Why Keith Colwell’s Secret Love Affair With the NS Turkey Board & Big Corporate Farming

The small farm is a world of difference of the inhumane, concentration camp conditions of the modern industrial livestock farm, which is Colwell's vision for Nova Scotia.

The small farm is a world of difference of the inhumane, concentration camp conditions of the modern industrial livestock farm, which is Colwell’s vision for Nova Scotia.

Digging further into the real reasons why the Nova Scotia Minister of Agriculture, Keith Colwell, is throwing his weight behind the NS Turkey Board and into a politically risky bid to kill small farming in Nova Scotia by requiring small farmers to have their livestock butchered at big corporate abattoirs, the whole scam becomes obvious.  Money!

Let me explain.

If a small farmer raises his own livestock and feeds it primarily on his own pasture, woods and meadows, the province doesn’t see a penny out of it.  Governments, especially Canadian governments, feel they have a right to have a hand in your pocket at all times.  From Colwell’s perspective, that’s not acceptable.

Now, if a small farmer buys livestock and feed (perhaps from a co-op), the province makes some HST on those transactions.  But that’s only 15%, and still not acceptable.

Let’s look at what happens if Colwell gets his way.  Any small farmer is going to have to send his livestock to a big corporate abattoir.  And in the grand scheme, here are all the steps of hidden taxation:

  1. The guy driving the livestock truck and the employees at the abattoir are paying out taxes on their income.
  2. There is a large amount of tax being paid on the fuel for the otherwise unnecessary transport of the livestock.
  3. The abattoir is paying taxes on its operations and maintenance and overall income.
  4. While there may not be HST on food, there will be HST on the driver’s bill and the butchering plant’s services.
  5. There will be HST on any packaging and storage services.

In short, Colwell’s plan creates at least five hidden levels of taxation.  Colwell is trying to sell this on the entire farce that it is dangerous due to bacteria to raise and butcher livestock on the small farm or at local abattoirs.  Seriously, when was the last time you read of a meat recall or even deaths of a local family from eating their own farm-raised and butchered meat?

Now, here’s how the NS Turkey Board got in bed with Colwell:  They fed him a story about how much more money the province could make if people were forced to buy their turkeys, and if small farmers in general were forced to use big corporate abattoirs.  They fed him a story about how safe big corporate abattoirs are, completely skipping over the simple fact that crowding any organisms into close quarters in high stress conditions creates a haven for the spread of disease, and skipping over the fact that industrial livestock farms and big abattoirs only evade this by prophylactic administration of massive doses of antibiotics and constantly attempting to sterilizing a habitually filthy work site.  They told Keith Colwell that after it was passed, he could be the hero that created jobs in Nova Scotia, and that–naturally–would get him votes and further his career aspirations.

In filthy neck-and-neck battery farming conditions, animals are prone to infection and the quality of the meat is far poorer, as are the livestock's living conditions.  This, too, is Colwell and the Turkey Board's vision for the future of farming in Nova Scotia.

In filthy neck-and-neck battery farming conditions, animals are prone to infection and the quality of the meat is far poorer, as are the livestock’s living conditions. This, too, is Colwell and the Turkey Board’s vision for the future of farming in Nova Scotia.

Now here is the real truth.  Large industrial livestock farming is inherently filthy.  Animals are kept from disease primarily by injecting them with massive doses of medications long before they actually need it.  In fact, in any large farming operation, without those meds, it is safe to say a vast number of livestock would never survive to butchering age.  The medicines and chemical dosages render the meat unfit for human consumption.  Go to any industrial livestock farm and analyze the animals.  They will be riddled with antibiotics and carcinogenic growth hormones and legally unfit for human consumption.  In fact, the only way meat from industrial farms can be rendered fit for human consumption is by trying to get the livestock off the drugs for the last week or two before butchering in order to let most of the chemicals pass from its system.  Livestock are raised in crowded, inhumane conditions that may be likened to a Nazi concentration camp.  Many animals never see the sun.  Some spend their entire lives in tiny containers to keep them from moving in order that they build up weight faster.

When it is time to butcher a group of animals, they are packed into transport trucks as thick as can be managed.  They are transported, sometimes hundreds of miles under such conditions, to the abattoir.  Often animals die due to the stress of the transport.  Then they are held in feedlots, again packed neck and neck, and that’s where they try to get them off the chemicals needed to even keep them alive under such horrid conditions.  The animals smell the blood, sense the death, and live in terror til the day they are trod down the line to the butchering operations.  Animals are lined up, killed, and ripped apart, and often it’s not humane.  I’ve seen some of these operations where the animals are being cut apart before they are even dead.  I think even livestock animals deserve humane treatment, but even if you’re unconcerned about that, stressed animals do not produce quality meat.

The corporate abattoir, like the industrial livestock farm, is a virtual petri dish of infection for any number of reasons. The animals are held in close quarters.  They are not strong healthy animals with natural resistance, as one sees from wholesomely, humanely raised animals on the small farm.  Conditions are mortally stressful, which alone can weaken and kill livestock.  And–perhaps most significant–because tens of thousands of animals will pass through these plants each month, inevitably some will carry infection and in such conditions it will spread like wildfire, just as flus spread in the packed conditions of the contemporary public school classroom.

This is Keith Colwell’s and the NS Turkey Board’s plan for farming in Nova Scotia.  I will absolutely and positively declare and swear an oath to the fact that it has nothing to do with what is healthy, better or ethically right either for animal or human welfare.  Their plan has to do with one thing and one thing only: $$$.

Northern Pulp, like many Nova Scotia big businesses, merely ignores laws and regulations.  Instead, our government tries to make itself look effective by suppressing small businesses and farms.

Northern Pulp, like many Nova Scotia big businesses, merely ignores laws and regulations relating to safety. Instead, our government tries to make itself look effective by suppressing small businesses and farms.

I find it amazing that in Nova Scotia, our government cannot find the wherewithal to curtail the massive pollution wreaked upon the environment by operations such as Northern Pulp in Pictou, which has violated international air and water safety standards for decades.  Nor can the province seem to get mines to clean up their messes or even keep foreign companies from dumping derelict ships on our shores.  They tell us their hands are constrained by the law.  But when it comes to suppressing small businesses and small farms, their have no end of genius in finding obscure regulations to enforce and in creating new and dysfunctional regulation.

The real question is, knowing this, what will you do?

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Categories: Uncategorized | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Why Keith Colwell’s Secret Love Affair With the NS Turkey Board & Big Corporate Farming

  1. Cal

    good comments Cliff, forwarded to Karla MacFarlane. Is there a list somewhere of turkey producers who operate through the turkey marketing board, how can we identify these products?

  2. We WILL remember what they are doing during the next election. As most of the small producers and local butchers are going to be forced out of business – the loss of tax dollars from all the little guys are going to be far greater than the taxes paid by the big guys as they have far more write offs than the small operations. I guess the guys at the Turkey Marketing board must be taking lessons from the Milk Marketing Board that keep the price of milk at almost twice what all the other provinces. But I guess the province doesn’t care about all the people that these new rules will put on the un-employment line (oh but it’s the Feds that will take care of the payments for them). But the Provincial income tax that they will lose will far outweigh the additional income from the Big guys.

  3. scottwamboldt

    It will take more than that to get him elected again.

    • Given the parade of unqualified, special interest nitwits they rolled out last time, I will never vote for them again. Nor the Conservatives. Nor the NDP. They’ve all been sad disappointments.

  4. Just to clarify one small point for those who raise turkeys for their own table, NSFA’s latest newsletter says that it will remain legal for farmers to butcher their own turkeys, or to have a third party come to the farm to butcher them, as long as it’s for the farm family’s personal consumption. Obviously, I still find the attack on small abattoirs unacceptable.

    • This was a concession they made simply because it was illegal for them to try to enforce otherwise, namely because I, a fellow named Wesley and many others told them straight up we were butchering turkeys, giving them to friends and we wanted them to take us to court. They really, really don’t want to take this to court because it doesn’t matter what rules they make, you can’t enforce an illegal rule.

  5. Thanks for all your work on this, Cliff.

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