Virginia Bureaucrats Have a Fallow Deer Problem
In addition to the 1000 Pennsylvania venison farms, many using fallow deer, there are 20 such farms in Maryland, 60 in West Virginia, 70 in North Carolina, 55 in Kentucky, and 75 in Tennessee.
Producing healthy food, often on smaller and otherwise unusable acreages, is not only an agricultural necessity but a great way to for Virginians to compete and prosper in the national and global marketplace. The obvious question is how many fallow deer farms do we have in Virginia?
And the answer is … wait for it… just one.
Deauville Farms in Bryce, managed by Gail Rose, is the sole fallow deer farm in Virginia, “grandfathered” by the state regulators when Virginia decided fallow deer were a Fish and Game concern, rather than a Department of Agriculture concern. She can’t sell breeding stock in Virginia because Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries declare fallow deer to be wild, and keeping wild deer in Virginia is illegal, subject to state fines and other punishment.
Fallow deer have been domesticated and farmed since the 9th Century B.C. Their recent farming history in the United States can be traced to German farmers who sought an alternative and more profitable land use. Perhaps more importantly, fallow deer naturally resist disease and parasites, including chronic wasting disease.
Every one of Virginia’s neighboring states farm fallow deer, profitably and efficiently. The Federal Department of Agriculture – itself a monstrosity of regulation, subsidy and waste and more regulation – promotes fallow deer production. The problem seems to be mission creep and bullheadedness on the part of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The DGIF website specifically says there is no evidence of CWD or other disease concerns with domesticated fallow deer, but nonetheless, DGIF believes that deer are deer, and they must regulate.
Beyond that, they also believe they must kill and destroy, as they did ten fallow deer that belonged to Stanley Holmes of Chesterfield on March 14, 2011.
Virginians expect and condemn this kind of bureaucratic and anti-free market idiocy at the federal level. In this case, the problem is Richmond’s own rules, disconnected from reality and averse to freedom for Virginia’s farmers. In this economy, with a long, slow recovery to economic prosperity predicted, this Virginian has an easy question for Richmond’s “No Fallow Deer” bureaucrats. What planet are you from?
Virginia’s farmers and producers deserve the right to farm fallow deer.
Karen Kwiatkowski is a family farmer in Shenandoah County.
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