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Letters – for May. 20, 2010

Will taxpayers pay for hog barn cleanup?

As I read about “Empty Hog Barns Tumbling Down” in the May 6 Manitoba Co-operator, I again began to wonder who is going to foot all the bills for the decommissioning and cleanup costs of the manure storage facilities, those outside and inside the barns.

When I previously questioned the conservation minister on this matter, his department reminded me that it is the producers’ and owners’ responsibility to have this accomplished.

All well and good, but if the producer-owner does not have the cash resources to do this, or just decides to abandon the operation after a hog barn fire or payment of transition money, it seems to me that once more the Manitoba taxpayer will be on the hook for these expenses.

I recall over the years that at many hog barn conditional use hearings, concerned citizens requested that a suitable bond be put up to cover unforeseen costs that might arise.

Unfortunately, those suggestions, to the best of my knowledge, were not taken seriously by either our local or provincial governments and therefore never adopted. Now in hindsight, I wonder if they would admit that it was the wise and proper thing to do. John Fefchak Virden, Man.

TB-testing story gets much weirder

I suggest the editor should have obtained all true facts before publishing her editorial in the April 29 Manitoba Co-operator (“Works both ways,” page 4). I did not refuse to co-operate with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) because I “thought the tests made (my) animals sick.”

The CFIA has tested my livestock for 27 years and has slaughtered 27 animals that reacted to three different skin tests. Forty-one animals had to be culled because of abortions or other health problems; nine died or had to be euthanized following repeated tests and injections of tuberculin.

Despite my repeated requests, the CFIA refused to investigate or inspect the sick animals, nor would a CFIA inspector allow my private veterinarian to euthanize and necropsy one of these sick animals.

In his April 28, 2008 letter, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz stated “the CFIA veterinarian responsible for TB testing of this herd will use a modified test protocol to test Checkowski’s cattle that incorporates a recently developed blood test for bovine TB. Any cattle that give a positive response to any TB test will be slaughtered.”

The CFIA refused to comply with the minister’s order and took legal action against me. The judge allowed a senior CFIA bureaucrat to overrule and belittle Canada’s minister of agriculture.

Cruelty to animals is not isolated to farm animals, nor are farmers, auction mart employees or truck drivers the only persons who could be guilty of cruelty.

Are CFIA inspectors not cruel by repeatedly injecting tuberculin that causes abortions, mastitis and other health problems in my herd and an ever-increasing number of other producers’ herds?

Are Parks Canada and CFIA officials not cruel by netting elk and deer? How many cervids die or are injured after being captured with nets and harassed by airplanes and helicopters? Can these diseased elk or deer not be destroyed by park wardens with high-powered rifles?

How many diseased cervids leave the park and the TB eradication area to escape harassment by aircraft? Are government officials sincere in their attempts to eradicate tuberculosis, or is it all about their job security?

Rodney Checkowski

Rossburn, Man.

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

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