Farmed and Dangerous??

 The Shorter Version

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Apparently I am farmed and dangerous…

But I am not a criminal. I’m a shepherd, farmer and writer who has been preserving rare Shropshire sheep for the last 12 years, and farming various other heritage breeds and vegetables for the last 30.

Then the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) killed my beautiful ewes and their unborn lambs to find out if they were healthy. They were.

They were also rare and pregnant. Now they are dead.

The CFIA ignored over 5,000 people who signed a petition to stop them . Their policy must change to protect our heritage breeds and heirloom seeds—I need to keep going and ensure they don’t destroy me, my farm or other small farms.

The domino effect since has been devastating, its been a downward spiral from their first raid, and worse with every invasion since. I keep telling myself “There are worse things”, and I keep going.

The CFIA charged myself and raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and 2 others with numerous criminal charges including conspiracy, for allegedly trying to save Canada’s heritage sheep and preserve our country’s agricultural biodiversity.

I barely scraped through winter and now, I face imminent foreclosure and an astonishing $100,000. Dollar legal defense fee for the upcoming criminal trial. I have no income, no transportation, am battling depression and post traumatic stress.

If convicted, I face up to 12 YEARS IN JAIL and fines of $1.5 million.

People ask me how I can stand all the stress and pressure. I’m not always sure I can. But I hold the thought that what the CFIA has done is so very wrong, and what they continue to do is so very wrong.

If I lose the farm—they win. And that is just wrong…another wrong added to the CFIA’s long list of nonsensical wrongs.

It’s not easy to admit, but pride aside—I need help.

Please help spread word of this situation

More people need to know what our government is doing with the power we have vested in them, on the pretence of protecting us. It’s up to all of us to change any and all unreasonable government policies that harm our environment, control our freedom and rights in real food and farming choices, and destroy our agricultural biodiversity. This uncomfortable chapter of mine is just a detail—I’m not going to lay down just because I’m cold or broke or steamrollered by an unjust government. I’m standing up.

I appreciate the encouragement of so many who have been following this story…it has made all the difference to me. It constantly reminds me that we are not alone…no matter how different our personal challenges. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, but it IS happening, and it needs to stop.

Please help me keep my home – help me keep the farm going. Any support you can offer WILL make a difference!

You can find the whole story here on this  ShropshireSheep.org  site, and just click on the red tab above at top pf page for info and updates on the BLOG,  and visit the Save Our Shrops Facebook Page . The farm Facebook page is Wholearth Farmstudio. With your help, we’ll breathe life back into it, and make it whole once again.

 

Thank-you so much…

please help spread word of this situation and share.

If you’d like to offer support you can do so here:

GoFundMe.com/FarmedAndDangerous

 

 The Longer Story

Why did they kill them?  The details are here…

Along with other heritage breed livestock, I raise Heritage Shropshire sheep, a breed that is on the Rare Breeds Canada Endangered livestock list. The British genetics in my Wholearth flock had pedigrees dating back to the early 1900′s when the first British stock was imported here. Despite protests from the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the CFIA wiped out the sheep and all my years of dedicated genetic work. The CFIA have paid ZERO compensation to me for destroying my healthy animals nor offered to replace them from English breeding stock. There are now less than 80 registered ewes in Canada.

How could this happen?

Three years ago the CFIA swooped down on my little heritage farmstead and declared that a ewe I sold many years prior (to a livestock hauler and farmer in Alberta) had tested positive for a sheep disease called Scrapie. There had only been 10 cases in all of Canada the year before, and it’s not a human health risk.  The Scrapie infected sheep did not have the traceability I.D. ear tag that was there when I sold it, apparently the owner “didn’t have it”, but CFIA were told it was originally my sheep. The CFIA agreed it was quite possible that it had been infected in the time since it left my farm.

Scrapie is easy to spot, and my flock NEVER had a single sign or symptom. The CFIA went ahead and conducted live tests that have an 88% accuracy rate in detecting the disease. The ‘dead’ test on obex brain tissue has only slightly higher accuracy. As I predicted…ALL tests came back negative. But that wasn’t good enough. The CFIA issued an order to kill them anyway.

I offered many other risk-free alternatives and suggested we work together to find out if indeed any illness had ever been in the flock. “Kill first—ask questions later” is not the best option to conserve a rare breed.

The CFIA did not even respond to my proposal.

The CFIA wouldn’t listen to over 5,000 petitioners on Change.org either.

The CFIA is not pleased that I made public their unjust actions public knowledge.

I am horrified at the degree of harm a government agency can do with an incredible amount of money and a superfluous number of relatively incompetent employees.  Who was I to suggest that our government re-examine their protocols regarding agricultural biodiversity? I was advised to roll over, let the CFIA kill my healthy sheep, take their compensation money and move on.  Other commercial sheep producers did…why shouldn’t I?

Why? Because their policy to kill healthy rare sheep…ANY endangered livestock for that matter… is very wrong.

They demanded I hire an excavator and have a deep grave dug, and said they would kill them before my eyes and leave me to bury them all. A 20-foot pit was dug at the top of my hill overlooking the farm…the hill they grazed peacefully for so many years.

Then the CFIA told me they changed plans, and decided to load my sheep for a stressful 5 hour transport to a killing facility at a pet food plant near Ottawa, and that I would have top pay the bill.

There were many calls, emails and messages from outraged people saying they’d take, hide or move the sheep to protect them.

The CFIA arrived early April 2 to kill the flock, but the sheep were gone, with only a note left.

Months later they were discovered on a distant farm, and CFIA killed them and their newborns. All of the tests came back negative.

My farm is still in quarantine, CFIA has effectively halted my farm income and ensured that each day revolves around them, and defending my right to live peacefully. They have attacked, stripped bare, twisted up and torn down—it’s non-sensical…am I that much of a threat?  I was just quietly living and farming with a few animals, growing vegetables, selling at local farmers’ market…well, I was. Not now.

The CFIA continued to issue press releases announcing the high risk to the nation and “dangerous” nature of the missing sheep situation.  The CFIA claimed they understood what a severe impact their procedures had on “affected” producers (implying that my destroyed flock they killed had indeed been infected with disease—they weren’t) …and how difficult it must be and announced publicly that they properly compensate producers for their losses. Simply not true.

Armed with search warrants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigators and Ontario Provincial Police raided my home, Michael Schmidt’s and two others on August 2nd, 2012.

The CFIA charged myself and raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and 2 others with numerous criminal offences including conspiracy, for allegedly trying to save Canada’s heritage sheep and preserve our country’s agricultural biodiversity.

If convicted, I face up to 12 YEARS IN JAIL and fines of $1.5 million. Apparently I am FARMED (with truth) & DANGEROUS (to an unjust government).

Now, I face imminent foreclosure and an astonishing $100,000. legal defense fee for the upcoming criminal trial.

If I lose the farm—they win.  And that is just wrong…another wrong added to the CFIA’s long list of nonsensical wrongs.

I keep reminding myself there are far worse things to endure.

The domino effect of the CFIA’s invasion meant selling off my heritage turkey breeding stock because I had no way to feed them. My beautiful pastured Tamworth pigs too, and two white Percheron mares.  My farm truck died last fall. Then my car followed suit in December.

I tried to make light of the notion of being a secluded hermit with no way off the farm…tried to make it just another challenge. I sequestered myself away.

Christmas was a dismal blur.

All through winter a kind neighbour brought hay to feed the few remaining animals.  I had wanted to sell the other sheep because I couldn’t afford to care for them—CFIA wouldn’t allow them to leave. Since the firewood ran out I’ve been burning the little scrap ends from a nearby pallet manufacturer. Some nights it’s been 7° Celsius, sleeping in hat and fully clothed layers cuddled up with dogs under mounds of blankets.

To my sheer horror, a rat…a FEW bold rats…appeared in my kitchen the day before the CFIA raided my home with a search warrant, as if to herald their arrival. It took a long time to rid the rodents from my life. The CFIA, however, are still in it.

No, it’s no way to live.

Depression doesn’t introduce itself on arrival. It’s the uninvited dark guest that you one day realize has been there for some time. I considered asking it to leave since I realized it moved in with the CFIA.

Since their raids, I launch into anxiety attacks whenever I hear a car (is it THEM again?), with pounding chest pain, shortness of breath, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and immobilization.  It strikes me at any time. I can’t look at photos of my now deceased sheep. I break down crying while sorting old pedigrees. I end up in tears when I see something that should be joyful, like the first robins of the year, or the sound of the first spring peepers. I end up sobbing when I realize I can’t feel the beauty around me or on the farm anymore. The world has been muddied.

I’m told my symptoms are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I still seem too paralyzed watching the downward spiral to alter its course. I must change it now before it’s too late.

On the saddest grey days a sprinkle of light rain seems enough to dissolve my frail being into the thawing ground, along with vague images of a former life. But even then, surely I’m stronger than an unthinking, faceless, draconian government body.

Last week an unkempt strange man trespassed on my property, filmed me through my windows, and left a notice declaring the locks would be changed. The bank is moving in, demanding their overdue mortgage payments.

People ask me how I can stand all the stress and pressure. I’m not always sure I can.  But I hold the thought that what the CFIA has done is so very wrong, and what they continue to do is so very wrong.

More people need to know what our government is doing with the power we have vested in them, on the pretence of protecting us. I refuse to believe that the gross misuse of power wielded by this government body might go unnoticed. They shouldn’t wield enough power to destroy me, my farm, and other small farms.

First, I need to ensure the farm will not be lost.  Then, to raise funds for legal defense against the CFIA’s charges, and to raise awareness about how their policies are affecting all of us, and work to get them changed. Most of all, the farm needs to breathe once more so more people can enjoy it again.

The encouragement of all those who have been following this story has been a huge support to me. It constantly reminds me that we are all in this together…no matter how different our personal suffering or challenges. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, but it IS happening, and it needs to stop.

You can find the whole story here on this  ShropshireSheep.org  site,  just click on the red tab along the top of the page for info and updates on the BLOG,  and visit the Save Our Shrops Facebook Page . The farm Facebook page is Wholearth Farmstudio. With your help, we’ll breathe life back into it, and make it whole once again.

Thank-you so much…

please help spread word of this situation and share.

If you’d like to offer support you can do so here:

GoFundMe.com/FarmedAndDangerous

 

Please help me keep my home – help me keep the farm going.

Any help you can offer WILL make a difference!

 

 

 

 

Join Us for LifeStock: A Call to Farms Sept 30, 2012‚ Gates Open 10:30am

Montana Jones/Michael-Schmidt biodiversity wake-up call

Join us Sunday September 30th

for a day of foodmusicwords

Raw milk is illegal and government policy threatens the genetic biodiversity of our produce and livestock.

Small farms are targets…but we are ALL losing the right to choose

what we eat and how we live.

It’s your Life.

It’s your LifeStock.

This is A Call to Farms…and a call to every one of us.

Come look, listen, talk, sing, dance, eat, share…

the first LifeStock at Wholearth Farmstudio in Hastings, Ontario

Gates open 10:30 a.m.

Support LifeStock and get your invitation now!

Karen Selick’s unpublished letter to the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times

 

You can read Karen Selicks unpublished letter to the Owen Sun Times here on the Bovine  or below…

Media Fogwash Part Two

From Karen Selick:

This is the letter that I prepared for the Owen Sound Sun Times on July 4, 2012 after discussing with the editor Doug Edgar my concerns about inaccuracies in their reporting on the Montana Jones story.  Mr. Edgar led me to believe in our telephone conversation that he would publish my letter if I took the time to write it; otherwise, I would not have spent the time.  However, 7 weeks have now gone by, and despite several back-and-forth e-mails with Mr. Edgar, he still has not published my letter, nor has he given any commitment that he will do so.  In order to prevent my effort from being a total waste, I am offering this to The Bovine for publication.

Dear Editor of the Sun Times,

I am the lawyer for Montana Jones, owner of the rare Shropshire sheep that were stolen from her farm near Peterborough after being ordered destroyed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).  Some of the sheep were found on a farm near Chesley in mid-June.  The Sun Times has covered the news in three articles:  “Farmers shocked by news of scrapie” (June 15, 2012http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2012/06/14/farmers-shocked-by-news-of-scrapie), “CFIA expects test results this week in scrapie probe” (June 19, 2012 http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2012/06/18/cfia-expects-test-results-this-week-in-scrapie-probe) and “Seized sheep did not have scrapie” (June 26, 2012 http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2012/06/26/seized-sheep-did-not-have-scrapie).  All three articles contained errors or omissions which my client and I wish to address.

The first article quoted a Grey County farmer Vince Stutzki saying, “I think CFIA provided enough opportunity to Montana to be as flexible as possible…”  This must be pure speculation on the part of Mr. Stutzki, since Ms. Jones has never spoken to Mr. Stutzki and we presume that the CFIA has not breached Ms. Jones’ right to privacy by talking to Mr. Stutzki about her case.

“The CFIA has no-one to blame for this debacle but itself.”

The fact is that Ms. Jones presented the CFIA with several well-documented proposals as to how her rare breeding stock could be preserved without endangering anyone else’s animals.  For instance, she was willing to have her farm remain in quarantine for another five years (on top of the two years she had already endured) and to allow each animal to be tested for scrapie at the end of its natural lifespan.  That proposal was flatly rejected by the CFIA.

Another option she proposed to the CFIA was that she surrender for slaughter all but her 11 most prized sheep, those whose genetics she particularly wished to preserve. That proposal was likewise rejected by the CFIA.  Ironically, those 11 sheep were among the 26 found in Grey County that have now been slaughtered and found negative for scrapie.  Thus Ms. Jones was vindicated in her belief that those sheep were healthy—unfortunately, they’re now all dead.

Ms. Jones has been proposing alternatives to save her sheep since she met with four CFIA veterinarians last November in an audio-recorded meeting.  Every proposal was met with complete intransigence on the part of the CFIA.  Everything had to be done their way—like it or lump it.  The sole departure they would consider from their normal kill-‘em-all protocol would have entailed a great deal of expense for Ms. Jones and still would have resulted in all the targeted sheep being slaughtered within two years.

It was this rigid inflexibility on the part of the CFIA that caused Ms. Jones to make her concerns public on her Save Our Shropshires (SOS) website (http://shropshiresheep.org/).  Her objection was that rare sheep were being sacrificed with no proof of illness, reducing the biodiversity of Canada’s sheep population.  (Canada has signed an international treaty pledging to preserve biodiversity, incidentally.)  The condemned sheep were all apparently healthy and productive.  There was no discernible need to kill them—there was nothing but slavish conformity to some rule made by nameless bureaucrats somewhere.

It now appears that a person or persons whom Ms. Jones had never met read her SOS website and decided, without informing her, to take matters into his (or their) own hands by removing the sheep and taking them to Grey County.  Had the CFIA accepted one of Ms. Jones’ reasonable proposals to preserve her rare sheep, she would never have started the SOS website and none of the subsequent events would have happened.  In short, the CFIA has no-one to blame for this debacle but itself.

Meanwhile, while I’m on the subject of slavish conformity, I note that the last two articles published by the Sun Times on this subject repeated, word-for-word, the CFIA’s press release assertion that scrapie “has serious impacts on sheep and goat production and trade.”  I would have expected that a news reporter might want to do a little digging into what that nebulous phrase might mean before incorporating it into his stories.

I telephoned the CFIA’s media relations department myself and asked them what they meant by “serious impacts”.  I asked them to quantify the impacts in numeric terms.  In their e-mailed response, the only concrete fact or figure they provided was this:  “According to Statistics Canada data in 2011-2012, the sale of sheep and lamb products totalled approximately $160 million.”  Since this figures was a total for all sheep and lamb products, having nothing whatsoever to do with scrapie, I e-mailed back asking if this was the best they could do.  I reiterated my request that they quantify their term “serious impacts”. Their second response was equally devoid of factual information pertaining to scrapie.  In fact, they merely reiterated their sentence quoted above.

It appears that the CFIA may not actually have any data to support its claim that scrapie has “serious impacts” on sheep and goat production and trade.  They may just be speculating (and unnecessarily alarming farmers in the process) while making their own jobs more secure. After all, scrapie has been known to exist since 1832, but the current Scrapie Eradication Program wasn’t initiated until 2005.

On June 27, I sent an Access to Information request to the CFIA seeking (among other things) a copy of any cost-benefit analysis relied upon by the CFIA to justify the current Scrapie Eradication Program.  I’d be happy to share the response with the Sun Times when it arrives.

Yours truly,

Karen Selick

Karen Selick is Litigation Director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Farms Raided with Search Warrants, Charges Pending

Raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and I and a few other farms were raided August 2nd, 2012. Electronic devices and personal items were seized and charges of Obstruction and Conspiracy are pending. Government and O.P.P. invaded my home  at 7:04 a.m and continued their intimidation for 13 hours.

Not  sure how seizing a decades old Macintosh SE or a kids X-Box might reveal whatever they are looking for, but they took those too.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) seized many items far outside what the scope of their Warrant to Search permitted.  It specified records, documents and data in my control between March 23rd to July 30th, 2012 ONLY. The old doorstop Mac SE and my personal drawings and doodles and notes made over the last many years were also taken illegally. The warrant  specified items relating to CFIA, Farmers Peace Corp and specific individuals ONLY.  However, they left with my personal things.  Even tape recordings of my father and I, made in the intimate moments at his hospice just before he died last year.

Not acceptable.

The pending Obstruction charge is particularly ironic, as I have felt that it’s the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Ministry of Agriculture that have been in conspiracy—halting my income and farm livelihood for 2.5 years in their efforts to kill my rare, heritage Shropshire sheep. They killed them in the end and they were indeed healthy. Now heritage Shropshires are even closer to being wiped out.

We need to stop our government from killing other heritage flocks of sheep…other heritage breeds of cattle…pigs…poultry, and preserve our heirloom vegetables.

InfoWars:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PsYGE9kYzk

http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/raid-today-on-michael-schmidts-farm-linked-to-sheep-suspected-of-scrapie/ 

http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2012/08/03/schmidt-part-of-sheep-warrant

To add insult to injury the compensation that CFIA has publicly promised for killing my healthy heritage sheep won’t be forthcoming after all.

So I’m about to lose my farm.

…and for what?

 

Wake Up Call

 

Please Join our Wake Up call! Canada is closer and closer to losing it’s Agricultural BiodiversitySIGN THE PETITION to insist Canadian Food Inspection Agency stops killing rare heritage livestock breeds and implements a new exemption for all of Canada’s heritage horses, pigs, cattle, goats, poultry and waterfowl to prevent CFIA from destroying any more healthy rare breeds.

CFIA finds and kills rare heritage flock—ALL NEGATIVE for scrapie


CFIA test results are back…

ALL NEGATIVE for scrapie, as I knew they would be.

Killed for nothing, all those genetics gone.

I do not believe for a moment that the CFIA alleged 15S ewe was a true positive. She died here of toxemia, zero symptoms, in excellent body condition, assessed by CFIA vet Douglas MacLeod the day prior who concurred on her pregnancy related ailments.

CFIA desperately needed to claim a positive was in the flock to fight the judicial review about their actions against me and my flock. I and 5,000 other petitioners don’t buy it.

CFIA got their scapesheep in me, and in this beautiful flock.

CFIA thinks they’ve won because those sheep and their babies are dead.

But all of Canada has lost.

We’ve lost a huge part of our heritage livestock genetics, and we’ve lost even more faith in a government that is there to…to what?

This video was the last time I saw my flock alive {a few are still missing or dead} at Mirko Malish’s farm..I drove the 5 hours from Wholearth Farmstudio to see them.

At first the sheep did not see me there…I took this brief video by the fence, but was not allowed to go in or touch my own animals. Then a few turned when they heard my voice…I teared up when they recognized me, and my call, and came running to me out of the barn.

The sheep in the beginning on the right, and at the end of video her face is close-up on right..is Avril 8N. She was very special and was in particularly rough shape…thin, and limped due to a tender, swollen inflamed udder and mastitis that I pointed out to CFIA vet who refused to look at it. She had no lambs with her and I suspect nobody treated her or milked her out, which caused the condition.

The flock was still unsheared despite the summer heat, so it’s hard from this footage to see that most were underweight as the wool hides it somewhat. Several had not yet lambed…three were in pretty good shape. I was not happy that all the mature rams were in with the newborns and getting stepped on and pushed around.

I got to Chesley at 6 AM, and waited the entire day to meet with CFIA, who sent word throughout the day via the OPP there, that CFIA were enroute to meet with me.

I kept asking were they really coming to meet with me? When CFIA finally arrived at 8:00PM that night it was to say they wouldn’t speak with me.

I told CFIA vet Dr. Nancy Brown a long list of my concerns and asked her to please try understand my position. How hard it was to be there, after everything, and see my beloved sheep in poor condition and pawing the ground looking for food, eating their bedding, knowing that no matter what, they were all about to be destroyed and I KNEW they did not have scrapie. She walked away and continued to ignore me. It was hard to be there knowing I was not permitted to care for my own animals and nobody “in charge” knew what was going on.

Then she dragged a few bales of hay out into the barnyard and said “Well he isn’t doing a very good job of looking after them. I told him to give them hay free choice,” to which I replied “Who, Mirko? From what he told me he’s not even here full time, and it was never his responsibility. It is CFIA responsibility…they’ve been under CFIA care all week. They are picking at their bedding because there is no hay and you’ve stopped them from going out on pasture.”

Then she just hissed at me…”You shouldn’t have posted that on Facebook.”

How could a passion for saving rare heritage breeds turn so sad and ugly? This could have happened to anybody. Everybody who wants to live a peaceful rural life working and and raising their own food.

How can we keep a tunnel-visioned government out of our lives, off our farms, off our property, off of our dinner plates, out of our lives and away from our food choices?

Michael Schmidt speaks out on CFIA’s slaughter of the Shropshire sheep

From Michael Schmidt: 

Michael Schmidt Statement regarding the senseless slaughter of 31 Sheep by the CFIA

Part One

Today is June the 13th 2012

I was born 58 years ago today, 9 years after the war ended in Europe.

I have been witness to the emotional and physical aftermath of the horror, which the world experienced and as a result of the millions of innocent people killed.

My relentless questioning about the circumstances which led to the horrific moral and spiritual disaster in Germany, made me aware about our every day responsibility to be awake and always alert.

Alert about Government’s growing disregard for our freedom and our fundamental right, which has led many times in history to unforeseen consequences and brutal regimes.

This is the reason, why I decided to make the following statement.

I have been asked by the Farmers Peace Corp to speak on their behalf on the sad occasion of today’s  unnecessary killing of 31 rare sheep.

I have no knowledge about the different people involved.

I do however have repeatedly publicly encouraged the need to act because of the gross misconduct and history of corruption by CFIA officials and their disrespect and ignorance towards a common sense solution as an alternative to killing.

Obsessed with the “final solution” of killing,  the CFIA seemed to have decided that elimination without any accountability is the best way to battle a decease, which has no negative impact to human health and has been around for hundreds of years and in fact might not even be eradicated with killing.

To establish genetic profiling and use draconian measures of elimination is scary to say the least.

This itself is a painful reminder of the approach the HITLER regime applied to genetic cleansing.

I have been asked by the Farmers Peace Corp to help to provide some clarity and transparency for the reasons and circumstances, why the sheep have not been stolen but put in protective custody.

The Farmers Peace Corp used the moral responsibility of civil disobedience in order to try to protect rare sheep with valuable genetics and at the same time  requested due process and evidence before the” final solution” would have been applied.

 

Part Two

Those involved in the Farmers Peace Corp have acted without knowledge and involvement of Montana Jones.

Those involved in the Farmers Peace Corp do support evidence based scrapie eradication programs.

Those involved in the Farmers Peace Corp do respect the law but oppose the irreversible actions and the non-accountability by  CFIA officials.

Those involved in the Farmers Peace Corp diligently made sure to prevent cross contamination with any other sheep to uphold and respect the quarantine imposed.

Those involved in the Farmers Peace Corp have the necessary records for identification and will provide them at a later date if necessary.

Those involved in the Farmers Peace Corp have intentionally no common knowledge, who in fact took the sheep, transported them, and placed them at the farm, where they have been found.

I can personally assure that the owner of the farm where the sheep were found indeed had  no knowledge about the history of the sheep.

In my role as liaison I can assure that I never visited Montana Jones Farm, transported or handled any of her sheep at the center of this investigation.

I am aware that I as a consequence to my public statement might be subject to an investigation and possible charges related to the sad sheep saga.

I am determined to support the brave work of those who have risked their personal safety and security to try to protect those sheep with the hope that “conclusive evidence” would have been provided by the CFIA in order to return the sheep for orderly slaughter if found infected or for further testing.

In closing I also like to point out that Montana Jone’s Lawyer Karen Selick had no knowledge about the people involved and the action itself.

Whatever will evolve I am honored to be a part of this brave action, as I have taken on the role as liaison for the Farmers Peace Corp.  I have very limited knowledge about the many people involved, but continue to support  and encourage their goal to demand accountability from Government as it relates to the almost vanished Agri-culture in Canada, already burdened by over-regulation and less and less compassion for it’s cultural importance as it relates to genetic diversity and overall sustainability.

 

From Michael Schmidt’s facebook page 

 

Sheep found in Chesley, Ontario farm

from the Adrian Humphreys National Post story:

Missing sheep saga draws to a close as inspectors find, begin to destroy quarantined flock

The strange yarn of the fugitive flock – heritage sheep said to be related to the first sheep that came from England to Canada – is coming to a messy end after food inspection officials finally found at least some of the quarantined sheep stolen in a high-profile bid to save them from the slaughterhouse.

Canada Food Inspection Agency officials found 28 sheep and has started to kill them, said their owner, Montana Jones.

The sheep were apparently found on a farm near Chesley, Ont., not far from the Lake Huron shore but a five hour drive from her farm in eastern Ontario where they went missing.

Ontario Provincial Police and CFIA both independently confirmed that some of the missing sheep, which were subject to a government quarantine order in a scrapie scare, were found but refused to provide any details or confirm a cull has begun.

‘I can’t get rid of the image in my head of being a good shepherd — and failing’

On April 2, the morning the flock was scheduled to be killed by CFIA after a ewe sold from Ms. Montana’s farm tested positive for scrapie, she found the sheep missing and a hand-written note saying the flock had been taken into “protective custody” by activists calling themselves the “Farmers Peace Corp.”

Ms. Jones said she had no idea where they were or who took them but felt they were better off missing than dead while she continued to fight the government’s kill order in court.

But when she learned of the recovery late Thursday her distress returned.

“I’m devastated,” Ms. Jones said as she tried to get to the farm on Friday with a “compassion posse” to help her in her plight.

“I didn’t imagine in all of this that I might never see them again. Been crying more than I thought possible. I feel quite powerless and now just want to be able to sit with them awhile, apologize for failing to look after them and protect them from harm, and say good bye to them.

Above: Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials corral sheep marked for slaughter at Jones’ farm.

 

“I can’t get rid of the image in my head of being a good shepherd — and failing.”

‘The breach of quarantine has the potential of infecting a large number of sheep and costing other sheep producers a lot’ Not everyone, however, thinks she was a good shepherd in her pursuits.

Jennifer MacTavish, executive director of the Canadian Sheep Federation, previously told National Post that other producers sympathize with the emotion of a scrapie investigation but disapproved of Ms. Jones’ tactics.

“Scrapie eradication efforts are essential to the continued growth and vibrancy of the small ruminant industry in Canada. Positive cases of scrapie continue to pose a considerable threat to the health of the national sheep flock,” she said.

CFIA would release little information on the development.

“We have quarantined the farm where they were found and the animal health investigation continues,” said Lisa Gauthier, a CFIA spokeswoman.

 

Related

Media fogwash

Who’s On First?

It is interesting to note that recent media coverage on the Shropshire scrapie issue has just grazed the surface, and not even attempted to find out up-to-date facts on this topic by interviewing relevant individuals. The flock owner for instance…moi.

The alleged positive test result is highlighted out of context, without reporting other hugely pertinent facts. Seems the media is only reiterating the same  Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) statements from their own press releases.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA)  Brian Evans has admitted the prevalence of scrapie in Canada is “fairly low.” Evans just issued a press release saying “Scrapie can only be confirmed through tests conducted on brain tissue.”

Penny Greenwell is quoted as saying “Scrapie has a long incubation period and there is no known 100-per-cent-effective live test. Infected animals can spread the disease in flocks and herds without showing signs of illness.”

However, what is not said is that most sheep scrapie cases present between 2 and 4 years…and the alleged positive was over 6 years old. Just one in a series of relevant facts surrounding this case.

Both Evans and Greenwell neglect to mention that if ONLY brain tissue is used and various other sites in the entire lymphatic system are not tested, THEY COULD MISS between 5% and 30% of infected animals, thereby rendering their kill-and-test program most unreliable.

Yet CFIA claims the 88% accuracy of the LIVE test is not enough? So they killed 9 of my pregnant sheep to verify they were healthy, found out they were indeed all negative for scrapie, and are out to kill 31 more if they find them.

Some media report that “The 31 animals that disappeared just before they were to be destroyed April 2 were a group sorted from Jones’ flock as having a genetic susceptibility to the disease, said Penny Greenwood, national manager for disease control and animal welfare with the CFIA in Ottawa.”  But in fact, the 9 that were seized and killed, AND the alleged positive, were of a genetic cohort that CFIA deemed NOT as susceptible as the ARQ/ARQ’s.

While it is commonly accepted that  “horizontal” transmission of scrapie to another sheep is possible, especially for producers who allow their sheep to birth in groups as many do, the media release does NOT mention the actual facts in this particular case.

Wholearth ewes are penned in individual lambing pens before and after birthing for up to two weeks, and the area cleaned before another ewe is introduced. Therefore, the likelihood of another coming  into contact with infected material in the birthing environment is extremely unlikely. CFIA has admitted the same to in information about potential contamination, management and clean up in flocks in general.

Greenwood goes on to say CFIA is unable to offer the DNA and tissues “with no chain of custody to certify the samples”, but in FACT they have been unwilling to even discuss the issue, and it is pure assumption there would be no “chain of custody.”  OF COURSE there would be complete care and control to satisfy both parties…that statement is merely conjecture by Greenwood, not truth.

Inadvertently breeding for atypical disease?

What exactly are we letting happen here, at the hands of a tunnel visioned government?

There is a move to wipe out ARQ/ARQ sheep as they have been considered to be a “susceptible” genotype for scrapie. This does not mean necessarily that an ARQ/ARQ sheep WILL get scrapie, but some research suggests it is at higher risk of contracting the disease if scrapie already exists in a sheep’s environment.

While classical scrapie is not considered a human health risk, it is a threat to the lamb industry because commercial lamb producers see less revenue due to affected sheep creating reduced production.

The latest scientific findings have confirmed that genotype genocide and the elimination of our biological diversity is a very dangerous thing, in nature and agriculture.

In fact, flocks such those that have been influenced by Agriculture Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to alter their genetic pool by using ARR rams for a “scrapie-resistant flock” is misguided.

The science now indicates producers doing so are in fact, possibly breeding FOR scrapie.From the experts in prion research: “Sheep believed to be resistant to scrapie are succumbing to atypical infections and a newly identified strain of the disease. Eradication programmes based on selective breeding should be reappraised.”

and

“the ARR allele was until recently thought to confer full resistance to BSE and scrapie. However, the successful transmission of BSE prions to ARR/ARR sheep and the detection of natural cases of classical scrapie in sheep with the ARR/ARR genotype have shown that this resistance is penetrable. Moreover, the identification of previously unrecognized atypical scrapie strains in sheep with various genotypes, including ARR/ARR, further supports this statement.” 

The WORST of it is that while classical scrapie is not presently considered an issue for human health risk…atypical scrapie may well be.

Research has found that primates are susceptible to a new variant popping up increasingly in the ARR genotyped sheep that our government and most national sheep organizations have been grooming to be our national flock.

When might the CFIA realize that safeguarding our ARQ/ARQ sheep may well be the answer to ensure that our nations future health is protected from scrapie related human illness?

We need diversity for our health now and in the future—we need heritage breeds of sheep and all livestock.

What to believe?

My main goal in this ongoing Shropshire saga has been for Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz to implement a Heritage Breed Exemption to the current Scrapie Protocol, which would protect and conserve the genetic diversity of all rare heritage breeds in Canada, not just the Shropshires.

Still no evidence that the original positive found on an Alberta farm was a sheep that originated on my farm. CFIA’s DNA lab report (which I have not seen despite requests) has only proven that two offspring born on the Alberta farm were out of a sheep there. But for the sake of (no) argument, let’s say it was indeed the same sheep that originated on my farm. Experts agree that that sheep 24S could have contracted the disease after it left my farm, which has a history of no scrapie nor symptoms for the entire 12 years since my flocks existence.

I believe in controlling scrapie, however I also believe in preserving rare heritage genetics. I’ve been open to co-operating with Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to discover if scrapie does indeed lie somewhere within my flock, but with a considered approach in view of it’s rare breed status. I even proposed sacrificing more than half my beloved flock towards finding out  http://shropshiresheep.org/2012/04/03/lost-sheep/ . They refused. Perhaps had CFIA and I worked together, the sheep might not have been taken by Farmers’ Peace Corps {http://shropshiresheep.org/2012/04/04/on-the-lam-cbcs-as-it-happens/} .

 

CFIA now claims that a different sheep just tested positive on my farm.  Numerous facts suggest that test result could be a ‘mistake’, for the following reasons:

1) There were no scrapie symptoms in the alleged positive the day before it died, when the CFIA veterinarian heading the case confirmed it was likely ill due to pregnancy toxemia.

2)  The alleged positive was over 6 years old. Scrapie commonly affects sheep between 2 and 3 years old, rarely after 5 years old. {http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3864753?uid=3739448&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3737720&uid=4&sid=47698971872807}

3) Scrapie is generally transmitted from an infected scrapie positive mother to it’s offspring via birthing fluids.  Yet the 13-year old pregnant mother of the alleged positive was healthy (until CFIA killed her). She tested negative for scrapie. {http://shropshiresheep.org/2012/04/28/cfia-raids-farm-to-seize-and-kill-9-shropshire-sheep/ }

4) The alleged positive was not one of CFIA’s specified high risk genetic cohorts, it was a VRQ/ARQ.

5) CFIA and Jones are engaged in judicial review currently before the courts. CFIA needed a positive to counter that review, and did not have one prior to their alleged positive.

6) A false government document certified that some of Jones’ sheep were “contaminated by scrapie”, 20 days BEFORE the samples were even shipped to the testing lab.{http://shropshiresheep.org/2012/05/01/shepherd-obtains-false-government-document/}

7) CFIA refuses blind third-party testing. Why not have the DNA and obex brain tissue speak for themselves?

Greenwood is quoted stating “CFIA has “no doubt” that the animal in question was scrapie-positive.” Montana Jones is not convinced. She has “no doubt” that this case necessitates third party investigation, after experiencing a history of numerous CFIA errors.”

This issue is about shining a bright light on all questionable, intransigent government tactics and draconian protocol, especially those that are devastating Canada’s dwindling heritage breeds.

Will the real human nature please stand up

It’s an odd twist that certain people seem to have launched an all out attack in various public online forums, with some others commenting that their interest in the case might be viewed a personal vendetta, rather than focussing on the facts of the issue. It’s still not clear to me why those individuals have changed sides, going from being so much against CFIA’s tactics to clearly raging and ranting on with misinformed false accusations. It is most unusual. So far I have chosen not to share taped conversations that are contrary to what is purported online.

Their targeted, out-of-context vehement hair-splitting digressions to every nuanced detail has some pondering the phrase, “Methinks ye doth protest too much.”

But that’s a red herring rabbit hole for another day…well, actually..there aren’t enough days left in this lifetime to go there.  There is neither the time nor interest to address their speculative deviations to fiction, and I will instead focus on sharing all the relevant facts of the Shropshire/CFIA issue publicly and in the courts.

I didn’t bring this issue to light with an aim to hide pertinent facts, but to reveal them. I am not the first farmer this has happened to…MOST never say a word….it’s too much of a stigma to even utter the word scrapie, even for those producers whose large flocks have been destroyed and all tested negative.

I’m still holding fast to believing, perhaps naively, that the truth will out, that by staying the course, all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

And if it does not?

…well, I will have learned some pivotal lessons about human nature…some sad,  some disheartening, but most are incredibly inspiring.

The one powerful lesson realized throughout is that so many of us want the same thing, whether it’s about sheep, lies, government…no matter. Those are details.

Friends and supporters refresh and encourage me every day with a reminder for all like-minded souls. Here’s to living freely and simply and honestly, doing no harm and to helping where we can.

Will CFIA endanger our future health by destroying a whole genotype?

CFIA’s Brian Evans has admitted the prevalence of scrapie in Canada is “fairly low.” He just issued a press release saying “Scrapie can only be confirmed through tests conducted on brain tissue.”

He neglects to mention that if they use ONLY brain tissue and don’t test a whole slew of places in the lymphatic system, THEY WILL MISS between 5% and 30% of infected animals, thereby rendering their kill-and-test program most unreliable!

Yet CFIA claims the 88% accuracy of the LIVE test is not enough? So they killed my beloved 9 pregnant sheep to verify they were healthy, found out they were indeed all negative for scrapie, and are out to kill 31 more if they find them.

Those 9 were of a genetic cohort that CFIA deemed NOT as susceptible as the ARQ/ARQ’s.

What exactly are we letting happen?

There is a move to wipe out ARQ/ARQ sheep as they have been considered to be a “susceptible” genotype for possible scrapie. This does not mean necessarily that an ARQ/ARQ sheep WILL get scrapie, but some research suggested it is at higher risk of contracting the disease if it already exists in a sheep’s environment.

While classical scrapie is not considered a human health risk, it is a threat to the lamb industry because commercial lamb producers see less revenue due to affected sheep creating reduced production.

The latest scientific findings have confirmed that genotype genocide and the elimination of our biological diversity is a very dangerous thing, in nature and agriculture.

In fact, flocks such those that have been influenced by Agriculture Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to alter their genetic pool by using ARR rams for a “scrapie-resistant flock” is misguided. The science now indicates producers doing so are in fact, possibly breeding FOR scrapie.

From the experts in prion research: “Sheep believed to be resistant to scrapie are succumbing to atypical infections and a newly identified strain of the disease. Eradication programmes based on selective breeding should be reappraised.” 

and

“the ARR allele was until recently thought to confer full resistance to BSE and scrapie. However, the successful transmission of BSE prions to ARR/ARR sheep and the detection of natural cases of classical scrapie in sheep with the ARR/ARR genotype have shown that this resistance is penetrable. Moreover, the identification of previously unrecognized atypical scrapie strains in sheep with various genotypes, including ARR/ARR, further supports this statement.”

 

The WORST of it is that while classical scrapie is not presently considered an issue for human health risk…atypical scrapie may well be.

Research has found that primates are susceptible to a new variant popping up increasingly in the ARR genotyped sheep that our government and most national sheep organizations have been grooming to be our national flock.

When might the CFIA realize that safeguarding our ARQ/ARQ sheep may well be the answer to ensure that our nations future health is protected from scrapie related human illness?

We need diversity for health—we need heritage breeds of sheep and all livestock.

Save Our Shropshires by signing this petition..we’re 5,000 and growing!