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?