Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread Statement of the Precautionary Principle.

January 2002 to June 2003 | July 2003 to September 2003 | October 2003 to Present

Barrier Valley


Sask. hog company seeks creditor protection

Click to visit story

CBC News
Saskatchewan's largest hog producer has applied for creditor protection.

Big Sky Farms Inc. of Humboldt said Tuesday it had applied for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

The company primarily blames the downturn in the North American pork market, but says there are other factors as well.

The H1N1 swine flu pandemic has led to fewer people buying pork, but Big Sky has also been hurt by the rising Canadian dollar and American trade barriers, company officials said.

"While today's actions are difficult, they will, in the long term serve the varied interests of our many stakeholders, including our dedicated employees, by making the company healthier overall," president and CEO Casey Smit said in a news release.

The company said it operates about 40 hog facilities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, employing more than 400 people.

Big Sky will continue normal operations while it is under court-ordered protection and all employees will remain on the job, Smit said.

He also said the company will be reorganizing so it can access federal government loan programs.

----SNIP -----

The changes at Big Sky may also represent bad news for the Saskatchewan taxpayer. The province has invested $30 million in the company and owns 63 per cent.

Saskatchewan government officials confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that the province's equity is now at risk.

Where is the PRECAUTION in Intensive Livestock Operations? 
June 9, 2004

The Beyond Factory Farming Coalition is a national organization which is helping to bring together citizens in the struggle against Intensive Livestock Operations, or, as some call them, factory ‘farms’.  In our definition of farming, we promote livestock production that supports food sovereignty, ecological, human and animal health, local sustainability, community viability, and informed citizen/consumer choice. 

We see hog factories as part of the meat processing industry, intensely lobbied for and driven by the industry’s corporations, promoted and funded by all levels of government, and regulated and taxed as ‘farming”.  We maintain that this is NOT farming but an industry that happens to produce pork.  It should be officially defined, impartially regulated, and appropriately taxed as an industry – not farming, with no government funding.

In the late 1980s, Wendell Murphy, a North Carolina State Senator, along with his partners, Smithfield Slaughterhouses, helped invent a new way to produce pork.  Thousands of genetically-enhanced hogs would be crammed into pens and tiny cages in giant warehouses, suspended on slatted cement floors over a pit, continuously dosed with sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics and force-fed growth enhancers from imported feeds.  Their toxic waste would be dumped, sprayed, spilled and discharged onto adjacent landscapes and waterways.  The mega hog factory was born.   

The goal of hog factories is to produce the largest animals in the shortest amount of time in the smallest amount of space at the lowest possible cost.  In the process, many problems arise:  they use huge amounts of our precious water; they produce volumes of toxic manure; the toxic fumes emitted from this manure pollute the air for animals and workers in the barns, and destroys the lifestyle of neighbours; our waterways become polluted by pathogens and drugs in the waste; they rip communities apart as people are forced to take sides in the issue; they devalue neighbouring property; they compromise the ability of a community to pursue other viable forms of economic development such as tourism and small business; they give false hopes of jobs which, once construction is over, turn out to be menial, meaningless and dangerous ones; and the list goes on.

Manure is one of the greatest problems with hog factories - its makeup, the massive amount produced, and the inexpensive way in which it is disposed.  Since hogs produce about 4 times the waste of humans, a 5000-sow operation producing 2,400 piglets per week, 52 weeks per year will produce the waste of about 500,000 people!  Every year, less what the animals drink, 50-55 million gallons of your drinking water is used to flush this manure out the barns, ending up as 40 million gallons of liquid manure.  After being stored for a year in a “lagoon” – an open, clay-bottomed hole in the earth the size of 2 football fields - beside the barns, and what doesn’t evaporate or seep into the surrounding earth, is spread, raw and untreated, onto adjacent fields by dragging a big hose behind a tractor.  When this slurry is spread onto pastureland, grazing cattle, wildlife, and birds can ingest pathogens and parasite eggs from it or spread them around the countryside.  In 1988, the World Health Organization identified liquid manure spreading as a critical pathway by which Salmonellae and other pathogens are spread to the natural environment.  Over time, any nearby aquifer will become polluted and it will take nature hundreds of years to cleanse and recharge it. (Note:  hog factory owners are not required to post a “Polluter Pay” cleanup bond before receiving their operating permit.  When there’s a spill or when the site is abandoned after 15 to 20 years of operation, the area residents are left to clean up the mess.)

There are over 150 compounds in hog manure, many of them carcinogenic.  A short list of the makeup of this slurry (which is 30 times more toxic than that of raw human waste) might look something like this:  water, hog urine and feces, human waste, hog carcasses, cleaning chemicals, insecticides, weed seeds, volatile organic compounds, salts, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and manganese (common in all manures), heavy metals such as cadmium, zinc, and copper as growth hormones, vaccines, antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, parasites, and other bacterial and viral pathogens such as the now familiar Cryptosporidium, Salmonella and E-coli.   

In amounts that are easily taken up by plants, nitrogen and phosphorus are important soil nutrients that contribute to the healthy growth of crops.  In excess, they create pollution and health problems.  A high nitrate content in drinking water may cause “Blue Baby Disease” leading to developmental deficiencies and, in severe cases, death.  Applying liquid manure in excess of a crop’s phosphorus requirements results in a build-up of soil phosphorus contributing to algae proliferation, death of fish, and surface water degradation.

Also, trace amounts of disease-causing heavy metals (copper, zinc, cadmium, nickel, lead, iron, manganese and boron) are added to hog food to promote growth and prevent disease.  These elements can pass through the animals, accumulate, and settle to the bottom of the manure lagoons until the manure is applied to the soil, accidentally spilled, or the site is abandoned.  The cumulative build-up of these compounds, which have a greater toxic potential on grassland than on crops, can irreversibly damage the fertility of soil and poison grazing animals.   

Of the greatest concern in this issue is the constant use and over-use of antibiotics.  To increase the growth efficiency of the animals’ feed and to simply keep them alive under the unnatural confined living conditions, the animals receive low levels of antibiotics virtually their whole lives.  (Note:  Canadian agriculture uses 11 million pounds of antibiotics a year compared to 3 million pounds a year used by humans.)  The most common of these are tetracycline, penicillin derivatives, streptomycin, neomycin and sulphur derivatives – all used by humans.  This long-term use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria in the animals’ gut, “superbugs” which, along with traces of the antibiotics, pass through the animal into the manure and on into soil and water when spread on the surrounding fields.  If these superbugs are making you sick, the search for an effective antibiotic to make you well would quickly become a critical issue. 

There is worldwide recognition of the urgent need to ban the overuse of antibiotics and protect the ones that are still effective.  The recommendation made by the World Health Organization in 2000 was for the “termination or rapid phasing-out of the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion if they are also used for treatment of humans…”

Furthermore, the major North American health organizations, representing thousands of trained medical professionals who understand the enormous implications of this ‘ticking bomb’ and have, for years, been urging that precautionary measures be taken against this industry: 

  • In 2000, the Canadian Public Health Association called for “the provinces to enact legislation that protects the public’s health from the negative impacts of intensive livestock operations”

  • In 2001, the American Medical Association passed Resolution 508 stating in effect that they oppose the use of antimicrobials at non-therapeutic levels in agriculture and urge that non-therapeutic use in animals of antimicrobials (that are also used in humans) should be terminated or phased out based on scientifically sound risk assessments

  • In 2002, the Canadian Medical Association called for “a moratorium on the expansion of the hog industry until scientific data on the attendant health risks are known”

  • In 2003, the American Public Health Association issued a resolution “urging federal, state and local government health agencies to impose a precautionary moratorium on all new…factory farms – and to initiate and support further research on the health impacts of air and water pollution from such operations”

Independent Environmental Impact Assessments are not required before an ILO is given an operating permit.  Beyond Factory Farming maintains that without this information, there is no way we can predict what the long-term effects of this activity will be on the environment or on our health, now or in the future.  In the meantime, we are being exploited for our precious water like a third world colony, the money goes into the pockets of very few people, most of whom live off the ILO sites, outside the province, or even outside the country, and the communities are forced to live with the mess!

Government and the industry continue to ignore viable alternative methods of raising hogs - industry claims that these methods would cut into their profit.  Beyond Factory Farming, however, supports and promotes these alternatives which would: 

  • provide humane living conditions for the animals in hoop/Quonset barns which can be opened to fresh air and sunshine;

  • use open stalls with deep straw bedding where the animals can move about and socialize naturally.  Hogs do not normally manure their sleeping or eating areas;

  • replace the liquid manure lagoons with composting methods which use very little water, effectively destroy any pathogens in the manure, don’t pollute the air, water and soil, and produce a profitable form of fertilizer;

  • abolish the 2’ x 7’ stalls where the sows spend their entire lives, lying in their own waste, and forced into repeated pregnancies until their production goes down, at which time they are slaughtered;

  • keep piglets with the mother until they are naturally weaned and  have developed their immune systems naturally; and finally, 

  • stop the continuous administration of subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics or growth hormones.  Antibiotics would be used only if the animal is sick.

All Canadians are part of the ‘risk assessment’ and ‘risk management’ experiment of doing modern business.  These terms, used by Health Canada, Environment Canada, the Saskatchewan government, and others, belong to the old way of making decisions.  It asks: “how much harm can we get away with, how many waterways can be destroyed, and how many people can get sick or die?” before there is public outcry or a disaster.  The old way assumes that people and corporations have the right to do anything they choose (so long as it is legal) until an injured party can prove that harm has occurred.  Then come the decades of legal wrangling, million-dollar settlement payouts, and escalating health costs to treat people who have needlessly become ill.

There is a newer precautionary approach being used in many parts of the world to make decisions about the environment and our health that we will not regret in 50 years.  This Precautionary Principle is essentially a rule about how to manage risks when one does not have fully reliable knowledge about the identity, character, or magnitude of those risks.  It is focussed on preventing harm - has anyone found less harmful alternatives? - how much harm is avoidable?” – do we know enough to act to prevent harm?.  It also puts the burden of proof onto the proponent of producing information to show that the activity is less harmful than was initially assumed.  This Precautionary Principle, if applied and combined with a Polluter Pays ‘assurance’ bond, could also give the proponent powerful financial incentives to reduce the worst case damages by, for example, adopting intrinsically safe alternatives.

Is precaution being applied in the intensive hog production industry?    Unfortunately, we don’t believe there is any.    Where is precaution being applied in the present operating rules and regulations?  Why, when viable alternatives exist and in view of numerous informed calls for a halt to the expansion of hog factories, does the government insist on placing our natural systems and our health at risk?  Is permitting expansion of this activity acting with due diligence?  Who will be held accountable for harm to our future health and well-being?  What are we waiting for? 

While we wait for the answers to these questions, Beyond Factory Farming will continue to inform the public and government about our concerns.  We will continue urging government to acknowledge that the current method of hog production is not sustainable and that changes must be made in how we produce our food.  And, we will continue to encourage them to put precaution and common sense in place which will protect our life-supporting ecosystem and our health, now and for future generations. 

Elaine Hughes
Stop the Hogs Coalition
Archerwill, SK
June 9, 2004

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RM of Barrier Valley News
The Wadena News
March 31, 2004

Barrier RM tables hog barn discussions

Hog barn development in the RM of Barrier Valley has been tabled.  The decision was made during a regular meeting held in Archerwill on Thursday, March 11.

Newly elected councilor Rick Tremblay is now officially representing division five.  During the meeting, all the necessary documents were signed and a motion made acknowledging the process.

The RM has agreed to contribute $700 to the local regional library.  The money will be used to computerize the facility.

Council will recommend that an agricultural subdivision located NW 08-40-13 W2 be given approval.

The municipality will opt out of the Provincial Spring Road Restriction Program for 2004.

The next regular meeting of council will be held April 8.

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RM of Barrier Valley News
The Wadena News
October 1, 2003

The RM of Barrier Valley is seeking nominations of candidates for councilors to serve in four of its six divisions.  Representatives are needed in divisions 2, 4, 5 and 6, with the even numbered divisions offering two-year positions as part of the normal election process.  The seat for division five is open following the resignation of Lynn Gruending - the successful candidate will be required to serve for a period of one year.

Barrier Valley RM council made the provisions for this year's nomination period during a regular meeting held Sept. 16.  Nominations will be received until Monday, Oct. 20 at 3 pm.  Nomination forms are available at the municipal office.

The Stop the Hogs Coalition presented council with a petition signed by 378 ratepayers asking that the municipality arrange a democratic vote by secret ballot regarding the establishment of an intensive hog operation in the Archerwill area.  The signatures represent 60 percent of the population of the municipality - the only motion made regarding the petition acknowledges its receipt.

In other hog barn related matters council has made a decision not to allow any intensive hog operations to establish within three miles of residences located within the municipality.  The motion does include a clause, however, that allows the owner of the residence to consent in writing to waive the restrictions.

Administrator Fern Lucas has been given permission to proceed with tax enforcement against a couple of properties within the RM.  One property owner will receive a final 30-day notice.  The RM will apply to the Provincial Mediation Board for permission to make final application for title on the other.

Reeve Quentin Hanson and Lucas were authorized to sign a public utility easement to grant the RM exclusive easement over, across, under and through a portion of NW 30-41-14-W2.  The easement applies to a roadway, which was transferred to another party.

The next meeting of the RM of Barrier Valley will be held on October 9.

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Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley
As Recorded by the RM 
October 9, 2003

Reeve: Quentin Hanson; 
Councilors: Brad Cramer, Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, Dennis Brown and Wayne Jones;
Administrator: Fern Lucas

Councilor Lynn Gruending.

Call To Order:
Reeve Hanson called the meeting to order at 9:05 am


Thompson: That the minutes of the regular meeting of council held in the municipal office in Archerwill on September 16, 2003 be approved.

Statement of Receipts & Payments

Brown: That the Statement of Receipts and Payments for the month of September 2003 be accepted as presented.


Brown: That the accounts, as listed and attached to, and forming part of these minutes, in amount of $69,730.96 covered by cheque numbers 2576-2613 inclusive be approved for payment.

9:00 am
Garry Schweitzer re work projects and progress update.

10:00 am
Stop the Hogs Coalition member Elaine Hughes re the following issues: decision on the petition presented to council on September 18, 2003 asking for a democratic vote on the establishment of an intensive hog operation in this area; Section 45 of the Rural Municipality Act to declaration of a pecuniary interest; request to look into the future and protect resources for future generations.

10:00 AM
Ida Lumberjack re concerns about the proposed intensive hog operation polluting the river system and the lands of the Kinistin reserve.

Application to Subdivide

Jones: That we approve the application to subdivide NW 15-42-14 W2 for wildlife habitat.

RMAA Div. Meeting

Cramer: That the Administrator be authorized to attend the division 4 Rural Municipal Administrators Association meeting to be held in Kelvington, Saskatchewan on Thursday, October 23, 2003.

Tax Enforcement

Jones: That the List of Lands with Arrears of Taxes as presented to council by the administrator, be acknowledged and that the Tax Enforcement list be published in the local newspapers.

Jones: That the administrator be instructed to proceed with the tax enforcement procedures as stipulated on the list of lands with arrears of taxes, said list being attached to and forming part of these minutes.

Vacation Days

Jones: That the administrator be granted vacation days November 17-20, 2003 and that the office be closed for those days.

Submission Financing Education K-12

Braaten: That two representatives on behalf of the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley No. 397 be authorized to attend an invitation symposium regarding the financing of education from K-Grade 12 to be held in Regina on October 29 and 30, 2003.


Braaten: That the correspondence, as listed and attached to and forming part of these minutes, having been copied and distributed, now be filed.


Braaten: That this meeting adjourn at 4:00 pm.  The next regular meeting of council to be November 13, 2003.

Correspondence as Copied and Distributed to Council
October 9, 2003

  • Joe and Janice Martin re appreciation to the RM's maintenance personnel for upkeep and maintenance of roads.
  • A petition received by mail signed by 10 concerned people who lease lots year round at Barrier Lake opposing the proposed Hog Operation.
  • SARM updated.
  • Copies of an article titled "Should we Fear the Factory Farm?" submitted via email by Elaine Hughes.

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Stop the Hogs Coalition Meeting with RM Council
October 9, 2003

A delegation from Stop the Hogs Coalition met briefly with the Council at the regular RM meeting on October 9, 2003.

In the Coalition’s ongoing attempts to settle the matter of conflict of interest of the two RM Councillors whose names also appear on the North East Hogs’ brochure as Committee members, Coalition Spokesperson, Elaine Hughes referred to the RM Regulations.  She pointed out that Section 45 of the Regulations indicates that voters have three years after the commission of the alleged offence to apply to a judge for a determination of the question of whether a Councillor has contravened the section on Declaration of Pecuniary Interest.  Section 45 also sets out what the possible judgment against the Councillor may be if the contravention has resulted in personal financial gain. 

The Council claims that there are numerous people in the RM who are in favour of the pig barns.  So that we would know exactly the number of people they are talking about, Ms Hughes requested that Council provide them with a list of names of all of these supposed hog barn supporters.  Reeve Hanson stated that it wasn’t about to provide the delegation with such a list, claiming they had no such list, and that if Stop the Hogs Coalition wanted a list, we could get it ourselves!  

Ms Ida Lumberjack, Economic Development Officer from Kinistin First Nations, questioned why the RM would want to put a big hog operation into an area that had so many streams, rivers, and lakes with resorts on them.  She also stated that if there was anything such as a mega hog barn in the area that  would threaten their sources of drinking water, they wanted to know about it.  Reeve Hanson assured her that they would have ample opportunity to voice their concerns! 

The delegation from Stop the Hogs Coalition then asked the Council for their decision on whether they are going to honour the Coalition’s Petition signed by 60% of the eligible voters in the RM and give us a vote on the mega hog barn issue.   Reeve Hanson stated that they had made no decision.  When asked why not, he replied:  “we are still gathering information” and “we don’t know what the wording on the ballot should be”.  When asked when they would have their decision, Councillor Brown stated, “we’re going to let the election (of new Councillors?) make the decision on the Petition!”

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North East Hogs And Stop The Hogs Meet On Common Ground
Parkland Review
October 9, 2003

Though there were some tense moments during the North East Hogs meeting at the Archerwill Community Hall on October 9, the forum provided the first opportunity for those on both sides of the hog barn debate to meet in person, engage in a direct conversation, air their differences and identify common ground, since the proposal for a Big Sky Farms 5000-sow hog barn was put to the public at information meetings six months ago.

Approximately 35 people from the North East Hogs Committee, RM of Barrier Valley Council and Stop the Hogs Coalition met to discuss the status of the project and to learn about a new development in the hog industry, the biodigester system that processes organic waste into water, heat and the green power that SaskPower has committed to purchasing for the provincial power grid.

While North East Hogs has not been actively searching for barn sites nor met formally since last spring, the Stop the Hogs Coalition has been actively seeking support for its cause by hosting information meetings and canvassing ratepayers to petition a vote on the issue. The members have been successful in obtaining the signatures of 60 per cent of the ratepayers, the number set by the RM council in order for it  to consider facilitating a vote on the matter.

The petition was presented to council at its September meeting and Stop the Hogs proponents had been hopeful that council’s decision would be forthcoming at its regular October meeting held earlier in the day so that a democratic vote could be held in conjunction with the upcoming municipal election.

But the question of the vote has proven to be one that council is not prepared to take lightly.

“When they presented the petition, I didn’t think it would be this difficult to decide on the matter, but we are still not comfortable with making a decision until we have all the information and have done all we can,” Reeve Quinton Hanson said following the meeting.  “There are two sides out there; those who are against, we hear from, but those who are for it, we don’t hear from, so we have been talking to people to get the feelings out there and there really is so much variance.”

The RM council is considering the issue strictly from an economic development perspective and feels that it is incumbent upon the councillors to make the decision, based not on their personal opinion or for the good of a few, but for the good of all.

Some frustration was expressed by Stop the Hogs members about the RM council taking issue with holding a vote when 60 per cent of the ratepayers have said they want one, but Reeve Hanson said that the vote concept is not that simple.  He has asked the coalition to attend council’s November 13 meeting to discuss the wording of any such ballot should a vote be arranged.  Additionally, he has asked the coalition for input into wording of the municipal bylaw that would govern hog barn development in the area.

He put the question of the question to the meeting, explaining that consideration must be given to future implications of the result of the proposed vote.  Should it be specific to Big Sky Farms or apply to all corporate hog barn developments, and in turn could that come to bear on family farms?  If it addressed intensive livestock operations only, would that then apply to all such operations regardless of the what was produced?  Underlying the matter of voting on any one specific project is the precedent it would set for future economic development proposals, which may be thwarted if decisions on each must be reached by secret ballot.

“I trust the regulations in place for this process and I would like to see it work like it should, where the committee would identify possible sites, talk to the people in the surrounding district, then allow the 45-day period so people can express their objections,” Reeve Hanson explained, adding that even if the project was not approved in the end they would be comfortable with the decision knowing that due process had been followed.

Part of that process involves informing the public about the project, a task that NE Hogs Chairperson Roger Armstrong feels his committee has handled well.  However, the Stop the Hogs members took exception to his comment, stating that if it hadn’t been for their legwork canvassing residents in the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake, people wouldn’t have known about it.  First advertised as an information meeting, and poorly at that, they maintain that many residents were unaware of the initial meetings in April or that a vote would be taken at that time.  They pointed again to the Wadena newspaper report that those meetings had given the project a green light to proceed.

“You’re working in isolation.  The process has not been straight forward,” stated Isabelle Muzichuk, a Concerned Citizen for a Safe and Healthy Environment, from Buchanan.

“Since April, we haven’t done any searching or testing for sites because we’ve been waiting for dialogue to go on,” explained Doug Hay, the director for economic development with the umbrella organization, Kelsey Rural Development Corporation.  “We’ve been receptive to ideas, but we probably should have played a more active role in providing information.”

He and Armstrong made a commitment to provide information related to the hog barn development directly to the coalition in a more timely fashion, but they did not agree to put the project on hold, if and when Big Sky Farms indicates interest in proceeding, until all avenues, such as the biodigester system, had been investigated.

“Sure, we can try other projects that everyone agrees on, but that doesn’t mean we give up on this one. We think this is a viable project and we will try to address the issues,” Armstrong commented, to which Hay added that valid concerns had been raised by the Stop the Hogs Coalition, good lessons learned from the experiences of other communities that shouldn’t be ignored, but ones for which the committee is willing to investigate solutions.

There is more to hogs than producing pork.  The industry has become the poster picture for all that is wrong and right with agriculture and agribusiness in today’s global marketplace.

The economic developers see agribusiness as one of the few options available to create economic activity development in the northeast by building on the region’s strong foundation in agriculture.  They believe that high throughput export industries, such as grain terminals and  hog barns, which have the ability to access new markets, are one way to create more demand for Saskatchewan products.  That translates into more business activity and jobs, higher returns for local feed grains, and growing optimism with each success in rural Saskatchewan.  As well, they noted that agribusiness has the financing, technological tools and economies of scale to devote to enhancing the environment. The financial position, management practices and production, however, they leave in the hands of the companies themselves.

The coalition members believe that the answer to Saskatchewan’s agricultural, economic and social woes is sustainable family farms that produce wholesome, quality food for profitable domestic markets first and export markets secondly, so that young people, who have acquired the skills necessary to produce food, can continue to do so in their own farm business setting, rather than as a corporate employee.  They recognize that agribusiness has squeezed families out of farming, forcing many second and third generation producers to leave communities in search of careers that offer more money and stability. They are concerned about the sustainability of corporate agribusiness in that society will bear the consequences of damage to the environment and Canada’s image as a producer of quality food.

“The common ground I see here tonight is that we all want to retain our infrastructure, and my mandate as chairman of the Kelsey Rural Development Corporation is to enhance the communities,” explained Duff Fenton, citing the development of the terminals in Tisdale as an example of the kind of project that can renew optimism in the business sector and create enthusiasm in communities that attract and retain businesses, services, facilities and most importantly, people.

The second meeting point was that all in attendance were concerned about the quality of life in their communities and from that stand, there is hope that ongoing discussions about the hog barn project will bring the polarized factions closer together.

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Letter to the Editor
Tisdale Recorder
October 12, 2003

This letter is in regard to the issue of the Reeve of Barrier Valley and the Councillors of Barrier Valley’s interest in the construction of mega-hog barns in our area.

This is a subject that I feel very strongly about since it is something that could affect the quality of life for many of us in this area, perhaps not tomorrow and perhaps not next year but it is something that could affect the quality of our family’s, our friend’s and our neighbour’s lives in years to come.  When I say “affect our quality of life” I mean having to live on a daily basis with the offensive odour that is created, by the possibility of our water sources becoming contaminated or by the possibility of our water being used up to the point where we just don’t have any water.  My water is very limited right now, how long will it take for my water source to be used up if a mega-hog barn goes up in this area?  If the water becomes contaminated then I guess it doesn’t really matter how much of it we have or don’t have.

I am not against people raising pigs, I am opposed to mega-hog barns, barns that have livestock in such concentrated numbers that it poses real health risks to those employed at them and to those that live in the vicinity of them.

And just what happens if the barn fails?  The corporations that run them pack up their pigs, pack up their jobs (not that there are many of them to be had), they leave the area and we are left with the mess to clean up and the expense that goes along with it.

I have lived here for the past 10 years of my life, this area is beautiful, and I would like to keep it that way so that if my children and my future grandchildren want to live their lives out here, they can.

I feel that a decision of this magnitude should not be left on the shoulders of so few when it affects so many.  This is a decision that should be made by a community not by a group of seven.

Thank you for this space in your paper.

Lisa Sharpen
Sylvania, SK

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October 13, 2003
Cathy Holtslander, National Organizer
Beyond Factory Farming Project
Council of Canadians

Dear Cathy;

Thank you for your letter of September 25, 2003 inviting Stop the Hogs Coalition to become a member of the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition. 

People from the RMs of Ponass Lake and Barrier Valley, and the Village of Archerwill formed Stop the Hogs Coalition in April, 2003 with a Spokesperson and Secretary-Treasurer in each RM.  We feel we now represent approximately 700 people from these two RMs and the Villages of Rose Valley, Fosston, McKague and Archerwill.  Because of the enormous negative consequences of these projects, our continued purpose is to try to stop the development of the  proposed 5000-sow mega hog barn project in this area. 

We are happy to accept your invitation to join your Coalition and believe that, by working with other groups across the country, we will have a louder, more effective voice in opposing the expansion of factory farms.   For the present time, I will carry on as contact person to act as liaison between your Coalition and ours; my contact information is below.  Unfortunately, very few members of our group have access to the Internet or email so, given sufficient notice, we will attempt to participate in and support the common campaigns of your Coalition as set out in your letter, e.g., letter-writing campaigns, lobbying, research, actions, etc.

In May, 2003, and in light of the current manure management technology, the Council of the RM of Ponass Lake decided against the proposed mega hog project at this time for their area.  However, the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley remains very much in favour of the proposed project.  Our Petition, with signatures of 60% of the eligible voters of the RM (379 out of 630), was presented to and accepted by the Council on September 16, 2003.   As of October 9, 2003, they had made no decision as to whether the RM will honour that Petition and our request for a vote to settle the issue.   

Realizing that we will never have a better chance than right now to change the mindset of our Council, we are encouraging new people to stand for election as Councillors for four of our Divisions on November 5.  Wish us luck!

We are looking forward to working with you to stop the expansion of this menace. 

Yours truly,
Elaine M. Hughes

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RM Hears from Two Delegations
Wadena News
October 22, 2003

Tax enforcement, wildlife habitat and issues regarding the proposed hog barn development dominated discussions during the Oct. 9 regular meeting of Barrier Valley RM. 

The meeting began with delegations from Elaine Hughes and Ida Lumberjack.  Hughes attended regarding the RMs decision on the petition asking for a democratic vote on the establishment of an intensive hog operation and a request to look into the future and protect resources for future generations.  Lumberjack came to the meeting to speak about her concerns that the proposed intensive hog operations could eventually pollute the river system and the lands of the Kinistin Reserve. 

Councillors endorsed a request to subdivide NW 15-42-14 W2.  The land will be divided to allow for development of wildlife habitat.

Administrator Fern Lucas was given permission to advertise the List of Lands with Arrears of Taxes and proceed with approved tax enforcement procedures against the land listed therein.

It was agreed that the RM would send two individuals to an invitation symposium regarding the financing of education from kindergarten to grade 12.  The meeting is to be held Oct. 29 and 30 in Regina.

The next regular meeting is slated for Nov. 13

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Council Stalls on Vote about Hog Barns
Letter to the Editor
Humboldt Journal
October 23, 2003

Dear Editor;

At the RM of Barrier Valley meeting on October 9, 2003, the delegation from Stop the Hogs Coalition asked for Council's decision concerning our Petition (379 signatures - 60% - of the 630 eligible voters) which requests that the RM arrange for a vote on the proposed mega hog barn project for this area.  Reeve Hanson stated that they had made no decision.  When asked why not, Stop the Hogs received some interesting reasons:  “we are still gathering information” and “we don’t know what the wording should be on the ballot”.  When asked when we would get their decision, one Councillor stated, “we’re going to let the election (of new Councillors?) make the decision on the Petition”!

What a good idea!  In this RM, there are 4 openings for Councillors needing to be filled with new people on November 5, 2003 and there will never be a better time to nominate (by Oct. 20) candidates to fill those positions.  And once they are nominated, we, the eligible voters, will never have a better time to exercise our voting rights. 

One vote at a time, each of us can make a difference by electing people who would seriously consider the enormous negative impacts of the mega hog barns which, unbelievably, are still being considered for our beautiful community.  Visitors use the word “pristine” to describe our countryside.  Why are some people willing to risk destroying it with this menace…..for now and for the future?

Why are some people so closed to the idea that pork produced in pig FACTORIES (ILOs) is unhealthy, loaded as it is with added antibiotics, growth hormones and toxic heavy metals put in the animals' feed?  Let’s give the production of  ‘clean’ food back to farmers who live on their own FARMS, who raise their animals in antibiotic-free, open range, humane conditions, and who respect and care for the health of the earth and its inhabitants….for now and for the future.      

The Power of One:  Often you hear people say, “I am only one.  I don’t count for much.”  It is simply not true – Author Unknown

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Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley
As Reported by the RM
November 13, 2003

Reeve Quentin Hanson
Councillors:  Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, Dennis Brown, Lynn Gruending and Wayne Jones. 
Administrator:  Fern Lucas.

ABSENT:  Councillor Brad Cramer

CALL TO ORDER:  Reeve Hanson called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.


Returning Officer, Fern Lucas, gave the following results of the 2003 Municipal Elections: 

Division Two:  Dwight Hagen – 29 votes, Vince Seilstad – 22 votes, Bruce Thompson – 10 votes. Dwight Hagen declared elected.

Division Four:  Dennis Brown declared elected by acclamation.

Division Five: Rice Trombley declared elected by acclamation.

Division Six:  Wayne Jones – 33 votes, Lisa Sharpen – 35 votes.  Lisa Sharpen declared elected.

MINUTES:  Braaten:  That the minutes of the regular meeting of Council held in the municipal office in Archerwill on October 9, 2003 be approved. CARRIED.

STATEMENT OF RECEIPTS & PAYMENTS:  Jones:  That the Statement of Receipts and Payments for the month of October, 2003, be accepted as presented.  CARRIED.

ACCOUNTS:  Brown:  That the accounts, as listed and attached to, and forming part of these minutes, in amount of $82,185.23, covered by cheque numbers 2614 – 2661 inclusive, be approved for payment.  CARRIED.


  • 11:30 a.m. – Stop the Hogs Coalition members Elaine Hughes, Perry Hnetka and Dwayne Sharpen re the following issues:  

    • decision on the petition presented to Council on September 18, 2003 asking for a democratic vote on the establishment of an intensive hog operation in this area

    • Section 168.1 of the Rural Municipality Act pertaining to the passing of bylaws that Council may pass

    • request to have an independent environmental assessment of the effects of an intensive hog operation.

  • 3:00 p.m. – Larry Christianson re cuts in funding for the Archerwill First Responders.

SIGNING AUTHORITY:  Gruending: That in the event that both the Reeve and Deputy Reeve are absent, Wayne Jones be appointed as an alternate signing authority.  CARRIED.

CORRESPONDENCE:  Braaten:  That the correspondence, as listed and attached to and forming part of these minutes, having been copied and distributed, now be filed.  CARRIED.

ADJOURN:  Gruending:  That this meeting adjourn at 3:40 p.m.  The next regular meeting of Council to be December 18, 2003.  CARRIED.

Correspondence as copied and distributed to Council – November 13, 2003

  • SARM re Liability Claim by Ervin Higgins

  • SARM news release – pasture land assessment increase

  • Archerwill First Responders re cut in funding concerns

  • A package of information regarding Intensive Hog Operations submitted via email by Elaine Hughes:

    • a copy of a questionnaire submitted to the RM of Daly in Manitoba

    • a discussion paper titled “Setbacks”

    • a discussion paper titled “Critical Considerations for RM Councillors.”

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Minutes of the Meeting of the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley with Stop the Hogs
As Reported by Stop the Hogs
November 13, 2003

On November 13, 2003, delegates from Stop the Hogs Coalition once more met with the RM of Barrier Valley to learn the Council’s decision regarding the Petition requesting a vote on the mega hog barn proposed for the area.  And, once more, they were told that the Council has not yet made a decision.  Why not?   They are still gathering information. When would they have a decision?  The Reeve told them he didn’t know; because this is such a big issue, they don’t want to make any hasty decisions!   The Coalition presented the Petition to the Council on September 16, 2003 and this is the second time they have come away empty-handed without a decision. 

Further, the Reeve had asked the delegation to come to this meeting prepared to discuss the wording of the ballot….if they decided to give the residents a vote on this issue.  In view of there having been no decision made by the Council, no such discussion took place.  Another missed opportunity for this Council to do the right thing and honour the democratic process by granting a vote to the 380 residents of the municipality who signed the Petition.

The Reeve had also asked the delegation to come prepared to discuss what they want to see in the new bylaw dealing with mega hog barns.   Spokesperson Elaine Hughes pointed out that the Coalition’s primary concern has always been with the obvious risks that the pig factories present to human health, whether through pollution of our drinking water or through toxins and particulates in the fumes given off from the manure in the barns or in the open cesspools beside them.  She went on by reading from the “Powers and Duties of Councils” of the RM Regulations, Section 168 which states, in part, that “a council may pass any bylaw that it considers expedient: (a) for the peace, order and good government of the municipality; and (b) for promoting the health, safety, morality and welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality.”   Ms Hughes suggested the opportunity now exists for the public, the Coalition and the Council to work together to develop a bylaw that would focus on protecting the health and welfare of the present and future residents of this community from the menace of the pig factories.

The Coalition left Discussion Papers in this regard with Council which they will use during their time at the February, 2004 RM meeting.

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Waiting for Democracy in the RM of Barrier Valley
Letter to the Editor
November 13, 2003

Dear Editor,

On November 13, 2003, delegates from Stop the Hogs Coalition met with the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley.   Reeve Hanson had asked us to come to this meeting prepared to discuss the wording of the ballot (if the Council decides to give us a vote on the proposed mega hog barn) and to discuss what we would like to see in a new bylaw dealing with mega hog barns in our community. 

To begin, we asked Reeve Hanson for Council’s decision on our Petition requesting the vote.  He stated that Council had not yet made a decision, that they were still gathering information, and he didn’t know when they would decide!  Again, the Coalition has come away with no decision from Council regarding this issue.  Again, a missed opportunity for Council to honour the democratic process and the 380 RM residents who signed the Petition presented to Council on September 16, 2003.  Needless to say, there also was no discussion on the wording of any ballot!

Regarding what we want to see in the new bylaw dealing with mega hog barns, we reminded Council that the Coalition’s primary concern has always been with the obvious risks to human health presented by the pig factories.   And, to be perfectly clear about what the Coalition wants in the new bylaw, we referred to Section 168 under  “Powers and Duties of Councils” as set out in the RM Regulations.  It states, in part, that “a council may pass any bylaw that it considers expedient: (a) for the peace, order and good government of the municipality; and (b) for promoting the health, safety, morality and welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality.”

The opportunity now exists for the Council to invite the public and the Coalition to work with them to develop a bylaw that would indeed protect the health and welfare of the residents, present and future, from the menace of the pig factories.  In so doing, they would put people ahead of money – what good governance and protecting the people are all about! 

Elaine Hughes
Archerwill, SK

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Stop the Hogs Wins Two Seats in RM Election
Wadena News
November 13, 2003

Dear Editor;

Stop the Hogs Coalition members greeted the results of the November 5 election of   Councillors for the RM of Barrier Valley with cheers and congratulations – THEIR CANDIDATES WON!   The Coalition is a growing group of people who are opposed to the Big Sky mega hog barn proposed for their community and are hopeful that, with two of their members now on Council, their chances of getting a vote on this issue will be a bit more in the Coalition’s favour.   

At the next RM Meeting on November 13, the Coalition once again hopes to learn Council’s decision as to whether or not the community will get a vote on the mega hog barn issue.  Their Petition, asking for a vote and signed by 60% (380) of the eligible voters of the RM, was presented to Council on September 16, 2003.  In an interview with the Parkland Review Reporter, Debbie Furber, on October 10, 2003, Reeve Hanson indicated that “..those who are against (the mega hog barns), we hear from but those who are for it, we don’t hear from, so we have been talking to people to get the feelings out there and there really is so much variance.”  He indicated that they were still gathering information!

The electorate of Division Two elected Dwight Hagen (29) as their new Councillor, winning over incumbent, Bruce Thompson (10), and fellow candidate, Vince Seilstad (22).  Dwight farms and raises bees with his wife, Barb, and family in the Archerwill area.   He said he is looking forward to the challenge ahead and thinks it will be very interesting.  

Lisa Sharpen (35) won the seat for Councillor in Division Six over incumbent, Wayne Jones (33).  Lisa is a Clerk II – Administration at the Tisdale Co-op and farms in the Sylvania area with her husband, Dwayne, and family.  She said she was excited about winning and is anxious to get started in her new position.

Dwight and Lisa take up their two-year terms as Councillors on January 1, 2004.  We wish them well.

Elaine Hughes
Archerwill, SK 

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Large Scale Hog Barns
Nature Views
December 14, 2003

Editor’s Note:

I have received several Letters to the Editor concerning the expansion of large-scale hog barns in Saskatchewan and Canada.  The following is a summary that briefly touches on the issues and concerns surrounding the issue.

In recent years, large-scale hog barns have appeared throughout Canada and Saskatchewan.  The effects of these hog barns affect every aspect of the lives of those that live near these barns.  The major issues include water, soil, and air pollution, animal rights, food safety, public health, and globalization issues.

The huge amounts of waste from hog barns, if not carefully managed, can pollute local water supplies, damage soils, and threaten public health.  The vapours, released from this waste, can bring a stench to an area that makes living near a hog barn unbearable and that causes human health problems.

There is great concern that living conditions for many hogs in these operations are cruel and unnecessary.  Sows are enclosed in stalls for their entire lives and restricted in terms of normal behaviour.

Many people are also concerned about the economic ramifications of having transnational companies own a “vertically integrated” majority of the hog market.  Many companies not only own the hog barns, but every part of the system needed to bring a hog from birth to the butcher to the store.  The result is a very large-scale company, which dominates the market and excludes smaller, local producers.  The fact that many of these companies and transnationals means that instead of money going back into the community, the profits from hog barns instead are taken away from the community.  Because family farms cannot compete in this environment, they are forced out of hog production and off the family farm.

My hope is, that for those readers of Nature Views who wish to do so, is that they can use this as a start on familiarizing themselves with issues around hog barn expansion.  Below are some resources for those who wish to further educate themselves:

Beyond Factory Farming:  Corporate Hog Barns and the Threat to Public Health, the Environment, and Rural Communities.  This book gives detailed information on all of the above-mentioned issues.  More information available at:

Stop the Hogs Coalition is a Saskatchewan activist group concerned with the expansion of hog barns in Saskatchewan:

Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE):  Factory Farm Project.  This is another activist group that is acting on this issue:

“SaskPork” is a voice from the other side on this issue.  The “Education Resources” section on their “About SaskPork” page is a good resource for the basics of pork production and a general view of this industry in Saskatchewan:

The RM of Barrier Valley #397 is faced with the above issues.  A corporation has proposed the establishment of a “mega hog barn” in this area and is facing considerable opposition to their plans.  Those opposed feel that the municipal and provincial regulations do not adequately protect the residents or their environment from the potential problems caused by this project.  They also feel that they will have very little economic gain relative to the adverse effects of having a large-scale hog barn in their area.  The RM has been petitioned by the ratepayers of the RM of Barrier Valley to stop this project in light of their concerns.  As of November 13, 2003, the Council for the RM of Barrier Valley has not made a decision about the hog barn.  The Council has also been asked to produce a bylaw that would give residents greater protection from problems posed by a large-scale hog operation moving into their area.

I am sure that this will not be the last we hear on this issue.  Opinions from both sides of this issue are quite welcome.

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A Week in the Life of Pig Factories
Wadena News
January 19, 2004

Dear Editor:

For those of us lucky enough to watch The Nature of Things lately, it’s been quite a week for pig factories.  On January 7, CBC aired the first of David Suzuki’s two-part series, Corporate Agriculture:  The Hollow Men and we witnessed the unspeakable manner in which this industry carries on its business of producing hogs – our food.  We also saw accurate and unbridled examples of the risks for enormous environmental and health degradation by this industry that those involved in it insist on calling ‘farming’! 

One week later, they showed the final part, Corporate Agriculture:  Alternative Agriculture:  Food for Life - an accurate, hard-hitting revelation of the archaic and disgusting way this industry produces food.   I especially appreciated the people who had the courage to take a stand against the production of this industrial food and how they have adopted wise and sustainable farming methods to produce clean food.  People who obviously care about something other than the ‘bottom line’ – people who respect and care about human and animal health and the health of the land, water and air on this planet where we and future generations must live.  

Are we finally beginning to understand the connection between how our food is produced and our health?  By buying our food from local farmers who, using wise, imaginative and sustainable farming methods to produce clean and nutritious food, we protect ourselves, our children, the environment and the plants and animals that nurture all of us.  We will also be sending the message to the animal factory operators that we have taken back control of our communities, our lifestyle and, best of all, our health. 

Thank you, David Suzuki, for an outstanding testimony and plea for changes in current methods of agriculture – changes needed for the production of healthy, life-supporting nutrition from healthy animals raised in a healthy environment.

Elaine M. Hughes,
Stop the Hogs Coalition
Archerwill, SK

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