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.
General News & Information

Hon. Mark Wartman, Minister of Agriculture,
Room 334, Legislative Building, 
Regina, SK  S4S 0B3

Hon. David Forbes, Minister of the Environment, 
Room 208, Legislative Building, 
Regina, SK  S4S 0B3

Dear Minister Wartman and Minister Forbes;

On behalf of Beyond Factory Farming Saskatchewan, I wish to thank both of you for taking the time to meet with us on the afternoon of April 23, 2004 to discuss the factory production of hogs in this province.

Our Economic Issues set out several elements of our opposition to this activity such as

  • elimination of check-offs;
  • scrapping the ethanol subsidization idea;
  • the government’s plans with respect to the US countervailing duties;
  • termination of further loans to Big Sky Farms or any other corporate hog producer;
  • rejection of the caps on the CAIS program;
  • the government’s commitment to the environment and to family farms;
  • the government’s vision for the people of Saskatchewan;
  • the requirement for all hog factories with sewage lagoons to provide a Performance Bond to the community; and
  • the results of economic analyses the government has done on the industrial hog production in this province.

Our Environment and Democracy Issues included

·     the conflict of interest that Saskatchewan Agriculture & Food is in as both regulator and promoter of industrial livestock operations;

·     Saskatchewan Environment’s mandate to protect our air quality;

·     implementation of the Water Appeal Board’s recommendation that intensive livestock operations secure the necessary water allocation before they are given an operating permit;

·     Saskatchewan Environment’s responsibility to protect our soil from harmful toxic compounds and incorrect nitrogen-to-phosphorus levels in hog manure;

·     the need to honour the democratic wishes of the RM of Livingston by withdrawing approval of the proposed hog barn; and

·     the government’s failure to fulfill their election promise of A Green and Prosperous Economy.

 Our Alternatives included

·     Encourage the use of hoop/Quonset-style barns as a way to produce free-range or organic hogs in a humane, sustainable, and environmentally sound method without hormones, antibiotics, sow stalls, or the pollution of our land, air and water by liquid hog manure; 

·     Acknowledge and support the theory that the only way to bring young farmers on to the land is to have them own it, farm it and see a profitable future; 

·     Re-establish single-desk selling;

·     Assist entrepreneurs to establish small local abattoirs; 

·     Promote and support these alternative methods of producing food to meet the growing demands of better-informed, more discriminating consumers.  The corporate way is not working.

Health Issues

Due to the shortage of time, our Health Issues included in your briefing material were not presented.  If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so.  It demonstrates the urgent calls by major world health organizations for a moratorium on the expansion of the hog industry.  The cause for their concern rests with the continuous administration of low levels of antibiotics to these intensively confined animals their entire lives.  While keeping the animals alive long enough to get them to market, this practice supports the development of ‘superbugs’ – antibiotic-resistant bacteria which are resistant to the same antibiotics being given to the animals and, in illness, to humans. 

Working in a Hog Factory - Who will forget the brief but convincing stories of the former hog barn worker?

Our solutions to some of these serious problems include 

  • put regulations, not guidelines, for mega hog operations into the hands of Saskatchewan Environment;
  • define ILOs as ”developments” in order that they be subject to  full Environmental Impact Assessments;
  • end government investment of public money in hog operations;
  • return to single-desk selling of hogs;
  • further define ILOs as industries, NOT farms, requiring them to pay their proper share of municipal property taxes;
  • introduce agricultural policies that reflect the government’s campaign promise for a “Green and Prosperous Economy”;
  • support the humane, environmentally-friendly raising of hogs in hoop barns with straw bedding, encouraging organic or free-range pigs;
  • introduce legislation this session that requires water approvals be complete before Saskatchewan Agriculture issue approval for an ILO; 
  • include Beyond Factory Farming Saskatchewan as a stakeholder on equal standing with Agrivision; and 
  • place a moratorium on mega hog expansion in Saskatchewan. 

In his presentation on the importance of food quality for good health, and his gift of bread made from Saskatchewan-grown certified organic stone ground whole wheat, Elmer Laird voiced his hope that the provincial government soon begins to look at the nutritional value rather than volume of production or profit per acre.  He emphasized that “our health care system is getting on very shaky ground; however, it must be built on a foundation of clean water, pure air, certified organic nutritious food, and a clean environment or it will go broke.”

Needless to say, we were disappointed that we were unsuccessful in our request for a moratorium on the expansion of hog factories.  We are concerned about the government’s lack of the courage to acknowledge that the industrial method of hog production is not sustainable and is, in fact, putting our environment and public health at great risk. 

“Risk assessment” and “risk management” speak to the old way of making decisions in environmental or health matters – dealing with the damage after it occurs.  The new and modern tool, however, for making decisions on these issues is to apply precaution – preventing the damage before it occurs.

We do not understand the government’s reluctance to exercise precaution and halt the expansion of hog factories but, through future meetings, we will continue our attempts to convince you to act wisely on this issue.

In the meantime, we look forward to receiving your written responses to the questions and concerns raised during our meeting with you.  Thank you for your time.

Yours truly,

Elaine Hughes
Beyond Factory Farming Saskatchewan
Box 23, Archerwill, SK  S0E 0B0

Cc:  Hon. Peter Prebble, Minister Responsible for Sask Water

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Response to Above Letter
June 1, 2004

Minister of Agriculture and Food,
Legislative Building
Regina, Saskatchewan   S4S 0B3

June 1, 2004

Ms Elaine Hughes
Beyond Factory Farming Saskatchewan
P.O. Box 23
Archerwill, SK  S0E 0B0

Dear Ms Hughes:

Thank you for your letter of May 6, 2004, in follow-up to our meeting on April 23, 2004, in which we discussed hog production and a number of other broader policy issues related to the farming industry in rural Saskatchewan.  I appreciate your efforts to write and share your views on a variety of issues, including economics, environment, democracy and health.

As you are aware, rural life and farming has undergone dramatic changes over the last 100 years and continues to change.  We are actively working to revitalize rural Saskatchewan and to promote positive economic and environmentally sound growth in rural Saskatchewan.

The Province has legislation administered by Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization specific to intensive livestock production.  Large intensive livestock operations (ILOs) are reviewed by the Saskatchewan Environment’s Environmental Assessment Branch to ensure the requirements of The Environmental Assessment Act are met.  ILOs also require water use approval from the Watershed Authority to ensure that resources are not depleted and that other user needs are met.

The Crown Investments Corporation was established to provide investment capital that would help the province prosper and attract business development to both urban and rural Saskatchewan.  Investment into hog production has been made by the Crown Investments Corporation, not be individual government departments.

Saskatchewan has a well developed regulatory process and there are opportunities for this kind of development in Saskatchewan.  There are also new opportunities in niche markets including the production methods that you advocate.  There is substantial interest in organic farming, free range animal production and the establishment of small local abattoirs.

We recognize that while we may not always agree on how to promote development in rural Saskatchewan, this government will continue to strive to ensure a prosperous Saskatchewan and to protect health and environment in the province.

Yours truly,

“Original signed by Mark Wartman, Minister of Agriculture and Food, and
David Forbes, Minister of the Environment”

Cc:  Honourable John Nilson, Q.C., Minister of Health
       Honourable Peter Prebble, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Watershed Authority

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Nebraska's Largest Hog Producer Files For Bankruptcy
May 7, 2004

Columbus-based Furnas County Farms, Nebraska's largest swine producer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. The company has 50,000 breeding sows and annual production that accounts for 15 percent of all the hogs raised the state of Nebraska annually.

It's the 14th-largest hog operation in the United States, according to an annual survey by Successful Farming magazine.

Its lenders are carrying an estimated $172 million in unsecured debt, according to records on file at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Omaha. More than $19 million of that is held by the First National Bank of Omaha.

Scott Burroughs, part of an interim Furnas County Farms management team on duty in Columbus on Wednesday, was trying to get out a message of reassurance about adequate financial resources for the short term to 1,200 suppliers and to about 375 employees spread across 75 operations in the state. In prepared remarks, Burroughs alluded to a signed letter of intent from a potential but as-yet-unnamed buyer.

In follow-up questions about what's ahead on the Chapter 11 path, he said he was "very optimistic that the sale will happen. But if the sale falls through, it wouldn't be good. It would be a very negative thing to the state," Burroughs said.

Furnas County Farms was launched by Chuck Sand, perhaps Nebraska's most prominent pork producer, in the 1970s. Its name comes from its pervasive presence in Furnas County and in the Arapahoe area in the south-central part of the state. But there also are extensive holdings north of Grand Island and a few finishing units in western Iowa.

The demise of an operation so large defies a pattern of consolidation and concentration in which family-sized hog farms disappear and bigger competitors qualify for lucrative production contracts from major meatpackers. It also attracts the attention of critics who have clashed with Sand on such issues as rural zoning and Initiative 300, the state's anti-corporate farming law.

Rod Johnson, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers, said the closing of so many hog operations "would have a devastating impact on some of the rural communities out there." And a loss of that much hog production, or even a significant portion of it, "would have a negative impact on every producer." Nebraska meatpacking plants already have to import 35 percent to 40 percent of the hogs they process, Johnson said.

Furnas County Farms was done in by a combination of factors, Burroughs said. One of the most burdensome was an outbreak of Porcine Respiratory Reproductive Syndrome, or PRRS, in more than 50 percent of its locations since 2000. The virus typically reduces litter sizes and interferes with weight gain among animals suffering respiratory distress.

Betsy Freese, livestock editor at Successful Farming magazine in Des Moines, also pointed to high feed costs and more. "The problem is their cost structure," she said. "A lot of their facilities are old. Their genetics are not looked at as being very good." When grain prices climb rapidly, "that always affects these larger producers," she said, "because they don't raise their own feed."

Source: OsterDowJones Commodity News

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Red Williams Interview on CBC Saskatchewan
March 16, 2004

Hi Noon Edition: 

I thought it was strange that Professor Red Williams mentioned several times in his interview with Rosalie Woloski, that 'outside agitators' are the main obstacle to intensive livestock operations in Saskatchewan. 

Unlike Mr. Williams' organization, Agrivision-- the people in this province who are against factory farming receive no funding from either government or business, have almost no political influence with mainstream parties and get very little media attention. 

How much more lopsided would Mr. Williams like this issue to be?  

Yours truly 
Jack Maluga 
Wynyard, Sask.

Click here to listen to the interview

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What's Wrong with Factory Farming?

The intent of presenting this data is not to "demonize farmers, many of whom went into the business out of a desire to work with nature and be close to the land, and don't like what's going on any more than you or me. But something has happened to the way animals are treated in modern meat production that is a disgrace to the human spirit, and a violation of the ancient human-animal bond...

The process of rearing farm animals in the US has changed dramatically from the family farms of yesteryear. This reality, coupled with the exemption of farm animals from laws that forbid cruelty to animals, has produced a heartbreaking situation. More animals are subjected to more tortuous conditions in the US today than has ever occurred anywhere in world history. Never before have the choices of each individual been so important." John Robbins, The Food Revolution (2001)


* All statistics and information compiled from The Food Revolution by John Robbins (2001), Diet for a New America by John Robbins (1987), Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet and the Rainforest Action Network.


  • Production of excrement by total US human population: 12,000 pounds/second
  • Production of excrement by US livestock: 250,000 pounds/second (including 25 pounds of manure per cow per day)
  • Sewage systems in US cities: Common
  • Sewage systems in US feedlots: None
  • Amount of waste produced annually by US livestock in confinement operations which is not recycled: 1 billion tons
  • Where feedlot waste often ends up: In our water
  • Gallons of oil spilled by the Exxon-Valdez: 12 million
  • Gallons of putrefying hog urine and feces spilled into the New River in North Carolina on June 21, 1995, when a "lagoon" holding 8 acres of hog excrement burst: 25 million
  • Fish killed as an immediate result: 10-14 million

Antibiotic Resistance:

  • Antibiotics administered to people in the US annually to treat diseases: 3 million pounds
  • Antibiotics administered to livestock in the US annually for purposes other than treating disease: 24.6 million pounds
  • Antibiotics allowed in cow's milk: 80
  • Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13%
  • Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91%
  • Reason: Breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock
  • Response by entire European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: Ban
  • Response by American meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: Full and complete support

Numbers of Animals Slaughtered for Food in US:

  • Number of cows and calves slaughtered every 24 hours in the US: 90,000
  • Number of chickens slaughtered every minute in the US: 14,000
  • Food animals (not counting fish and other aquatic creatures) slaughtered per year in the US: 10 billion


  • Transcript of New York Times full page ad published June 22, 2001 detailing the horrors of our modern-day slaughterhouses. With 309-330 cows per hour coming by on the "disassembly" line, there are many who are still fully conscious with eyes wide open when skinned and cut apart. They die literally piece by piece.

Factory Farm Animals with Diseases from Intensive Conditions:

  • A report by the USDA estimates that 89% of US beef patties contain traces of the deadly E. coli strain. Reuters News Service 8/10/00
  • US pigs raised in total confinement factories where they never see the light of day until being trucked to slaughter: 65 million (total confinement factories are banned in Britain)
  • US pigs who have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%
  • Primary source of Campylobacter bacteria: Contaminated chicken flesh
  • People in the US who become ill with Campylobacter poisoning every day: More than 5,000
  • American turkeys sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 90%
  • Americans sickened from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: More than 650,000
  • Americans killed from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: 600
  • Increase in Salmonella poisoning from raw or undercooked eggs between 1976 and 1986: 600%
  • 90% of US chickens are infected with leukosis -- chicken cancer -- at the time of slaughter.
  • Average lifespan of a dairy cow - 25 years; average lifespan when on a factory dairy farm - 4 years.


  • Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons
  • Water needed to produce 1 pound of meat: 2,500 gallons
  • Cost of hamburger meat if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by US taxpayers: $35/pound
  • When water shortages occur, citizens are often requested to not wash cars, water lawns and to use low-flow shower heads. However, cutting back on meat consumption would save much more water given that the water required to produce just ten pounds of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.
  • About 70% of the water used in the 11 western states is dedicated to the raising of animals for food.
  • Years until the Ogallala Aquifer runs dry (formed by glaciers, the largest underground lake in the world and source of fresh water beneath an area from Texas to South Dakota, and Missouri to Colorado): 30 to 50
  • The amount of water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a (Naval) destroyer. (Newsweek article "The Browning of America")


  • Amount spent annually by Kellogg's to promote Frosted Flakes: $40 million
  • Amount spent annually by the dairy industry on "milk mustache" ads: $190 million
  • Amount spent annually by McDonald's advertising its products: $800 million
  • Amount spent by the National Cancer Institute promoting fruits and vegetables: $1 million.

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Grown Locally by Family Farmers - a Powerful Marketing Message
Farm & Countryside Commentary
by Elbert van Donkersgoed
March 16, 2004

"Grown locally by family farmers" was the first choice of more than 75 percent of consumers in an Internet survey. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa has tested prototypes for food ecolabels  - seals or logos indicating that a product has met a certain set of  environmental and/or social standards. The study found that the term locally grown, when combined with family farmers, appears to be a powerful marketing message.

No wonder New York City's Greenmarket Farmers Market is such a success.  In a  couple of decades a project begun as a once-a-week market at Union Square in  Manhattan is now an agency with 42 markets in 31 locations throughout  New  York City. At least 20 of the markets operate year round; the flagship market in Union Square now operates four days a week, and 1/3 of markets are in low income areas where malnutrition and obesity are endemic.

Last week, Tom Strumolo, Greenmarket's director, spoke to the Second Annual  Local Food event sponsored by the Toronto Food Policy Council and Caledon  Countryside Alliance. He described Greenmarket as a unique service to New  York City, both in structure and accomplishment. Those accomplishments include: 

  • Fresh food for a quarter million customers per week during the peak season;
  • A nutrition program for low income families worth almost a million dollars per year;
  • Over 105 restaurants supplied with fresh ingredients each week;
  • Student educational tours three days a week;
  • Donation of 500,000 pounds of unsold food to food banks each year;
  • 20,000 acres of farmland close to the city kept in production; and
  • a group of family farmers succeeding in spite of globalization.

The Greenmarket structure is unique. It is a program of the Council on the Environment of New York City, a privately funded citizens organization in the Mayor's Office. Greenmarket trains market managers. For the farmers, staff takes care of the nitty-gritty details of approvals for new sites, relationships with community boards, weekly advertising, publicity events and arrangements for accepting credit cards, food stamps and nutrition vouchers.

Most significantly Greenmarket has branded their markets as "locally grown by family farmers." Middlemen, resellers or brokers are thus excluded from their 42 markets. With few exceptions, all items must be grown, raised, foraged, caught, or otherwise produced by the seller. Greenmarket staff members routinely visit and work with the farmers to improve displays, identify new ethnic crops and to make sure that what they sell at market is grown or raised on their farms.

Greenmarket Farmers Market in New York City is an economic success -- proof  that locally grown by family farmers is a powerful marketing message.

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Canada Farmers Worry Hogs are Latest US Target

Web Access: Click Here

By Roberta Rampton

2004-03-08 22:48:37 GMT (Reuters)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 8 (Reuters) - Canadian farmers said on Monday they are worried their hogs will be the latest product added to a U.S. hit list of Canadian farm exports if a new challenge by U.S. pork producers is successful.

On Friday, the National Pork Producers Council filed petitions with the U.S. government accusing Canadian farmers of dumping subsidized hogs south of the border, depressing prices.

"It just seems to be one problem after another for all of agriculture in Canada," said David Rolfe, a farmer and president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, a lobby group in the Prairie province of Manitoba.

Canadian wheat has been kept out of the United States by countervailing and dumping duties for the past year, and Canadian live cattle have been banned since last May after a case of mad cow disease.

Now U.S. hog producers want duties of up to 20 percent on Canadian hog exports, which farmers could have to pay as early as Aug. 12.

The U.S. group argued Canadian government programs -- including a federal whole-farm income insurance program -- help farmers export hogs at cheap prices.

"They seem to be clutching at straws as far as programs go in Canada," Rolfe said, noting the federal plan does not cover losses and only insures 70 percent of farmers' recent average income to comply with trade agreements.

"They were marginal programs at best," said Rolfe, who raised hogs until last year. "If you claimed two years in a row, you were in deep trouble."

Canadian hog farmers have endured three years of poor returns because of low prices, high feed costs and the surging Canadian dollar.

But exports have boomed, reaching 7.3 million hogs in 2003, up more than 35 percent from 2001.

The huge increase came at a time when U.S. farmers lost money, which will likely mean the case will proceed, a Washington trade lawyer familiar with Canada-U.S. trade issues said.

"That doesn't guarantee you that you're going to win a case, if you're the U.S. industry, but it probably means you're going to get a case going," the lawyer told Reuters.

"I think people ought to take the case seriously," the lawyer said.

Even temporary duties could be devastating for hog farmers, said Claude Vielfaure of Hytek, one of Canada's largest hog production networks.

"In the meantime, you've got to be able to pay the bills and live," Vielfaure said, noting Canadian farmers have seen 20 percent of their returns disappear with the climb in the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. greenback over the past year.

Most of the increase in exports came in the form of baby pigs shipped by Canadian Prairie farmers to U.S. feeder barns in the U.S. Midwest, said Kevin Grier, livestock analyst with the George Morris Center in Guelph, Ontario.

"It's supplying a demand down there: that's the frustrating thing," Grier said, noting Prairie farmers can raise weanlings cheaper than their U.S. counterparts, but U.S. farmers have cheaper feed costs.

"Prairie producers don't get any subsidies," Grier said.

A duty would likely drive down prices offered by Canadian packers by an equivalent amount, Grier said, adding to pressure on farmers.

"It's terrible news at a terrible time," he said, explaining Ontario hog farmers lost an average of more than C$10 ($7.60) per hog sold through 2002 and 2003.

"How much can these guys take?" Grier said.

($1=$1.32 Canadian)

Copyright Reuters 2004
03/09/2004 08:58 a.m. CDT

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An Open Letter to the Prime Minister
Joe Leschyshyn
February 2, 2004

The Right Hon. Paul Martin
Parliament Bldgs.
Ottawa Ont.                                       

Open letter to The Prime Minister

Feb. 2, 2004

Dear Sir:

The Federal and Provincial Governments have pumped in millions of dollars via the C.A.R.D. and other programs to facilitate huge Intensive Livestock Operations for many years. These support payments are generated by the Canadian Public.

Despite the input, neither the Government nor the Industries have come up with a definite Plan to protect our Health, Water, Air, Land or the Family Farm. The noble projections that Family Farmers had carved out have been ruined by Corporate intrusion. The unforgiving pollution and grief that these Industries have created from Coast to Coast should bring a sobering thought to Government and yourself.

Canadians, as a whole, do not want Ecological Terrorism. The sympathy for these polluters must not be greater than the well being of Canadians and their Land Base. 

Please put Canada back in the hands of its People and not Corporate dominance.

Joe Leschyshyn
Chatfield, Manitoba

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Letter to Hon. Speller
January 29, 2004

Mr. Speller:

I hope the discovery of BSE in Canadian cattle will be a wake-up call to the policies of both federal and provincial agriculture departments.

I am referring to programs such as CARDS (Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development), which according to your department has invested $60 million a year since 1995, "to stimulate progressive change in agriculture and the agrifood industry."

Unfortunately in Saskatchewan, much of this grant money has gone to factory-farming operations, many of which raise hogs.  Similarly, many provincial programs are aimed at encouraging this type of agriculture.  And we're beginning to see the consequences; bird flu from Asia could be the next crisis heading our way.

Because of the BSE scare, more and more consumers are paying closer attention to how their food is raised, and they're coming to the conclusion that factory farms are not the direction to go. They want their meat--whether it be pork, beef or chicken--raised by family farms in the traditional, healthy way.

Yet your funding of intensive livestock initiatives throughout Canada is promoting the exact opposite.  Your department's grant programs should begin reflecting the changes in public and consumer opinion.

Yours Truly,

Jack Maluga
Wynyard, SK

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Letter to the Editor
Star Phoenix
January 13, 2004

Columnist Wrong to Back Factory Farms

What planet has Kevin Hursh been living on?

At a time when the Canadian beef industry has nearly been brought to its knees by BSE, and when television programs--the most recent being the CBC's Nature of Things (Farming Inc., Jan 7) are showing the tragic consequences of factory farming--Mr. Hursh continues to 'whistle in the dark', making outrageous excuses for the industry.

In his Jan. 7th column "Size Does Matter on Saskatchewan Farms", Mr. Hursh mentions pork baron Florian Possberg's theory that opposition to intensive livestock, including I suppose Big Sky Farms, stems from an aversion in this province to anything large and 'potentially' successful.  Hursh says we should get over our jealously and accept the reality of the new agriculture.   He thinks opponents of factory farms are small-minded--we're likely all socialists, and we believe that everybody should be equally poor.

That is complete and utter bunk!

If Mr. Possberg and others in the factory farming business were manufacturing widgets instead, I'd gladly buy their widgets and I'd be happy if they all became multi-millionaires. But I can't bring myself to support an industry which has so many negative implications:  for the environment, for animal welfare and for the survival of  smaller farms, which Mr. Hursh seems to be ready to write off.

Hursh says animal care in factory farms is better than ever.  That's not saying much!  There's a big difference between the way free-range pigs are raised and the pigs raised in factory farms, which are stacked inside like sardines or caged in tight pens and forced to stand in their own feces.  Are these the same types of operations Mr. Hursh once described in a column on his  investment in Big Sky Finishers Inc.,  as 'piggy hotels?'  If these pigs could only talk, Mr. Hursh, there would be plenty of complaints to the front desk.

American environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr. accuses the intensive livestock business of buying off politicians.  I would like to believe that's not the case yet in Canada.  Politicians in this country are already dazzled enough by the few jobs that factory farms create, that they ignore the plight of the small producers they displace and the other damage that will surely come.

Jack Maluga
Wynyard, Sask.

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Mad Cow Disease Attributed to Broken Food System and Poorly Enforced Health Policies
Statement by the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE)
December 24, 2003

Despite Agriculture Secretary Veneman's statement that the Department of Agriculture "has had an aggressive surveillance program insure detection and a swift response" for mad cow disease, the facts are to the contrary.  A broken food system and negligently enforced public health policy are endangering the health of Americans.

In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) made four recommendations to protect the public from an outbreak of the disease, which have yet to be instituted in the United States .  The WHO  recommended the following:

  • Stop Feeding Infected Animals to Other Animals
    US deer and elk with chronic wasting disease are fed to hogs and chickens.

  • Test All Sick Animals.  
    Sick animals which are unable to walk on their own power, "downers," like the one found yesterday in Washington state, should be tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease).  The US tests fewer than 2% of the downers which are sent to slaughter for human consumption, while Japan , for example, tests 100% of their "downers."

  • Stop Feeding Bovine Brains, Eyes, Spinal Cords or Intestines to People or Livestock.  
    In 1997, USDA tests showed that 88% of meat processors sampled were producing beef products which contained unacceptable material.

  • Stop Weaning Calves on Cow's Blood.  
    Calves in the US are drinking up to three cups of "red cell blood protein" each day to wean them; this protein may contain infected material.

Although in 1997 the FDA issued a final rule banning most mammalian protein in feeds for ruminant animals, as of October 2003, a total of 300 US companies were in violation of federal regulations to control mad cow disease. 

Evidence indicates that mad cow disease is the product of an increasingly industrialized food system where parts of deceased animals are routinely fed to live animals to keep costs down. Cattle are fed animal byproducts, implanted with hormones, and are routinely fed antibiotics to promote quick growth and keep them alive.  The majority spend most of their lives crowded on feedlots, where they live in a mixture of mud and their own filth, have no shade or protection, and have no freedom of movement.  These practices are having a grave impact on the integrity of our food supply.

"Mad Cow Disease is a red flag that exposes the deadly flaws employed by our broken food system," says Karen Hudson of the GRACE Factory Farm Project. "The corporate industrial model of agriculture has brought us to the position we are in today. Grinding up dead farm animals to feed to live animals should be banned worldwide."  

Testing animals for Mad Cow is not the solution; the only viable answer to this problem is to change the way animals are raised.  Consumers can help create this change by supporting family farmers who raise animals sustainably. 

For more information on factory farming and Mad Cow, visit
For more information on how to find sustainable food in your area, visit

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Book Stirs Bad Air Over Hog Farming
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
December 13, 2003

If you call up "hog barns" on the Saskatchewan Government Web site, you will, according to this story, be inundated with what feels like a public relations campaign. The story says that the government's optimistic vision of the hog mega-barns that have been springing up around the province recently allows for no discouraging words.

But at the community level, these intensive livestock operations (ILOs), or confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), as they're variously known, are a source of ongoing controversy. On one side are those interested in preserving family farms and protecting the environment, and on the other the corporations that own the ILOs and the governments that support them.

That includes the Saskatchewan government, which has an equity interest in one hog barn operation and has spent $30 million or so of taxpayers' money on the industry. Among other things, those who build the hog barns are exempt from some taxes the rest of us pay.

The story says that a new book titled Beyond Factory Farming by the non-profit, non-partisan Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-Sask.), is a slim volume based primarily on papers presented to a conference by the same name held in Saskatoon last year.

The story adds that the book was edited by Alexander (Sandy) Ervin, a professor of anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan; Cathy Holtslander, a national organizer on the factory farming issue for The Council of Canadians; Darrin Qualman, once a farmer at Dundurn who is now the executive secretary of the National Farmers Union, and Rick Sawa, director of CCPA-Sask.

Holtslander was quoted as saying in a recent interview that, "One of the key issues in Saskatchewan is that the Department of Agriculture has sole authority over approval. They are also involved in promoting the barns, and the government has invested in Big Sky Farms. So when you have a conflict of interest between the regulator and the promoter, and the regulator is also an investor, it's pretty difficult to find the kind of objectivity we can trust."

The story goes on to say that the vertical integration of the industry has created huge problems in the U.S. because the corporations can actually benefit from poor hog prices, because they can take their profits at the packing and wholesaling levels. Family farm producers cannot, and they're forced out of business.

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Raising Pigs
Western Producer
June 5, 2003

To the Editor:

The advantages of raising pigs in a pasture-like environment as opposed to intensive confinement had been realized centuries ago.  Author Gary Allen, among others interested in history and economics, knew intensive production units are promoted by the super rich to institute a form of international socialism aimed to squeeze out small-scale entrepreneurs.  Then hire some of the displaced as their labour force.

The Western Producer of April 1 included Greg and Bonnie Spragg’s pasture pig operation.

The Spragg report is based on their own experience.  Realistically, we must take a broader look. Pasture raised pigs being exposed to sun and fresh air are healthier.  This means fewer deaths and much less medication.  In addition, odour and environmental problems aren’t anywhere near to that of intensive livestock operations.  Furthermore, people with sensitive tastes upon eating pork are able to determine whether the porker was raised conventionally or in a pig factory…  This alone should convince health conscious governments to outlaw pig factories…

Stuart Makaroff,
Saskatoon, SK

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