Sorry for the absence lately. Besides too much desk work, I (alongside a veritable army of passionate supporters) have been helping a farmer friend try to save her flock of rare breed sheep from being slaughtered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under the government's scrapie eradication program -- even though the sheep have so far tested negative for any disease.
The 41 Shropshire sheep, including 20 pregnant ewes due to lamb in a month, were supposed to be confiscated from her farm on Monday, but when the CFIA arrived the sheep were already gone -- stolen.
(To read the backstory, I've been sharing the details about the order to destroy, Monday's rally, the theft and the ensuing press reaction on the Rowangarth Farm Facebook page.)
I hope to eventually write down my thoughts about this madness in a more cohesive and comprehensive way (not yet though -- I'm far too mad and emotional, and this kind of issue requires input from the head, not just the heart) because it's not just about my friend's farm and her flock, or even this particular breed of sheep -- this kind of heavy-handed government action is destroying the lives of small farms across Canada and the United States.
To highlight just one: I recently read about the Baker family of Baker's Green Acres in Michigan whose farm is under attack because the U.S. government has designated the heritage free-range pigs they raise as "feral." Let me repeat: the government has said the pigs they raise are in fact feral, and are thus a risk to crop growers. This kind of action isn't to protect farmers -- it's to protect industry, as in Big Ag.
(For more information on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources actions under an Invasive Species Order, go here or here. This second page also features a YouTube video of the farmer, Mark Baker, sharing his story.)
While governments profess to be supporting small farmers, these kinds of actions -- and any regulations that make it impossible for farmers to grow, process or market their products without intrusive bureaucratic interference (for example, the loss of local, small-scale abattoirs is making it increasingly difficult for farmers, especially organic ones, to have their livestock butchered, and it is still illegal for farmers to sell raw milk despite increasing consumer demand) -- only serve to destroy and "depopulate" small farms.
And it's not just the loss of small farms that is at stake here: biodiversity is lost, consumer choice is lost, food sovereignty is lost, personal freedoms are lost.
When I first started posting news updates on my personal Facebook page, a few friends expressed concern thinking that I was the one under attack. I told them no, it's not me -- but it could be. It could be any small farmer. And that means it should be everyone's problem.