I read an e-mail from a shepherdess who had the USDA (she referred to them as the "sheep gestapo") show up at 5:00 in the morning to take her "pet flock" ten weeks ago. Even though the animals were never tested, never showed signs of having anything wrong, were not imported, etc., etc., the USDA insisted on killing all of them.

As we all have seen by last week's actions, USDA and Linda Detwiler are out of control.

This Friday (March 30th) we will be having a meeting/potluck at the East Warren Schoolhouse starting around 6:00 pm. We will focus on how we can combine our talents to get the truth out in our case and also discuss ways to help others.

We look forward to seeing you there (and getting your hugs!)

Love,

Linda, Larry, Francis, Heather, Jackie, and 125 beautiful souls who have brought us all together and taught us the true meaning of love, family, and community.

Federal agents seize 2d flock in Vermont

By Stacey Chase, Globe Correspondent, 3/24/2001

EAST WARREN, Vt. - It was a scene that could have broken a bleating heart.

After federal agents yesterday seized the second flock of 125 sheep feared to be carrying a form of mad cow disease, shepherd Linda Faillace reached through an airhole of the livestock trailer carting them away to pet and calm a lamb named Moe.

''Moe was calling out. ... When he gets scared, he has this particular cry,'' she explained as tears welled up in her eyes. ''He just kept standing there, looking at me.''

The seizure at the farm of Larry and Linda Faillace came two days after a related flock of 234 sheep was confiscated at the Greensboro farm owned by philanthropist Houghton Freeman. It ends nine months of legal wrangling over the animals' fate.

Agents, along with State Police and officials from the US Department of Agriculture, arrived at the Faillace farm around 6 a.m. to load the East Friesian milking sheep into a trailer. The truck pulled away around 9:15 a.m., on its way to a USDA lab in Iowa where the sheep will be killed, then tested.

''This went very smoothly from the USDA's perspective,'' said spokesman Ed Curlett. ''We understand that it was very painful for the family. It was painful for us, too.''

About two dozen protesters blocked the road in a brief effort to prevent the trailer from leaving. Later, in parade-like formation, they preceded the vehicle down Roxbury Mountain Road. The protesters carried banners that read: ''Unwarranted Search & Seizure'' and ''Our Political System Is Crazy, Not Our Sheep.'' One sign bore a swastika with the initials USDA marked in the four bends of the spidery symbol.

The small group of protesters turned out in a snowstorm and bitter-cold temperatures to taunt USDA officials. There were occasional chants of ''Deathwiler,'' referring to Linda Detwiler, the USDA's top authority on transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or TSE.

And protesters sprinkled red paint in the snow to symbolize the coming bloodshed.

''I just feel very sad for the family,'' said Connie Colman, from nearby Warren. ''They've just been destroyed by this.''

Faillace supporter Jacki Harmon of Plainfield said the whole thing made her 'embarrassed to be an American.''

Indeed, Larry and Linda Faillace have become local folk heroes in this close-knit central Vermont town. From the beginning, this was a David-and-Goliath battle pitting Vermont shepherds against the US government, with broad powers to seize and destroy animals it believes may have been exposed to mad cow disease or any of its infectious cousins.

The Faillaces' three teenage children each cradled newborn lambs in their arms as USDA officials in brown coveralls went about collecting the rest of the flock. Larry Faillace said his family cooperated with agents, but did not assist them.

''It's a sad day for ourselves, obviously,'' he said. ''It's a sad day for sheep farmers all over the world. The USDA, by claiming a phantom disease that doesn't exist in sheep, is putting [the farmers] at risk of being unfairly treated.''

The Faillaces have maintained throughout their battle, which began in July when four animals in Freeman's flock tested positive for TSE, that the sheep are healthy and the USDA's tests are based on what Larry Faillace calls ''sham science.''

The night before the seizure, family, friends, and neighbors held a candlelight vigil outside the Faillaces' barns. ''It was healing,'' said Harmon. ''We blessed the sheep ... for being peaceful animals and for bringing us peace.''

Harmon brought her 6-year-old daughter, Laci, whom she home-schools, with her to the vigil and the protest. ''This is her Civics 101 lesson today,'' Harmon said.

As the sheep pulled out of sight, Faillace vowed his family's fight to educate the public would go on. ''This is the beginning of a new chapter of our life and of getting the truth out to the public,'' said Faillace, who holds a doctorate in animal science. ''They've tried to beat us down every way possible. The USDA can destroy these sheep, but they can't destroy the truth.''

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 3/24/2001. Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), March 27, 2001

Answers

Please keep us posted on any direct news from this family!

-- Suzy in Bama (slgt@yahoo.com), March 27, 2001.

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