You will not believe this! Under the Obama era, FSIS inspectors enjoyed their enlarged obligations, including monitoring farms and facilities for any disrespectful chatter. They were told to report and uncover any such disclosures. The inspectors were trained to take corrective actions. They didn’t care about the company's First Amendment rights!
Don and Ellen Vander Boon are the owners of this family-owned West Michigan Beef Company.
The USDA threatened to shut down this farm, not because of health concerns, or because they were concerned about the treatment of the Animals. No, they didn’t threaten to shut down this farm because of the previous things I mentioned. Wait for it… They wanted to shut down this farm because of an article Don placed in the breakroom. Yes, an article.
In the breakroom at West Michigan Beef, there were tables that included magazines, newspapers, articles that the employees could read (if they wanted to) just like you would see at a Dr’s office.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled via Obergefell v. Hodges that tried to redefine marriage for the entire country. Numerous employees shared articles related to this decision. Don (owner of the Michigan farm) participated by sharing an article that gave a Christian view that God designed marriage as a union between a man and a woman and set forth reasons for that position.
A USDA public health worker/on-site inspector saw the article in the breakroom and freaked out! He got rid of the article and reported it to his USDA supervisor. The supervisor and inspector stormed into Don’s office and threatened to remove USDA inspectors and shut down his farm if Don did not state that the article was offensive under agency rules.
This ban on Don’s speech appears to have been established on the USDA’s “Anti-Harassment Policy Statement” issued in July 2015, which prohibits written or oral communications that USDA officials consider disrespectful or insult[ing] on the basis of sexual orientation.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled via Reed v. Town of Gilbert that the government has no authority to restrict expression because of its ideas, message, or content.
The USDA inspectors took no action that day in the breakroom.
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