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.

Interpretation:

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

  1. suzanne1953

    Cliff, thank you for your investigative reporting. I do have one question maybe you could help clear up. At the very end of the interview, he added that in the future Nova Scotians could be stopped from butchering their own meatbirds in their own backyards and then said, “Because of this issue coming forward and the way it’s come forward, we may have no choice.” What is he talking about? It sounds like a threat of some kind, or punishment — “since you made a stink out of this, you are going to have to pay the price.” I think this part more than anything else in that interview put my suspicious hackles up.

    • My personal guess is that Colwell’s statement wasn’t meant so much to be punitive, but rather a slip of the tongue about a larger plan to prevent small farmers from raising other kinds of livestock in the province, piece by piece, in favor of big corporate operations over the coming years. It’s so hard to tell what Canadian politicians are really up to since transparency is something they often go to great lengths to avoid.

    • parker noonan

      I agree it does sound like childish punishment. Read paragraph 10 in the Turkey board regulations . We have been lied to. We actually could have sold 24 turkeys legally without punishment. They abused their power by making us sign on to a law that didn’t exist and I am considering taking them to small claims court to recoup my loses.

      • I think small farmers should launch a massive civil suit against the turkey board. I’d take part in that as a consultant, though I can lay no claim as I haven’t raised turkeys in years simply because I prefer ducks, geese and chickens.

  2. It may have been both, I have heard or been told that he has made 3 statements now that seem to be punitive in nature. Great article.

  3. Lloyd Hussey

    Is there a petition in place to put a stop to this? I will sign it!!!

    • Thank you, Lloyd. The petition is available at many feed and seed stores around the province.

      • Crystal

        You may want to look into using an online platform, like change.org.

      • Unfortunately, online petitions have no legal standing. They are only measures of interest, and NS governments have never shown much interest in NS people short of forcing them through legal means and votes.

      • Linda Loth

        Could you publish the wording of the petition on this site? I would be happy to make copies of the petition and try to get signatures at local (Lunenburg, Bridgewater, Blockhouse) farmers’ markets.

      • I will see if I can get a copy of the petition on this site. Also, you can communicate with the person behind the petition at this link:

        https://www.facebook.com/FoodSovereigntyNS

    • John Canning

      available at most local feed stores

  4. Lorraine

    Is it true that one of the ladies that went to Gordon Frasers place to shut him down is one of the large turkey producers, I read this online in one of the statements made by someone else.

    • I don’t know. They are keeping it all hush-hush. Like I said, our government avoids transparency, then blames us for not trusting them.

  5. What about an online petition through change.org?

  6. So what do we do now, this is so far out of hand I have no idea where to start. Sit back and wait for the big producers to have total control?? I read the Ivany Report and all that should happen to help Nova Scotia prosper, and we live with this foolishness. There is an election agenda and than a free for all as soon as they get elected. It does not seem to matter what party it is. If you do elect an honourable person, they quickly discover they either tow the party line or become so frustrated they give up or leave. before long it won’t be just our young people leaving, if you want to eat healthy food, that you know where it comes from, how it was raised, or produced, Nova Scotia may not be the place to live.

  7. Jack Travis

    Excellent reporting Cliff! It would be interesting to know if the NS Turkey Board is registered as a lobby group or affiliated with a lobby group. I bet there has been a group lobbying Keith Colwell and the Liberals for years with the hope the Liberals would someday form government. In my opinion these recent events have been years in the planning and are just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Perhaps, though having watched the antics of numerous political parties since coming to NS, I can’t really say I feel any one party is any better than any other.

  8. Deborah Boltz

    I emailed all the Liberal MLAs last nite on this issue and have heard back from several. I am still unclear as to the issues. One office wrote the following: Dear Deborah:

    This is to acknowledge receipt of your email to Minister Younger regarding regulations for food processors in Nova Scotia.

    In response to your comments, food safety for consumers is of the utmost concern to the government. Specifically, Section 15 of the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia requires processors of turkeys for resale in Nova Scotia to be licensed. To be licensed, a processor must be inspected and certified by the province or the federal government. There is no charge for a processor to be provincially inspected or licensed. Staff of the Department of Agriculture are encouraging processors to become inspected and certified, and are available to explain the process. Of course, Nova Scotians who grow and slaughter turkeys for their own consumption are not required to be licensed, and there are no plans to change that; however, they cannot give away or sell the turkeys to others.

    Nova Scotians must have confidence in their food system and food processors must adhere to regulations to ensure food provided in Nova Scotia is safe for consumers. Food safety is a shared responsibility between producers, customers, and regulators. Once a complaint is received from a regulating body (i.e. the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia), it is the government’s duty to inspect the facility.

    The government supports small business owners but, at the same time, must also protect consumers.

    We appreciate your feedback and, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

    • Cathy

      The reply to your e-mail is leaving me a bit confused, “Of course, Nova Scotians who grow and slaughter turkeys for their own consumption are not required to be licensed, and there are no plans to change that; however, they cannot give away or sell the turkeys to others.” Does this also apply to a cooked turkey? So, I can’t invite family and friends in for Thanksgiving dinner? What if a neighbour has a death in the family? I can’t cook and bring them food?

      • Good thoughts, and indicative of how ridiculous the NS pseudo-regulation is. It is merely a tool to ensure the turkey board’s monopoly.

    • Nicki Doyle

      Hi Deborah,
      Which department did that letter come from? Younger is saying it wasn’t him or his staff. I’d like to know who sent it.

  9. A keir

    Not sure if you’ve seen this but requiring a vet cert to sell a cat seems like the same thing as getting people to sign their name for the turkeys. Soon you will not be able to own or sell any animal freely. I do not support this kind of legislation at all.

    Amendments to Animal Protection Act Introduced
    Agriculture
    October 9, 2014 3:39 PM
    Government introduced amendments to the Animal Protection Act today, Oct. 9, to make it an offence to abandon an animal.

    The legislation will also require a veterinarian’s certificate of health to sell a cat and give the Agriculture Minister authority to appoint organizations or interested municipalities to enforce the Animal Protection Act for companion animals.

    “I know animal protection is as important to Nova Scotians as it is to me. Animal abuse is intolerable,” said Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. “I am committed to doing all I can as minister to make sure that we have the proper legislation and regulations in place so companion animals in this province are properly cared for and protected.”

    Broadening enforcement to allow for municipalities and other organizations, in addition to the SPCA, means there will be a variety of options to ensure the best approach for animal protection across the province.

    These proposed amendments come after a number of public consultations. Mr. Colwell met with many groups and more than 300 Nova Scotians provided input for the new regulations. Standards of care for cats and dogs are being finalized and will be fully implemented later this fall.

    FOR BROADCAST USE:

    Amendments to the Animal Protection Act were introduced

    today (October 9th) to make it an offence to abandon an animal.

    The legislation will also require a veterinarian’s

    certificate of health to sell a cat and give the Agriculture

    Minister authority to appoint organizations or interested

    municipalities to be responsible to enforce the Animal

    Protection Act for companion animals.

    These proposed amendments come after a number of public

    consultations.

    -30-

    Media Contact: Krista Higdon
    902-424-8860

    • The population of strays and cats being dropped off near rural folks homes will certainly increase. This law can do nothing but make cruelty, for young cats, particularly, worse. How many people do you know can afford do pay a vet, before giving an animal away? And enforcement will be near impossible, government has to get the collective heads out of their …..

  10. Kathy Kenny

    I call BS. First of all who would get turkeys done in Sept? So that was made up, no customer complained. In other interviews inspector said it was another processor that complained. The closest place with a licence is out past River John -over an hour from Gordon’s & charges over twice what he did per turkey. Nice little boost in business. There are 13 turkey farmers that make up the turkey marketing board. Someone should name them. What exactly are they worried about? Hobby farmers know there is no money in raising a few in your backyard, It’s about knowing what you are eating.
    Under the current legislation a processor means to alter by any means , -this includes cutting up. So then why are the big grocery stores exempt? If you request a turkey cut in half they will do it. This is processing. Inspector said they are exempt.
    Gordon’s business existed before the turkey marketing board & they should grant him an exemption –
    It’s not just about getting a licence. Once licensed he would have to pay an inspector to be on site every time a turkey is & they want him to build a new building.

  11. James

  12. Pingback: Nova Scotia Turkey Farming | Canadees Meisje's Thoughts on Agriculture

  13. mark

    you know you had me going along with you , till the rant about the NDP …. the conservatives started that way back about the the wine thing …go back to closet

    • Well, I happen to personally know a home brewing shop merchant and it was under the NDP that the LC tried to slip into authority and levies on home brewing, at least the most recent time. And it was under the NDP, just weeks til the elections–as it was being fought through legal channels–that the NDP premier ordered the LC to drop it. And if you follow that link from the National Post you can read all about it.

      http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/12/20/joe-oconnor-new-nova-scotia-law-lets-liquor-corporation-shut-down-in-store-winemakers/

      Anyway, don’t mistake me for favoring one political party over another. I find they’re all pretty much ethically tarnished in this province. If the NDP is your favorite and you cannot stand to have them criticized, I’m not the guy you want to read. I am not bigoted; I distrust all politicians equally.

  14. Don Cameron

    Great to read your article. I agree with what you have written 100%!

  15. Kevin smith

    Boycott the supermarkets from buying any turkeys, there are other dishes as good as turkey. Create a upset in turkey sales.

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