Farm Confessional: What Butchering Your Animals Really Feels Like

slaughterheroThis article, by Katherine Dunn, is one of the best, most humane and honest articles I have ever read on the topic of coping with butchering livestock. I think those of us in the West are largely alienated from the balance of life and death, and how each is integral to the other. It is a good topic to ponder come Samhain.  Click the photo to go to the article:

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Buying Nova Scotia-raised turkeys at a grocery store ensures you are giving money to the turkey marketing board which consists of 19 industrial mega-farmers trying to outlaw anyone else in the province from raising their own turkeys.  It also ensures your turkeys are raised in the most inhumane and unhealthy ways, and butchered under equally poor conditions.

Buying Nova Scotia-raised turkeys at a grocery store ensures you are giving money to the turkey marketing board which consists of 19 industrial mega-farms trying to outlaw anyone else in the province from raising their own turkeys. It also ensures your turkeys are raised in the most inhumane and unhealthy ways, and butchered under equally poor conditions.

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The Petition for Food Sovereignty

For those of you have been asking where is the petition, here it is in the format of a downloadable jpeg file.  Feel free to print it up and post it for other concerned citizens to sign.

free food petition

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Local Food & Farms Under Attack as NS Liberal Government Sides With Monopolies

To see the article in the Cape Breton Independent, click the image.

To see the article in the Cape Breton Independent, click the image.

EVERYONE IN NOVA SCOTIA, and in the Maritime Provinces, and in Canada–if you want access to fresh wholesome foods, if you don’t believe the government should be handing out monopolies to industrial farms and actively working to shutdown small, local farmers and food sellers, then you need to respond to this, sign the petition and let the useless Nova Scotia government know you’ve had enough.

Liberal government of NS: I suggest you pay attention because if you don’t, as the NDP discovered last election, you can easily be replaced. It’s time for the archaic Natural Products Act–which you’ve been twisting to kill small farms and enable self-serving monopolies like the Turkey Marketing Board–to be stricken. And you’re going to find more and more people siding against you if you keep pandering to big business instead of Nova Scotians. Just keep in mind, Premier McNeil, it only took a couple weeks to get 3000 signatures on this petition . Just imagine how many of us there are around the province and how significantly and how fast we can really mount pressure if you don’t act like you care.

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The Secret! Big Corporate Farms Press for More Monopolies

Under the watchword of "safety", government and corporate farms seeking monopolies, would have you believe the small farming that has been safely, sustainable feeding the human species for thousands of years is suddenly dangerous to your health.

Under the watchword of “safety”, government and corporate farms seeking monopolies would have you believe the small farming that has been safely, sustainable feeding the human species for thousands of years is suddenly dangerous to your health.

When one is a small farmer, or even if one just shops for humanely raised and wholesomely grown meat and produce at local stores and farmers’ markets, one cannot avoid becoming aware of ever mounting pressure on small farmers and market gardeners. The buzz word for this pressure is “safety”. Under the guise of wanting to make you “safe”, government just wants to force all your food to go through “official inspections”, often meaning it has to pass through gigantic butchering and processing facilities, before you can have it. Apparently, the same home grown meat, eggs, cheese and produce that humans have been thriving on for thousands upon thousands of years are suddenly unsafe unless they pass through costly inspections and processing.

The real reason for this pressure is not safety, however. That is the conman’s word of the day. The real reason is to make it ungainly and over expensive for small farmers. Corporate farms want monopolies in the same way network television wanted the airwaves (anyone remember the airwave battles back when FOX became a network, then followed by the cable channels?). Basically, the big three networks wanted to limit the playing field as much as possible. In the case of farming, safety is the word to trick the unwitting public. The real reason for these mandates is $$$. Plain and simple. For example, the Nova Scotia Turkey Marketing Board has only 19 major farm producers (if you can think of cruel, unsustainable battery husbandry as farming). Between them they produce some 4.5 million turkeys per year, with a market value of some $135 million dollars, and that’s not pocket change! The Turkey Board, pretending interest in public safety, this year has launched a direct attack against every small turkey farmer in the province, claiming they own all turkeys, have rights to all turkeys and no one can possibly safely sell or butcher a turkey but them. The excuse is “safety”. The real reason is market monopoly.

Just one more story of big corporate farming monopolies, this one about the Poultry Marketing Board of PEI.

Just one more story of big corporate farming monopolies, this one about the Poultry Marketing Board of PEI.

I don’t even raise turkeys, and if I did, I sure wouldn’t give a rat’s ass what the marketing board thought or did. I’d have no intention of abiding it, because unjust laws are meant to be broken. But the reason I have gotten so involved in the fight for food freedom lately is ever mounting pressure by Maritime governments to pander to big corporate farming demands. Mark my word, if the Turkey Board does this unchallenged, other boards will come into being and attempt to limit small farmers’ ability to raise chickens, beef, potatoes, corn, and it will continue to expand as government legalizes new monopolies.

If you think this is “small potatoes”, let me cite the Gillete Corporation. That’s right, the maker of razors for shaving. Long ago when that company was created, many investors shunned it. After all, how could a company turn big bucks selling something so inexpensive and innocuous as razors? What those investors failed to realize is about everyone needs to shave now and then, and since old razors wore out, new ones would have to be bought. That would create constant and assured cash flow for Gillette. And thus a simple business grew into a mega-corporation. The same applies to food. Everyone has to eat, and lots of small cash flow turns very quickly into lots of cash.  Monsanto understands this. Dupont understands this. Maple Leaf understands this. The NS Turkey Marketing Board understands this. And if you want to be able to grow your own food, or buy it from local, wholesome sources, you better understand this, too, and stand for your local small farmer and market gardener, and right now!

(Just one more story of big corporate farming monopolies, this one about the Poultry Marketing Board of PEI.: )

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More Recent News On Nova Scotia’s Fight for Food Sovereignty

<<Lohr to Colwell: Come clean on allowing Nova Scotians to butcher their own poultry>>

HALIFAX, NS –As Thanksgiving approaches, Progressive Conservative Agriculture critic, John Lohr, says Liberal Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell needs to come clean about his position on allowing Nova Scotians to butcher their own poultry on their own property.

When challenged during Question Period yesterday in the House of Assembly, the Minister said he would not ban Nova Scotians from slaughtering their own chickens and turkeys.
That differs from comments the Minister made in the media previously. When asked whether he would make it illegal for Nova Scotians to butcher their own poultry, the Minister said “we may have no choice.”

“Why did the Minister say one thing last week and the complete opposite this week?” Lohr asked. “Either he isn’t being forthright with rural Nova Scotians about his plan to make it illegal for them to butcher their own poultry or he does not have a grasp of this file, a file which is inflaming rural Nova Scotians. Either way, Nova Scotians should be alarmed by this kind of incompetence.”

Lohr says this is an attack on rural Nova Scotians way of life and it’s hard to trust the Minister of Agriculture when his story changes so frequently.

This isn’t the first time Minister Colwell has been taken to task for being unclear with Nova Scotians.
In July, the Minister required to clarify his statements after throwing the lobster industry into turmoil by arbitrarily announcing a five cent levy on product without industry consultation.

“Serious questions are being raised about the Minister’s understanding of the agricultural and fisheries sectors in Nova Scotia,” said Lohr. “Our economy is at a critical crossroads and our resource sectors need a competent Minister at the helm. The Minister is quickly losing the confidence of Nova Scotians.”

***   ***   ***

I am not a political person.  I make no secret that I consider most politicians inept and self-serving, at best.  But the conduct of Nova Scotia’s Liberals has caused me to lose interest in them both locally and federally.  I will never cast a vote for a Liberal in the nation of Canada, where they seem to espouse the worst of both the American Republicans and Democrats.

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Nova Scotia Government’s Two Sets of Standards

Today's photo of the Northern Pulp mill. Some days, the smoke is so thick you can't even see the mill. The current Liberal government of Nova Scotia could not care less. There's corporate rears to kiss, after all.

Today’s photo of the Northern Pulp mill. Some days, the smoke is so thick you can’t even see the mill. The current Liberal government of Nova Scotia could not care less. There are corporate rears to kiss, after all.

Examining the standards of Nova Scotia government is a study in contrasts.  Take the mill just outside the village of Pictou.  That mill has been violating UN health standards and sickening surrounding people for decades.  It is singularly responsible for numerous leaks of toxic waste into the Pictou’s bay and expels air pollution with some chemicals ranging thousands of times over the legal limit.  Its violations have effectively been ignored by Nova Scotia’s government (currently the Liberals), and despite current public outrage regarding the mill (now operated under the auspices of Northern Pulp, a subsidiary of an Asian pulp company that has repeatedly come to international attention for illegal deforestation and environmental atrocities), the mill continues to operate as our government shows no real interest in forcing a resolution that is actually for the health and benefit of Nova Scotians.

One of many hidden cuttings of old growth hardwood forest that I know of happening in out of the way places around Nova Scotia.  (Photo taken September, 2014.)

One of many hidden cuttings of old growth hardwood forest that I know of happening in out of the way places around Nova Scotia. (Photo taken September, 2014.)

This example could easily be extended to the many resource-based industries that go on around the province.  Nova Scotia government effectively allows forestry to police itself.  With only about 1% of old forest remaining, NS government continues to allow the cutting of old forest.  Mining companies have created tar ponds that are now decades old, and these still fester upon the land near communities and must be cleaned up at public expense.

Nova Scotia governments bought into the call center scandal a couple decades back.  You might be wondering why this was a scandal.  Because these are low paying, high stress jobs, and the wages are low enough that between government subsidies to attract call centers and the benefits that must be supplemented to their employees, NS taxpayers were coming out in the red for every call center employee.

Under the NDP, there was a $200 million guaranteed loan given to a foreign corporation to open an industrial wind turbine factory in New Glasgow despite mounting evidence that wind turbines were a dead end for green power generation as their output is not large on average, nor is it reliable.  Despite waning global interest in the things, NS funneled more taxpayer money to yet another lost cause.  And what happened to that mill?  It was effectively shutdown by that foreign corporation almost as soon as it got going.  Anyone but me wonder what happened to that investment money?

The bottom line is that NS governments have allowed big corporate to take advantage of Nova Scotians health, safety and finances for decades, and to do so virtually without consequence.  In the latest example of governmental incompetence and corruption, the Liberal government received a complaint against Gordon Fraser who runs a small, family-operated abattoir for local small farmers.  The complaint was almost certainly from the NS Turkey Marketing board which the government gave a monopoly over turkeys to some years ago.  The Turkey Board wanted to assure that they are the sole monopoly holder over turkeys in the province.

Anyway, Gordon’s been running his abattoir for decades.  His work has never made anyone sick, nor have his customers complained.  But on the basis of the turkey board’s complaint that someone could remotely, possibly get sick some day, the NS government could not move fast enough to shut him down.  Effectively, if Nova Scotians complain of big corporate misconduct, government doesn’t care.  But if big corporations complain, our government (this time the Liberals) only ask, “What would you like me to do, sir!”  And then off goes our government, goose-stepping to big corporate orders.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Nova Scotia governments have two sets of law: one for big corporations and another for Nova Scotians.  The former basically gets an unlimited number of get out of jail cards.  The latter get to pay the piper.

We need better.

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It’s Time for the Nova Scotia Small Farm Federation

A pig flu spread through centralized feeding to millions of pigs around North America.  Click to see the CBC's article.

A pig flu spread through centralized feeding to millions of pigs around North America.  Click to see the CBC’s article.

Canadian and American farm and food agencies are funny things. Strongly driven to favor big corporations and centralization, they have pushed for decades the propaganda that centralizing how everything is grown is a good idea. And even though that push toward corporate centralization has resulted in hundreds of millions of pounds tainted meat, tomatoes with deadly E. coli, and many human deaths and illnesses over the last few decades, they still continue to insist it’s the best way. Yet, it is the antithesis of small, local farming which operates quietly, raising produce and feeding livestock in scattered ways from local resources so that organisms have minimal chance to share disease and contamination. Take the case of the pig flu that has killed millions of pigs in the USA and Canada over the last year. That was the result of centralizing pig feed sources. But in the small, local farm setting, what would have happened is a farmer, feeding his pigs from his own pastures and woods, may have noticed his pigs were getting sick and culled them–end of story. In fact, since this flu resulted from giving pigs feed laced with pig blood for protein, and small self-sustaining small farms use more natural feed sources, such as pasturage and woodlands, this mess would have been unlikely ever to start on a small farm.  Such a disaster as this can only happen because in the big corporate model millions of animals are raised in close confines on questionable, centralized and unnatural food sources.  In such circumstances, animals can be infected in a very short time, quickly creating an unstoppable landslide effect.

When your USDA or the Canadian CFIA insist all livestock and produce should be raised and produced in big, centralized conditions, it is only to cater to big corporate farming. The scientific evidence of the wisdom of this is pretty clear: it’s not a good thing.

But big corporate farming is the kind of agriculture Minister of Agriculture, Keith Colwell, envisions for Nova Scotia, and his motivation is no other than that age-old NS politician’s instinctive urge to suck up to big corporate, Nova Scotians be damned.

Since Nova Scotia’s all but useless politicians insist on sucking up to big corporate, I think it’s high time we Nova Scotians turn the table on them. It’s time to do more than just vote the last bunch of cons out only to be replaced by a new bunch of cons. It’s time we form a small farm federation, a legislating body for small farms, to ensure open entry of new small farmers, free competition, minimal government interference and impedance, protection from Nova Scotia’s numerous big corporate bullies, and protection of our traditional way of life. I am thinking the many thousands of small farms in Nova Scotia, united, would form a far larger and more powerful voting and policy-making body than any bullying special big corporate interest.

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A Call to Veterinarians for Facts

The CBC ran a recent article: Turkey Marketing Board defends decision against Gordon Fraser.  In it, they stated:

Ansems says food safety comes first. She says Fraser, or anyone, worried about the cost of that, should check with the provincial government about what’s required.

“That is one of the benefits of having an inspected process. It takes the bias out of the system. The expectation between customer and business owner has been removed from it. When it comes to food safety — there are no exceptions when it comes to the cost of food safety,” she says.

I’m calling this what it is: rhetoric and propaganda packaged to sound like selfless concern.

So, here’s the call:  The NS Turkey Marketing Board states that to butcher turkeys safely, they must be butchered separate from any other species of livestock, in a separate room with sinks, tables, cutting implements, etc.  So I am asking any veterinarian outside of Canada (to avoid bias) to give your professional opinion on whether it is necessary to butcher turkey’s from any other livestock to keep them safe from bacterial infection.  Or can poultry and indeed livestock animals of different species be butchered safely in the same area if the area is sanitized between operations?

Please forward this call to any veterinarians you may know.

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A Series of Suspicious Events (More Light On the NS Turkey Board’s & Keith Colwell’s Scam to Kill Small NS Farms)

Small farming: a wholesome, traditional way of life under attack in Nova Scotia.

Small farming: a wholesome, traditional way of life under attack in Nova Scotia.

New information came to light yesterday, and with it the chronology of the scam being run by the NS Turkey Board and the NS Minister of Agriculture, Keith Colwell, seems to be coming into focus.  I did not buy turkey poulets this year, but I learned that the Turkey Board required everyone in the province who bought turkey poulets to sign documents giving their names and addresses and swearing they would not sell turkeys.  (Funny how this just happened to happen just before an anonymous tip later in the year to shutdown small Nova Scotia abattoirs.  But we’ll get into all of that.)

Early Spring: As usual, thousands of small farmers all around the province of Nova Scotia make arrangements to buy their turkey poulets from local sellers such as feed and seed co-ops.  So far, all seems normal.

Mid to Late Spring: Those would-be small farmers arrive to purchase their poulets and discover that the NS Turkey Board is requiring them to sign a document affirming they will not sell any turkeys out-of-gate, even if legally butchered by a local certified abattoir.  I have put out several requests for anyone to point me to the regulations stating the NS Turkey Board can require anyone to sign to buy turkeys.  Nor has anyone been able to show me legislation stating they can prohibit farmers from the age-old tradition of selling livestock out-of-gate.  (If you know of such legislation, please point it out.)  At the same time, all those feed and seed stores are informed they can be sued if they do not enforce the signing of these wavers.  And for the first time ever, buyers of day old chickens for small farms are required to provide their names and addresses (I know, I was one of them.)

September: A small Pictou County family-run abattoir run by Gordon Fraser receives an anonymous complaint.  The complaint was ostensibly by a customer who didn’t like that he was butchering turkeys without a turkey board inspector on premises and entirely separate butchering facilities to butcher turkeys.  At roughly the same time, those few small local abattoirs remaining around the province received similar instructions to cease butchering turkeys.


As one analyzes these events, it becomes clear that there is either a series or incredibly unlikely events falling into place one after the other, or that this is part of a carefully orchestrated plot to attack small farmers and build and reinforce corporate farming monopolies.  I believe it was hatched (no pun intended) by the Turkey Board with possibly the poultry board and undoubtedly the NS Minister of Agriculture, and they thought it would slip through unnoticed.

In early spring when small farmers were putting in their orders, all seemed normal.  Then the Turkey Board required everyone to sign this questionable document swearing they won’t sell any turkeys despite NS laws allowing small farmers to sell a small amount of meat out-of-gate.  Why did this happen?  The reason is the same as why the NS Liquor Commission a couple years back, under the auspices of the NDP government, tried to require all home brewing stores to sign an innocuous looking little document registering them with the NS Liquor Commission–because it would have created precedent that those persons recognize themselves under the Liquor Commission.  When home brewing stores refused to sign it, the LC promptly launched a media campaign against them, asserting they were selling alcoholic beverages without taxation and license.  (This is similar to the Turkey Board’s campaign against Gordon Fraser now.)  This is not true: wine and ale are made from fruit juice and grain, and that is what home brewing stores sell–food stuffs.  But the real intent of the NS Liquor Commission was revealed.  They wanted to expand their monopoly.  Likewise, what the NS Turkey Board is attempting to do is establish that even small farms assent that they come under the auspices of the Turkey Board.  And unfortunately, their covert ally, NS Min. of Ag., Keith Colwell, let it slip that the ultimate plan was to require all small farmers to send their livestock to large butchering facilities, even for only personal use.  But why large abattoirs?  We’ll get to that later.

So a few months later, many small farmers are ready to have their turkeys butchered.  They bring them to local abattoirs as has been the tradition in Nova Scotia for centuries (a tradition that has been safe, mind you).  As if magically timed, an anonymous complaint arrives about Gordon Fraser’s little family run abattoir.  Apparently, Gordon was guilty of the terrible crime of not having an entirely separate turkey butchering facility for turkeys.

(A Side Note: Now I’ve been calling around, speaking with vets far away and unaware of our situation.  When I have asked them why I should need a totally separate butchering facility for turkeys as opposed to other birds, they could not even understand the point of the question. One stated it would be like requiring a separate operating room for cats and dogs, or saying a vet who treat collies was not qualified to work on German shepherds.  In short, they thought it was an incredibly stupid idea.)

But what’s more, isn’t it peculiar, the mysterious timing of this “anonymous” phone call.  Right after local farmers all around the province have finished raising their birds.  My interpretation of this is that this is a carefully planned two-prong attack.  You see, anyone who raises meat turkeys knows they don’t live long.  They have to be butchered promptly upon reaching full weight.  For those without the constitution to kill and butcher their own turkeys, now they then have to send them to a big corporate abattoir, which begins to accustom the small farmers to the additional expense and hassle.  And it sends a message to small farmers.  Forgive the language, but it is effectively: “Don’t fuck with the Turkey Board or we’ll find ways to make you suffer.”

Then, in an amazing display of special interpretations of the law when it comes to corporate vested interests, when the media asks officials who actually filed this anonymous complaint, the government response is it’s confidential.  Hmmm.  So, filing a complaint against an abattoir is like when a battered child files a complaint against an abuser, or like when a person files an anonymous complaint against a crack house.  The complainants get anonymity?  Because what,?  Elderly, small and polite Gordon Fraser is going to go rough them up?  (No offense, Gordon.)  Give me a break!  We all know the truth: someone from the Turkey Board filed the “anonymous” complaint as part of an orchestrated plan to reduce small farmer’s access to growing their own meat, and this was timed to maximize the degree of problems it created for small farmers.

The Numbers: There are 19 registered turkey producers around Nova Scotia who produce some 4.5 million turkey hens per year.  There are a few thousand small farmers who produce a few dozen thousand turkeys per year.  While the Turkey Board has already been given a ridiculous and questionable monopoly over a traditional farmer’s livestock, it is not enough for them.  They need to erase even the small percentage of private small farm producers.

Keith Colwell: So, along the way, Keith Colwell danced their tune.  <Why, yes, we may even have to stop small farms from butchering any of their own livestock for themselves, in the interest of their own safety of course, because there could be bacteria.>  How convenient, and what a lie, given I still cannot find the apparent sicknesses and deaths from small farm practices that Keith feels it’s important to stop, but if I Google tainted meat, I can find hundreds of cases of death and illness, and hundreds of millions of pounds of tainted meat recalls from “safe” big corporate farms and abattoirs.

So, I said why would the Turkey Board be interested in forcing small farmers to use big abattoirs.  In a previous article, I asserted the government would be interested because it creates new levels of taxation.  The Turkey Board would be interested either due to investment with those operations or because (and probably more likely) it simply creates a new level of unnecessary hardship and expense for the small farmer.

Is This Conspiracy Theory Madness?  Small farming as a way of life has been under systematic attack by corporate forces for decades.  This is not conspiracy theory, it just is.  From Monsanto’s attempts to wipe out competition to the NS dairy boards propaganda about the dangers of raw milk and small dairies.  Seldom in history have elements of small farming simply been swept away.  Usually, it’s been steadily chipped away until one day folk in other parts of the world (such as regions of New England and the American mid west) realized they could not so much as raise a chicken on their acreage, or in some cases grow produce in their yard.  People not in the know tend to think, so what is the big deal?  It is a big deal because people should have a right to choose how they want to live, how they want to eat, and know where and how what they eat was produced.  Monopolies are created by piece-by-piece taking choice away.

And that’s the Turkey Board’s gambit.  I am convinced the events are too conveniently lined up to be coincidence.  And in typical NS government fashion, pandering to big corporate with no consideration for small business or farms, Keith Colwell is going right along with them.

A Final Thought: Keith Colwell asserted he may have no choice but to enforce the Turkey Board’s plans.  I find that the most bizarre and ridiculous statement I have heard in a long time.  You see, the mill now run by Northern Pulp has been hugely violating air and water safety for decades.  Apparently the government did not have to enforce any kind of safety regulation though there is hard evidence that those kind of pollution levels wreck environments and make people sick.  The NS government allows loggers to literally rape our forests, as discussed in a recent Chronicle-Herald piece declaring NS forestry to be virtually lawless.  Big corporate abattoirs are responsible for many deaths and hundreds of millions of pounds of tainted meat due to their “mass it all in one place” butchering practices, but they also seem to be okay in the eyes of the government.  But apparently on the word of a single anonymous tipster the NS Minister of Agriculture cannot move fast enough to further restrict Nova Scotia’s small farmers.

Is it not clear? There is one set of rules for big corporate interests, and another for Nova Scotians.

Okay, the Real Final Thought: You know, you have to have a clean record to drive.  You have to have an education to be a doctor, a therapist or a welder.  You have to have a spotless legal record to work in a school or buy a firearm.  But you don’t seem to need any of the above to run for office in Canada.  Our Minister of Environment knows nothing about environment–he has an MBA.  The PEI Minister of Environment, as best I can determine from her website, has a real estate license.  Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, is a crack user. Does anyone in our governments actually know what they are doing, or have we Canadians just let our governments become the playthings of the self-serving and underqualified?

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