CFIA Attacks a Farmer?

As we watch the unfolding of the extensive beef recall at XL Foods in Alberta and begin to understand that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is possibly not as fool proof as they would like us to believe, I feel it is important to look at another situation where they have made some grave errors in judgement that have cost a farmer money, heartache and the loss of her life’s work.

An Ontario farmer, Montana Jones, has been working with a heritage breed of sheep  to improve the genetics and keep this breed from extinction.  Her Shropshire sheep had a rare bloodline that she was working to preserve.  There is a group of people in Canada working to keep heritage animals from going extinct so that in future we have the benefit of these hardier genetics.  The registered charitable organization that works with these animals is called Rare Breeds Canada.  This group believes that heritage breeds are important to preserve for many reasons, including they tend to be more tolerant of weather changes, able to fatten better on pasture, have better mothering instinct etc.  Animals that have been bred to live in today’s industrial situations have been adapted to eat grains and other foods not natural to them, to live in crowded barns and fatten quickly.  They also have weaker immune systems because of the way they are raised.  Our future is uncertain due to weather changes and virulent bacteria’s and super bugs.  We have no way of knowing, at this time in history, how valuable these older, more hardy genetics may be to future generations.  By eliminating these genetic characteristics, we are in danger of narrowing the genetic pool to such an extent that we set ourselves up for catastrophic loss in the future.  This is a quote from this group.  “Heritage breeds are thrifty, easy keepers – are disease resistant, birth easily, and have superior mothering abilities.  Chefs and cheese makers all over the world are excited about the superior taste of heritage meat.”

The story is long and takes many turns ending in the CFIA destroying a flock of sheep that all tested negative for scrapie, except for one which they claim had scrapie and yet will not allow third party testing to prove this correct.   Does this farmer not deserve to have a sample of that brain tissue to have tested elsewhere to be sure that this was actually on her farm and not planted there to justify what the CFIA has done?   The flock of sheep was destroyed because they carried a genotype called QQ.   This genotype is thought to be more susceptible to scrapie than other genotypes.  This does not mean that all sheep with this genotype will develop scrapie any more than a woman with a breast cancer gene will automatically develop breast cancer.  Did that stop the CFIA from continuing to kill this farmers sheep?  NO!    The CFIA did indeed descend on this farm again on September 20,2012 to kill 4 of the 7 remaining heritage lambs.  Now the ridiculous part of this is that three of those lambs were male.  The CFIA website says quite clearly that male sheep cannot spread scrapie.  Here is what the website says as of October 4, 2012 and here is the link to that page:

How is scrapie transmitted and spread?

Scrapie is spread from an infected female to her offspring at birth, or to other animals exposed to the birth environment, through fluid and tissue from the placenta.

Males can contract scrapie, but they do not transmit the disease to other animals.

Research shows that sheep with a particular genetic makeup are more at risk of developing scrapie.”


So then why take and kill the three male lambs?  Scrapie is unlikely to show up before 2 years of age and Health Canada allows lambs under 12 months to be used for meat regardless of what genotype they are.  Health Canada also states that scrapie infected sheep are not a danger to humans.   Therefore, the question that begs to be asked is, what was the hurry to attack this farmer again and destroy more valuable genetics when the remaining lambs were not a threat to anyone?

The lawyer representing Montana Jones is Karen Selick from the Canadian Constitution Foundation.  Ms. Selick gave a talk at a support event at the farm on September 30, 2012.   It is evident errors in judgement have been made by the CFIA and this farmers constitutional rights have been challenged.   It is really important that people listen to this talk to understand the depth of this.

The heartbreaking story is told best by Montana herself and is at this link  The entire story is documented on this website.

On September 30, 2012, a large group of concerned citizens (almost 300) came together on Montana Jones farm for LifeStock 2012.  A film was made of some of the talks on that day and much was learned about just how far the CFIA has gone over and above what is logical and reasonable in this case.  Many of us came away from LifeStock even more worried about a government agency using their power to go too far in the name of protecting the public.  Please watch this important video and form your own opinion

Are we dealing with an agency that has a vendetta against this farmer because she went public with this story?  These recent actions of the CFIA certainly could be interpreted that way.


Margo McIntosh, RHN, RNCP, CGP

Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner.

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One comment

  1. Gaille Lieberthal

    The ‘cfia’ (small letters because they are small minded) spent a lot of time killing healthy animals and can’t even tell that the Alberta meat packing plant selling poor quality food is in violation of health laws. You wouldn’t have to destroy good LIVEstock to be able to be informed of poor health tests at a meat plant.

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