Judy Dollarhite said she and her husband settled a disagreement with the United States Department of Agriculture over a small rabbit business that garnered them almost $100,000 in fines.
The USDA fined the couple for selling rabbits without a USDA license, which the government said was needed.
The Dollarhites disagreed but quit selling the rabbits that began as a business lesson for their then teenage son. Judy Dollarhite said at no time were any rabbits ever mistreated or kept in less then humane conditions. In fact, she said, no one ever accused the couple of that. The bone of contention was a license.
The couple refused a previous agreement offered by the USDA because of the what they term unreasonable restrictions. This latest agreement eschews a fine and only stipulates that the Dollarhites may not apply for a USDA license for the next two years.
“We have a signed settlement with USDA,” said Judy Dollarhite in a Facebook post emailed to the Headliner News. “It isn't everything we had hoped for because there wasn't an apology included for all the nightmares we have endured these several months. There is no fine. They stipulated a two- year ban on obtaining a USDA license, which we never wanted, nor can I ever envision us wanting anything to do with USDA.”
The Dollarhites thanked several people for helping to bring the situation to a reasonable conclusion, including Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, U.S. Rep. Billy Long, local blogger Clay Bowler along with the print and broadcast press.
McCaskill released this statement Dec. 20 in the wake of the decision.
“I’m pleased this settlement will bring an end to a situation that defied common sense and plagued the Dollarhite family for months,” she said. “It was an outrageous overstep by a government agency. As an elected official and a Missourian, I could not stand by and allow the government to go after a family selling a small number of rabbits as pets. I commend John and Judy for their dogged determination to fight for their rights.”
The Dollarhites also testified several months ago in Washington when Texas Congressman Ron Paul held hearings on government abuse.