USDA fines family $90,000 for selling bunny rabbits?

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USDA fines family $90,000 for selling bunny rabbits?

wetone123 wetone123
When the Dollarhite family of Nixa, Mo., first started raising and selling bunnies as part of a lesson to teach their teenage son about responsibility and hard work, they had no idea they would eventually meet the heavy hand of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA recently ordered the Dollarhite family to pay more than $90,000 in fines because they sold more than $500 worth of rabbits in a year -- and if they fail to pay the fine by Monday, May 23, the fine will multiply to nearly $4 million.

It all started back in 2006 when John Dollarhite and his wife Judy rescued two rabbits that ended up breeding. The family cared for and raised the new rabbits, and eventually began to sell them to neighbors, friends, and others for $10 or $15 each. Having started by first selling the animals for meat, and later for show, the Dollarhites carefully and humanely raised the small creatures on their three-acre homestead, all while teaching their son honest values in a business environment similar to running a small lemonade stand.

Eventually, the Dollarhites developed such a highly-respected reputation across Missouri that the popular Branson, Mo., theme park Silver Dollar City, and even a local pet store, Petland, began purchasing bunnies from the family in 2009. And according to John, individuals from both Silver Dollar City and Petland, as well as a rabbit competition judge, told him that the family's bunnies were among the best they had ever seen -- healthy, beautiful, and very well-cared for.

All seemed well until a USDA inspector showed up at the family's home in the fall of 2009, and asked to do a "spot inspection" of the rabbitry. The inspector made no indication that anything was amiss, but only that she wished to see the facility. After meandering the premises, the inspector claimed that a few very insignificant aspects of the raising facility were in violation of USDA standards, even though the Dollarhites were not USDA certified, nor were they required to be. She then asked if the Dollarhites wished to be part of the voluntary USDA certification system, upon which they told her they would look into it.

After the inspector left, the Dollarhites heard nothing more from the USDA until January 2010 when a Kansas City-based USDA inspector called the family and said he needed to have a meeting with them because they sold more than $500 worth of rabbits in a single year. When the Dollarhites asked why this was a problem and what law this violated, the man refused to offer an explanation over the phone.

Upon meeting in person, the inspector said he was only there to investigate the rabbitry and take notes for a report, upon which he instructed the family to contact another USDA office if they failed to hear anything further from the USDA after six weeks. As the eighth week arrived without any communication, John called the office and was redirected to the Washington, DC, office where a lady shockingly and bluntly explained to him that she had his report, and that the USDA planned to prosecute him and his family "to the maximum that we can" in order to "make an example" out of him.

Shortly thereafter, the Dollarhites received a letter from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) ordering them to pay a fine of $90,643 for supposedly violating a mystery law that prohibits the selling of more then $500 in rabbits within a year, even though the Dollarhites were in full accordance with Missouri state law, did not sell their rabbits across state lines, and raised their rabbits humanely and in excess of minimum requirements. The letter outlined that the Dollarhites had until May 23 to pay the exorbitant fine, or else face additional fines totaling nearly $4 million -- all for selling about $4,600 worth of rabbits that netted the family a mere $200 in profits.

The whole scenario proves, once again, that the USDA is nothing more than a tag-team terrorist duo with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both agencies' insatiable lust for power and control over private affairs is never satisfied, as they continue to prowl around like bloodthirsty predators seeking whoever and whatever they can devour. When will Americans finally stand up to their tyranny and say enough is enough?



If you would like to contact the APHIS division of the USDA responsible for this mess and express your thoughts on the matter, write, call, or email:

USDA/APHIS/AC
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
ace@aphis.usda.gov
(301) 734-4978
05/22/2011
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kelaaa33wish kelaaa33wish
That is terrible. Trying to teach young kids these days to be and get kicked in the balls like that just is wrong.
05/22/2011
married with children married with children
another example of our government forcing their hands into business they should not be in.
05/23/2011
Naughty Student Naughty Student
Wow, that is really frstrating. I hope things will be positive for their family and that they will not have to pay the fine.

You might want to send this to the HRS (House Rabbit Society) they might be interested in hearing about this if they haven't already.
05/23/2011
alliegator alliegator
I think the USDA provides an important service to this country and is not some troll of evil big government, but it sounds like in this instance it screwed up big time.
05/23/2011
wetone123 wetone123
Quote:
Originally posted by alliegator
I think the USDA provides an important service to this country and is not some troll of evil big government, but it sounds like in this instance it screwed up big time.
alliegator, do some research on the USDA and get back with me on why they are arresting Mormons and taking away Mormon farms because of no--- not selling raw milk, but using the trade and barter system with their neighbors using good, growth hormone free and wholesome milk to maybe get a bushel of corn or beans in exchange...

Or how they are in league with Monsanto to take away the American fruit and vegetable farmlands away from American farmers who do not comply with GMO veggies and seeds. Frankenfood! Ugh!

See if you can come up with 100's of facts like these perpetrated on and against American citizens. You could. And that is a fact.

But also a lot of research. No, just see if you can find enough of these facts to put doubt in the confidence you have in the USDA and their plans for the food you eat everyday... If you can't please let me know that also. Peace and good health to you
05/23/2011
wetone123 wetone123
Quote:
Originally posted by Naughty Student
Wow, that is really frstrating. I hope things will be positive for their family and that they will not have to pay the fine.

You might want to send this to the HRS (House Rabbit Society) they might be interested in hearing about this if they ...
Thats a great idea Naughty Student! I contacted them by email after your suggestion. Thanks!
05/23/2011
GravyCakes GravyCakes
this may be 1 of the most fucked up things i've ever heard.
05/23/2011
Petite Valentine Petite Valentine
This is unconscionable. Has the family contacted the local media/their congressional representative/state senator?
05/24/2011
wetone123 wetone123
UPDATE:

As it turns out, John and Judy Dollarhite, Nixa, may not be expected to satisfy a $90,000 settlement agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture for breeding and selling rabbits without a license.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill intervened on the couple’s behalf last week.

“I tried to intervene,” McCaskill said in a telephone interview May 27. “We got busy and the USDA agreed to back off the ridiculous $90,000 fine. They have not committed to what that dollar amount would be.”

A protest at Ozark’s USDA office brought out about 30 people supporting the Dollarhites. But the situation had to come to McCaskill’s attention before that.

The Dollarhites notified the senator’s office by email May 20 of the situation. Before staff apprised McCaskill of the predicament, she had already read it in a newspaper report.

“I honestly read it in the paper, not knowing they had contacted my office already,” she said.

McCaskill was candid when responding to the amount of the penalty.

“This is ridiculous,” she said. “This is the kind of thing that makes your head blow off—that the federal government was so out of touch.”

USDA spokesman David Sacks confirmed May 27 that the department has notified by mail the Dollarhites with an alternative settlement proposal, but was not at liberty to share the details until the Dollarhites confirm receipt of the notification.

As of press time, John Dollarhite said he hasn’t received any word from the USDA.

“We don’t know a thing,” Dollarhite said May 29. “ We were told that USDA was going to do something by the end of the week. We have nothing at this time.”

But Dollarhite said he is hopeful that with McCaskill’s intervention, the situation will resolve.

“I am impressed that McCaskill has taken this by the reins,” he said. “I am waiting for (Rep.) Billy Long and (Sen.) Roy Blunt to do kind of the same thing.”

Dollarhite said he appreciated McCaskill contacting his family personally.

“She contacted my wife directly,” he said. “(McCaskill) said the first time she read (the story) in the newspaper her head about exploded.”

And McCaskill said she hopes the USDA uses some common sense.
06/18/2011
wetone123 wetone123
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:

The United States Department of Agriculture has made Nixa’s John and Judy Dollarhite an alternative offer in lieu of paying nearly $100,000 in penalties for selling rabbits without a license.

According to a letter addressed to Dollarhite in care of his attorney, Richard Anderson, the USDA would drop the penalties if Dollarhite agrees to permanently disqualify himself from ever obtaining a license to breed the regulated animals.

In part the letter reads:

“To be eligible to enter such an agreement, you must complete the following steps by no later than July 11, 2011:

1) Sell or donate, and transfer physical possession and ownership of your breeding animals, and spay or neuter those animals you intend to keep.

2) Arrange for an inspection to verify the disposition of the animals.

3) Furnish to Animal Care’s Western Region Office ...any records requested to verify the disposition of the animals.”

Dollarhite said June 3 he had not seen an agreement in writing yet and there was no deal.

“Nothing in writing yet—it sounds like they are wanting to meet at my premises,” he said.

He said he would respond to queries once there is an agreement.

USDA spokesman David Sacks said the same thing.

“This is an ongoing case,” Sacks said in an email June 6. “And there has been no settlement made.”
06/18/2011
Bunnycups Bunnycups
Quote:
Originally posted by wetone123
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:

The United States Department of Agriculture has made Nixa’s John and Judy Dollarhite an alternative offer in lieu of paying nearly $100,000 in penalties for selling rabbits without a license.

According to a letter ...
That seems fair. This is what they should have done in the first place.
06/18/2011
KnK KnK
Quote:
Originally posted by wetone123
When the Dollarhite family of Nixa, Mo., first started raising and selling bunnies as part of a lesson to teach their teenage son about responsibility and hard work, they had no idea they would eventually meet the heavy hand of the US Department of ...
WTF?!?!?! Why am I not surprised. Access to the law is so fucking stupid and it's damn near impossible to find out about the laws even if you look on the government site or other legal sites.
06/18/2011
Bullfanch Bullfanch
What a joke! Punish those that are breeding safely and respectfully, not harming animals or producing unwanted bunnies that aren't cared for... Seems like a bit of an overreaction.
06/18/2011
LilLostLenore LilLostLenore
awww bunnies i love them.
10/30/2011
Total posts: 15
Unique posters: 11