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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. While this is a documentary film centered around my hometown, the struggles local, organic, sustainable beef farmers go through is a Nationwide issue.
On February 8, 2014 the United States Department of Agriculture issued a recall on all meat processed by the Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma, CA. Although over 85% of the meat had already been consumed without one single reported illness, the USDA still demanded the return and subsequent destruction of all Rancho processed meat and as of March 11, 2014 have still not publicly stated the cause or complaint that lead to the recall. This has caused major confusion to the public and unconscionable demands on the small local farming community.
The Rancho Feeding Corporation is the only slaughterhouse facility in the San Francisco Bay Area. If the Rancho closure stands, small local farmers who practice healthy, humane and sustainable agriculture will be forced to drive their cattle 4+ hours to facilities in either Modesto or Eureka to be processed. This will increase the cost to these farmers as well as stress the animals, thus harming the meat and will also increase the carbon footprint. In short, it will put unnecessary burdens on these farmers thus making the cost for their product go up and render many aspects of what they do, moot.
Yet the Rancho closing is just one of many daily and weekly challenges that face small farmers who strive to bring healthy, organic, sustainable meat from farm to table. Be it public misconception about their products to extremely stringent government guidelines (designed to favor larger corporate meat processors) as well as constant predator attacks and an impending drought, small farmers have their backs against the wall.
Our as yet untitled documentary is designed to not only increase public understanding of what sustainable, organic meat is all about but also visually show the challenges these small businessmen and women face each day. With more and more people concerned about where their food comes from, unfair government practices only add to the tough road these farmers must hoe each day to do the right thing by bringing a healthy product to American families. It is our hope this film will shed light on these issues and bring small, local sustainable beef farming challenges to the mainstream.
What We Need & What You Get
The funds raised through our Indie Go-Go Campaign are just to get us started. We chose Indie Go-Go because soon, there will be an option for people to receive a tax deduction for contributing to our film but since this is a community oriented film, we wanted to bring our needs to the community first. There’s some great perks for smaller donors and the flexibility for a more sizable donation as well.
All the money raised here will go towards getting this film made. That includes hiring skilled camera people, buying some new equipment (specifically a newer camera for day-to-day “on the fly” use and improving our sound equipment with an external recording device, a “shotgun mic” and windscreens since most of this film is being shot outdoors) as well as legal representation for the duration of our film. A story this huge absolutely must have a lawyer involved. We also need a full-time press person to help us spread the word about this project.
There’s also some travel expenses as we will be going to Chicago and Washington D.C. to interview experts on the meat industry as well as USDA and other representatives from the beef industry. Perhaps the biggest expense will be travel to film festivals once the film is completed. Plus the money raised will allow me the flexibility to donate my time and effort to this film 24/7. All your contributions, big and small, will help us reach our goal.
We have some really fun and awesome perks as well!! 15 local, Sonoma and Marin County artists have each donated a song that you will get on a digital download for a small contribution. Popular locals like David Luning (from American Idol!), Danny Sorentino, Pat Jordan, The New Trust and the Easy Leaves have kicked in a song and we even got some brand new, never before heard songs from The Incubators, Sebastian Nau and five a.m.!
We also got a killer Lag Swag Bag from Lagunitas Brewing Company, a gift pack of amazing “Field Notes” brand notebooks and a steak dinner complete with wine, all from local sustainable farmers and wineries. Plus the usual perks like DVD’s, “Thank You” credits and there’s even some producer positions available for you big shots. All the details are below.
This is an important film about big government versus small business. It’s also about healthy eating and sustainable farming that is not only better for people, it’s better for the environment. We made a film called “Worst in Show” a few years back and it turned out really great. But, we ended up cutting a lot of corners due to an extremely limited budget and even more limited time. The story we’re looking to tell in this film cannot be short-changed.
While there are many, many popular food documentaries out there, no one has really covered the challenges that face beef farmers. I have the talent, skills, connections and drive to make this film happen and to get it seen. It’s not only a frustrating situation facing these small farmers, but there’s also a real lack of knowledge in terms of what organic, sustainable beef farming is all about. Our film can help educate as well as try to affect a change in the way the federal government treats small farmers.
Other Ways You Can Help
You can help make this film happen by donating to our cause.
Honestly, no amount is too small. But if you’re not in a financial situation
where you can do so, spreading the word is an amazing next step. My fellow
filmmakers know how important word of mouth is so any and all help is
appreciated. But this is a film for everyone! Maybe you know someone passionate
about farming or sustainable living? Please let them know about our film. If
you use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, let us know and we can send
you graphics and videos to post. Heck, just post the link to our Indie Go-Go
page to your social media! There's even a handy link right here in Indie Go-Go, point, click, done.
Thanks for reading this and believe me when I say, this is an important film about the struggles small farmers face to bring their best food farm to table. This will be an incredible film, we just need a chance to make it.