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Letters – for Jul. 9, 2009

Move in new livestock direction

Governments have once again chosen political expediency over science. They are doling out another $37 million to the hog industry.

Why? Because, in the words of the minister of agriculture, “the false connection to the H1N1 flu,” is unjustly damaging the industry.

She makes no mention of how she reached that conclusion or the growing body of scientific evidence to the contrary.

The World Health Organization, Canadian and American Public Health Associations, Canadian and American Medical Associations, Centers for Disease Control, the (U. S.) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and medical research teams from various universities have for years raised alarms about the public health risks of “CAFOs,” or confined animal feeding operations. Their concern rests with the high numbers of animals fed in these operations and the ease with which harmful viruses can establish and spread, as a result.

A little boy who lives in a small Mexican town where massive hog and chicken factories operate, is believed to have been the first case in this latest outbreak.

As a result, the Green Party of Manitoba is urging the government to move in a new direction; place an immediate freeze on the approval of any new CAFOs in this province and phase out ones where both hog and chicken factories operate in close proximity. (This configuration is singled out by medical researchers as being especially potent in the possible development and spread of contagious disease.)

The industry needs to be compensated appropriately for any damage these policy changes might impose.

But it is now time to divert some of the massive public funding which it has received over the years, into smaller and more numerous, straw-based, family hog farms which will actually be sustainable over the long term.

Larry Powell Green Party of Manitoba Roblin, Man.

From pigs to pork

In the July 2, edition of the Manitoba Co-operator I was quoted as saying the industry could become like the potato industry, whereby the only people producing pigs will be those who have contracts with a packer. This indeed is what I said to you and what I meant to say. However, when Ron Friesen posed this notion to Ed Tyrchniewicz, he discounted the idea, citing, “We don’t eat enough pork in Manitoba, or in Canada for that matter, to absorb the output from plants like Brandon.”

Tyrchniewicz interpreted what I was saying to mean that we would only produce pork for the domestic market. This is not what I said or what I intended to suggest. What I did say and I will reiterate is that we may end up in a situation whereby the only hogs produced in Manitoba will be hogs contracted to a packer in Manitoba. A completely different issue altogether is where the pork is ultimately sold.

In a roundabout way, unless something radically changes in the next few months and the U. S. processors change their position regarding mandatory country-of-origin labelling, our industry is currently headed in that direction.

Perry Mohr Chief Executive Officer

Manitoba Pork Marketing Co-op Inc.

Slaughter capacity still needed

In reading your article “Ranchers’ Choice Remnants Rust in Field” in the June 25 Manitoba Co-operator it appears that you may not have interviewed any of the former directors of Ranchers Choice, me being one of them.

I would have been able to shed a different light on some of the issues raised by Mr. Ushkowski. Bids were received for the trucking of this equipment. Ushkowski Trucking was simply outbid. Ranchers Choice did its due diligence.

At no time during the planning of the project was there ever real money committed by the federal government of the day. The provincial government did commit to the project and is to be commended for it. The City of Dauphin absolutely supported the project and was very helpful in any way it could.

To this day, I get plenty of calls from farmers who wished they had supported the plant, when they didn’t. Hindsight is 20/20.

I’ll not go into the reasons as to why it folded, since you didn’t either in your article. Let me just say that there was a dedicated group of farmers, with a dedicated minister of agriculture (the Hon. Rosann Wowchuk) trying to move this project forward. And there was a just as dedicated group of special interest determined to make this fail. The latter unfortunately succeeded.

Were mistakes made? Tell me someone or a project where no one ever makes a mistake. Should the province not have supported this? The province took a risk, just like all farmers take risk each and every day they farm. It’s so easy being an armchair quarterback.

Ranchers have not stopped being hurt by BSE since May 2003.

What is desperately lacking is a long-term vision at the federal level as to what our cattle industry should look like, including slaughter and translate that into real action, not just words. Dependence on a couple of large slaughter facilities is unhealthy for the industry. The integration of financing cattle marketing and cattle slaughter all owned by one company is extremely worrying.

Frieda Krpan St. Laurent, Man.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or e-mail: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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