New Culling the Herd

What's going on between small, local farmers and the USDA?? Our film wants you to know!
Don Lewis
Email Verified
Petaluma, California
United States
1 Team Member

Hi! My name is Don Lewis and I’m an independent filmmaker from Northern California. I’ve spent almost my entire life in Petaluma, CA and my father was in the agriculture business as was his father before him. This entire town was once known as “Chickaluma” and “The World’s Egg Basket” because it was a chicken-farming town. While agriculture still thrives here, the poultry industry basically decimated Petaluma’s chicken farming population by introducing cheaper, less sustainable ways to raise chickens. Now our local beef farmers are under a similar threat. 
In February, 2014 the USDA shut down our local slaughter facility, the Rancho Feeding Corporation and recalled all the meat processed there dating back a year. Over 8 million pounds. While the reasons for the shut-down were valid, the recall of all meat was overreaching and unfair as local, small farmers raise and treat their animals in a completely different way than the cows and meat that was suspect. 

Still, these small, local ranchers were forced to destroy their beef at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollard. This is a documentary film centered around my hometown but the struggles local, organic, sustainable beef farmers go through is a Nationwide issue.

When I started making this film 6 months ago, I thought we'd be nearly done by August. However this story keeps unspooling and the plot thickens. Now more than ever this has become a story about small, local farmers across the USA trying to practice safe and sustainable methods of raising cattle only to run into countless obstacles along the way. 
We've been following this and other similar stories for months here's what's new:

  • After 6 months of silence from the USDA there was finally some indictments. 4 people, including the owners of Rancho were indicted for deceiving USDA officials. However, there's much more to this story and we have al the info!
  • 3 weeks ago a slaughterhouse serving several small, local farmers in upstate New York was shut down for a very strange reason. We need to get out there to tell this story.
  • Last week a slaughterhouse that provided sustainably raised, ethically treated meat in Madison, Wisconsin was forced to close it's doors for another odd and completely different reason. This story will also be featured in our film with your help!
  • We have uncovered a startling similarity between all the slaughterhouse forced into closure by the USDA. It is our intent to expose this issue.
This will be an amazing and important film. We can't do it without your help!

What We Need & What You Get

We need to raise money for some very simple and straightforward things...

  • We need to fly to Washington D.C. to interview USDA officials
  • We need to hire legal counsel for both the duration of the film and beyond. There are many nuances and coverups scattered throughout this story. A lawyer is a must.
  • We need to fly to upstate New York as well as Madison, Wisconsin to interview those affected by their local slaughterhouse being shut down.
  • I need to pay my amazing cameraman who has been working this story with me for no pay thus far
We have some AWESOME perks available and not only can you help bring this story to life, you can even get screen credit for helping us out!

Why this film is important and why we need your help...

There is mass disinformation and confusion about sustainable farming as it pertains to animals. Our film will help people understand what sustainability means in terms of raising animals as well as how important it is we have choices in our (extremely broken) food system.

Rather than use scare tactics or propaganda designed to push an agenda as most food documentaries do, ours will be a completely honest film that is being made to raise interest and make viewers think about the issues at hand. For instance...

  • What is sustainable and ethical farming?
  • Should humans be eating meat at all?
  • Is it ethical to kill animals to feed human beings? Is there such thing as "humane slaughter?"
  • What has happened to our food system in the U.S. and can it be fixed? If so, how?
These are just a few of the issue we intend to present to audiences.

The Road Traveled So Far...

Since the story of the Rancho recall 6 months ago, I've learned so much about the daunting and upsetting issues facing small, local farmers. The more I've discovered, the more upsetting the overreaching recall at Rancho becomes. This film has changed my life and the way I think about life and I think it can do the same for viewers once it's finished.

We've applied for grants as well as sponsorships and as of yet, none have materialized. Rather than just give up, I've decided to push even harder as I truly believe this is an important, impactful story that needs to get out in the world.

I've had great success on the film festival circuit as well as with distribution on every film I've made so far and I know that if we can just get enough people to donate and we can secure these last few interviews and a lawyer, this film will change lives.

Other Ways You Can Help

Please spread the word to anyone you can think of who shares an interest in these ideas.

  • We have a partnership with the San Francisco Film Society for TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS!(Contributions here are not tax deductible) 
  • Join our Facebook Page to help spread the word
  • Use the Indiegogo share tools!

Help us get on the road to tell this story!

raised in 1 month
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$10,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
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This campaign ended on October 12, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $2USD
    Ground Beef

    At the "Ground Beef" level you will receive an amazing compilation album of local, organic Sonoma and Marin County music. All natural music, just for supporters of our film! Album includes new tracks from five a.m., The Incubators, Sebastian Nau, David Luning (from American Idol!), Danny Sorentino, Pat Jordan, The New Trust and the Easy Leaves . (Digital download preferred)

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $15USD

    A 3 pack of awesome <a href="">Field Notes Brand</a> notebooks!! These notebooks are durable and fun and thanks so much to them for donating to our cause! You will also get the locals CD!

    0 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $25USD
    Beef Ribs

    Chip in $25 to our campaign and you will get... - a copy of our first documentary "Worst in Show!" - the CD of local artists -full color postcard from "Culling the Herd"

    0 out of 15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $50USD
    Flank Steak

    If you got our flank on this film, the $50 perk is for you! You will receive... -A "THANK YOU" in the film credits -A DVD of "Worst in Show" - the CD of local artists

    0 out of 15 claimed
  • $75USD
    New York Steak

    We have to get to New York....if a bunch of folks gave $75, we'd be there. For coming in at the $75 level you will receive... -A "THANK YOU" in the film credits -A DVD of THIS film when it's completed -A DVD of "Worst in Show" - the CD of local artists

    0 out of 10 claimed
  • $100USD
    Pot Roast

    Lagunitas has always been a HUGE support to me and other locals and this time out, it's no different. Behold, the Lag Swag Bag! Each bag will contain 2 mason jars, magnets, pens, stickers, coasters, a cap, t-shirt and poster. -Plus a "Special Thanks" in the film -Plus the DVD of this film and "Worst in Show" -PLUS the Local Artists CD

    1 out of 3 claimed
  • $175USD
    Steak Dinner

    No joke. For coming in at the $175.00 level, I'll provide you with 2 steaks of your choice (NY, T-Bone, Sirloin, etc.) from one of the local farms featured in our film. Plus, I'll add 2 fresh veggies from a local produce farm, a loaf of local bread AND a bottle of locally made wine! -Plus a "Special Thanks" in the film -Plus the DVD or this film and "Worst in Show" -PLUS the Local Artists CD

    0 out of 2 claimed
  • $300USD
    Top Sirloin

    For coming in at the $300 level, you get...ME. Yes, me. I will come to you and film and edit a video that you can keep and use. Got a business you want a YouTube video for? Done. Band need a video? Sure. Going to propose to your boy or girlfriend? I'll film it. Having a party? I'm there. (Locals only and no weddings please!) -Plus a "Special Thanks" in the film -Plus the DVD or this film and "Worst in Show" -PLUS the Local Artists CD

    0 out of 2 claimed
  • $500USD
    Prime Rib

    Ever wanted to be a big time Hollywood producer? Now, you can. For coming in with $500 I'll make you an Associate Producer on the film! Name on IMDB and the finished poster/DVD! -Plus the DVD of this film and "Worst in Show" -PLUS the Local Artists CD

    0 out of 2 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Filet Mignon

    So, "Associate Producer" isn't enough for you, eh? Well step on up to the big time! Two lucky contributors get to be Co-Producers on this film. Name on the poster/DVD/in the credits and on IMDB! We need help to get this film done and a huge help like this earns a screen credit. -Plus you get the DVD of this film and "Worst in Show" -PLUS the Local Artists CD

    0 out of 2 claimed
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