The crippling costs and ridiculous red tape forced on small organic-friendly farms tracked into a system designed for monoculture and volume have been well documented here and elsewhere — and more and more farmers are opting out, only to be prosecuted. A friend just sent me this thoroughly depressing article from a few weeks back on the mounting legal problems faced by small farmers across the country. This quote, from Joel Salatin (whose Polyface Farm had a starring role in The Omnivore’s Dilemma) gets at the nut of it:

“Bean and other farmers advocate unregulated direct sales of locally grown foods. ‘What we would like to see is an exemption from government intrusion in direct farmer-to-consumer food transactions,’ said Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm in nearby Swoope, a pioneer of the local food movement and author of ‘Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front.’ In other words, if you want to come to my farm, look and smell around, and make an informed decision to opt out of Wal-Mart, you should have the freedom to do so.'”