from Joel Salatin:

Dec 8, 2011—To the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA): I have been apprised of your intent to annihilate the Wholearth flock of Shropshire sheep owned by Montana Jones and it is deeply troubling. Without credible tests that empirically prove the existence of scrapie, to proceed with the planned extermination is both unscientific and tyrannical. Agenda-driven extermination tactics have been used throughout history to purge alternative genes, both human and animal.  This deprives future generations of traits that may provide salvation from yet-to-be-revealed diseases.  Please follow reason and real science as you approach this rare flock of sheep. Thank you for your attention, Joel Salatin Polyface Farm Virginia, USA (Joel Salatin in Time Magazine)

from Rare Breeds International:

from James D. McIntosh:

I am in favour of saving Canada’s heritage Shropshire sheep from extinction and am against the CFIA decision to destroy the Wholearth flock which have tested negative for scrapie. Instead of killing healthy endangered breeding animals, I would urge you to implement an alternative course to preserve these rare heritage genetics and any other heritage livestock breeds in Canada. A heritage breed exemption to CFIA’s current scrapie protocol could include on-farm monitoring, surveillance and continued selective breeding to increase the sheep population so they are no longer endangered.

We must remember that at the height of the BSE crisis in the UK endangered and highly prized livestock were quarantined for further monitoring and testing, including His Royal Highness Duke of Edinburgh cattle’s, rather than slaughtered outright.

As you are well aware scrapie does not pose as a health threat to humans like BSE but rather only to other livestock.  As such the risk to humans is extremely low if non-existent.  There is also a history of instances of scrapie appearing in flocks with no history or past exposure to the disease, making scrapie one of the less understood of the TSE family of diseases.  Simply having a ewe appear in Alberta born from a flock elsewhere 5 years ago does not constitute conclusive evidence of a scrapie outbreak especially since the animals in question have supposedly tested negative for the disease.

This is one of those cases where prudence is required in order to protect an endangered breed and highly valued part of Canadian livestock. Please consider further testing and monitoring.


from Sarah Elton:

I was alarmed when I heard about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s plan to slaughter the Wholearth flock of the rare Shropshire sheep breed that, I understand, has tested negative for scrapie. This action risks putting our future food security in danger.

We are living during a time when many domestic livestock breeds in this country, and around the world, are facing genetic erosion. Due to the selective breeding practices of the past fifty years, we have winnowed down the livestock gene pool so that we lack the genetic diversity these animals require to be healthy. Killing this herd of sheep will further limit the sheep gene pool in Canada thus putting the health and integrity of our livestock industries in Canada in jeopardy.

It is imprudent to continue along this path. I urge you to implement an alternative course to preserve these rare heritage genetics. A heritage breed exemption to CFIA’s current scrapie protocol could include on-farm monitoring, surveillance and continued selective breeding to increase the sheep population so they are no longer endangered.

This is, in fact, a matter that effects us all. I look forward to your reply.

Sarah Elton

from Private Name:

I am deeply distressed and saddened by the intended action on the part of the CFIA to destroy the Wholearth flock of Shropshire sheep. First, I find it inconceivable that the there is no strategy by which to protect heritage breeds in a situation like this. In England, it was concluded during the last foot and mouth out break in 2001, that there needed to be alternate means of protecting important gene pools such as this one. Measures were put in place to ‘preserve rare breeds of sheep and goats, and small breeding nuclei of sheep and goats of other breeds, of high genetic value’.  It is time Canada caught up to jurisdictions that are more aware, and recognize that heritage breeds are an important asset to be promoted; not eliminated on the basis of flawed process and questionable science. It behooves the CFIA to think differently and creatively; to consider ‘on-farm monitoring, surveillance and continued selective breeding’ as an alternate approach, that has already been proposed by owner Montana Jones.

This action can only be perceived as an attack on small farmers, and in this instance it is targeting an outstanding and innovative farmer – someone who understands bloodlines, genetics and sheep husbandry; who has developed a considerable reputation for her breeding stock. This is a shepherd who cares deeply for her sheep, such that monetary compensation is of little or no value. What you will destroy is not just the sheep; it’s  the flock – bloodlines that are irreplaceable; that have taken years to build, a lifetime’s work and investment. This is not an ordinary ‘cull’.

In sharing this story with other, non-farming colleagues and friends; people who care about their food, the food source and food systems, it occurs to me that the CFIA has majorly misjudged this situation. These laypeople, who may know little about sheep and sheep husbandry, are none the less appalled at the heavy handed way the CFIA has managed this case. People see this as bureaucratic bullying of the worst kind. I ask that this case be reconsidered  before more harm is done. It could be used as an important pilot project to develop approaches to protecting other heritage  breeds should similar circumstances arise. A government with foresight and vision would do this, and work with organizations such as Rare Breeds Canada and other breed associations in this process.

from Private Name BSc,PhD:

The Honourable Gerry Ritz,

I lived on a farm for many years where we raised rare heritage breeds, including sheep, and know how important each and every animal is.  At the same time, I recognize the importance of protecting other sheep and humans from animals infected with scrapie.  We now have methods to test for scrapie and had Ms. Montana Jones’ sheep tested positive then the actions the CFIA intends to take would make sense.  But they tested negative. Her sheep do NOT have scrapie.

The CFIA states that decisions are based on science, but there is no evidence supporting that.   The actions taken by CFIA officials are reprehensible and give the appearance that they consists of a group of thugs who have the authority to destroy livestock without the brains to know when and if that should be done.

The flock of Shropshire sheep that are on this farm come from a very important stock, the farm of Ed Jackson, who showed for decades at the Canadian Royal Winter Fair and won numerous awards.  Slaughtering helpless sheep that are not infected with scrapie is bad enough but destroying this particular flock is an act that is so reprehensible that I am shocked that you, the Honourable Gerry Ritz, would condone it.  The word “Honourable” comes before your name as a reminder that you should act with honour.

Obviously a mistake has been made by civil servants who are too enthusiastic to carry out orders that they are willing to destroy genetically rare breeds irrespective of what the tests show. This flock is not infected and it is time to do the right thing.  Call off your CFIA inspectors, do on-farm monitoring until you are convinced there is no danger, but do not destroy this very important flock unless you have irrefutable evidence that it is infected with scrapies.

You have the authority, please demonstrate that you also have the intelligence and wisdom in your position as the Minister of Agriculture.

With Your Help, Your Voice—We Can Stop The CFIA from Destroying Canada’s Heritage Sheep and Save Them From Extinction

Contact CFIA & Minister of Agriculture

The Honourable Gerry Ritz   Telephone :  613-773-1059 and 613-773-1000   EMAIL YOUR OWN LETTER OF SUPPORT and we will include it in our pleas. We’ll reprint a selection of your letters here, please indicate if you’d rather your real name withheld.  OR

[button link=”mailto:correspondancem@agr.gc.ca,noel.harrington@inspection.gc.ca,douglas.macleod@inspection.gc.ca,norlock.R@parl.gc.ca,gerry.ritz@parl.gc.ca,ritz.g@parl.gc.ca?subject=Stop%20CFIA%20slaughter%20of%20rare%20heritage%20Shropshire%20sheep&cc=farm@shropshiresheep.org&body=RE%3A%20CFIA%20set%20to%20slaughter%20heritage%20Shropshire%20sheep%0A%0AI%20am%20in%20favour%20of%20saving%20Canada’s%20heritage%20Shropshire%20sheep%20from%20extinction%20and%20am%20against%20the%20CFIA%20decision%20to%20destroy%20the%20Wholearth%20flock%20which%20have%20tested%20negative%20for%20scrapie.%20Instead%20of%20killing%20healthy%20endangered%20breeding%20animals%2C%20I%20urge%20you%20to%20implement%20an%20alternative%20course%20to%20preserve%20these%20rare%20heritage%20genetics%20and%20any%20other%20heritage%20livestock%20breeds%20in%20Canada.%20%20A%20heritage%20breed%20exemption%20to%20CFIA’s%20current%20scrapie%20protocol%20could%20include%20on-farm%20monitoring%2C%20surveillance%20and%20continued%20selective%20breeding%20to%20increase%20the%20sheep%20population%20so%20they%20are%20no%20longer%20endangered.%0A%0Asigned%2C%0A%0AYour%20Name%2FTown%2FProvince%2FEmail%2F” size=”medium” bg_color=”#00ad51″ border=”#005700″ window=”yes”]Email this sample letter below now[/button]


To The Honourable Gerry Ritz Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

RE: CFIA  have KILLED over 100 of Canada’s healthy rare heritage Shropshire sheep
To Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, how could you let this happen? There were alternatives to killing healthy rare sheep. I support implementing a GENUINE heritage breed exemption, not the recently penned psudeo proposal which in fact supports killing healthy breeding stock.  Please ammend CFIA’s policy for all livestock at risk of being destroyed at the hands of the their draconian risk control measures.  Please meet with Montana Jones to discuss saving this important lineage of Canada’s sheep.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) already destroyed Montana Jones’s healthy flock of rare heritage breed Shropshire sheep at Wholearth Farmstudio, a Northumberland County farm that conserves heritage livestock genetics. Over 70 healthy are sheep were killed, and now there are less than 80 registered heritage females remaining in Canada. Another 9 were killed on another farm. There are less that 80 heritage breeding ewes left!

At one time the Shropshire was the preferred sheep breed in North America, with over a half a million registered animals. The Wholearth flock bloodlines traced back to their 1882 descendants by way of the first Shropshire sheep imported here from England at the turn of the century.

Heritage breed shepherd Montana Jones, who spent the last 12 years preserving their rare genetics, is alarmed that despite lab results proving her entire flock tested negative for scrapie, CFIA  killed them anyway.

Even America’s best known farmer and agricultural activist Joel Salatin tried to stop their destruction. “CFIA’s intent to annihilate the Wholearth flock of Shropshire sheep owned by Montana Jones is deeply troubling,” says Salatin, author of Folks This Ain’t Normal. “Without credible tests that empirically prove the existence of scrapie, to proceed with the planned extermination is both unscientific and tyrannical.”

Rare Breeds Canada Past President Dr. Tom Hutchinson of Trent University says “Montana Jones has assembled some of the best, most ancient heritage genetics, so these are not just average sheep we’re talking about. This is an absolute genuine heritage Shropshire flock, and Canada cannot afford to lose it. To kill them based on suspicion with no proof or reason, is absolutely ludicrous.” Yet you blindly ignored all the experts urging you to prevent the killing.

Honourable Minister Gerry Ritz—you need to replace Montana Jones’s U.K. heritage genetics, and prevent any more from being destroyed!

Instead of killing healthy endangered breeding animals as you did with Montana Jones’s Shropshires—I urge you to implement an alternative course of action to preserve rare genetics of ALL  heritage livestock in Canada.  A heritage breed exemption to CFIA’s current scrapie protocol should include keeping breeding animals alive and reproducing, with on-farm monitoring, surveillance and continued selective breeding to increase the livestock population so they are no longer at risk of extinction in our country.


Your Name/Town/Province/Email


Minister if Agriculture Gerry Ritz Mailing Address:

1341 Baseline Road Tower 7, Floor 9, Room 149 Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0C5

32 thoughts on “LETTERS OF SUPPORT

  1. I’ve sent my letter to the minister of agriculture!
    Could not get onine petition to work though.
    I am sharing this link on facebook, and hope their is a massive amount of support.
    In Hope,
    Anna Jean

  2. Please, reconsider your decision. We would be saddened if the breed became extinct. Please, resolve whateverthe problem isrwithout havig to cut the numbers of these sheep. Please, save the heatige breeds.
    As a recent new spinner, I would like to keep the breed alive and have as a yarn source.

    1. There are more and more spinners interested in heritage breed wool. Shropshires have the longest staple of all the down breeds. CFIA regulations say I can’t even sell a fleece!

      1. Please say more about this and where to get more info about the fleece in this regard. That is absolutely nuts!! Does the animal have scrapie or is it in a flock that has found it>? Or is it just a matter of the genetic potential.
        CFIA does strange things bu t please give more info about WHY the fleece can’t be sold? Dianne Gimli Mb. (Babydolls – also a down heritage breed). have

  3. i am almost speechless here. if all the above is true, this is a gross abuse of power and must be stopped. i will do the best i can to get as many folks involved as possible.

    1. Thank-you Mark! More people need to know how many sheep flocks CFIA has killed on ‘suspicion’ and then obex tissue test comes up negative as well! That’s an irreversible oops. Ill be putting up another page on the other cases in Canada…

      1. it is may 5 2013 today-so glad you made the amount you had needed and above. so glad so many are banning together in support as well. bless the small farmers of the world .and the animal protectors. i dont understand why do the sheep have to be killed to test for this . that is rediculous.why is it different to test live alive rather then dead. same as mad cow disease. they have got to test other ways this cant be the solution. look at all the hogs in china distroyed and chickens now. jezh.

  4. I just called the number. The lady kept telling me that I had already called because, and I kept telling her that it was my first time to call. I guess because I mentioned the farm’s name, she thought I was calling from the farm.

    I repeated several times that I was calling regarding that farm because I am very concerned about the situation. She then said she was going to transfer me and then my call was dropped.


  5. I am just about to defend (in two days!) my PhD thesis that involved a case study of how Finland is conserving its heritage breeds in its National Parks. I have sent in my letter of support to prevent the eradication of your flock. It is amazing that in Europe farmers get subsidies to raise rare breeds/ Whereas in Canada our government goes out of its way to cripple the efforts of farmers investing their own time, money, and energy to conserve the agricultural diversity that the nation should be going out of its way to support. I’ll do my best to spread the word in the NW of the province.

  6. I am absolutely shocked to hear these news!! Why kill these shropshires if they tested negative???? What kind of a world are we living in!! I am a small shropshire breeder and cannot understand what is happening! Montana’s sheep seemed to me to be bred in the most favourable situation – a beautiful place with a most caring breeder! What more could you ask for? This cannot be happening!

  7. And once again, the CFIA underlines it’s own incompetence and lack of knowledge regarding OUR farm animals.
    They inspect dead meat. Why on earth are they allowed to decree which animals live, and which die? Can they not comprehend laboratory tests?

    The behemoth that is our government really doesn’t know much about anything. They are too busy congratulating themselves on jobs poorly done, and then taking off on another holiday.
    Bureacracy run wild. Good luck, Montana.

  8. Please save this Heritage breed.. There are more and more spinners interested in heritage breed wool. Shropshires have the longest staple of all the down breeds.
    There is no reason to exterminate this herd if it is tested Negative.

  9. As breeders of other heritage breeds we sympathise with you. My wife has maintained a closed flock of Border Cheviots and I run a closed flock of Rambouillets. Once an animal leaves the farm we have no control over what it comes in contact with. Your situation is one of our worst nightmares. We wish you all the best in your fight to preserve the genetics you have.

  10. In 2003, the USDA slammed the US/Canada border shut to ALL ruminants because of one cow in Alberta. Sheep don’t even get BSE but they closed the border anyway. Since then, the bureaucrats have been making Canadian producers jump through all sorts of hoops to get the borders open again. The border is now open under many restrictions for cattle – NOT for sheep and goats. Many years ago, the Canadians opened the border to imports of sheep and goats from the US in a “show of good faith” that has yet to be reciprocated.

    The slaughter of “suspected” scrapie cases is dictated to CFIA by the USDA. Canadians must prove to the USDA, beyond the shadow of a doubt that we have been able to eradicate Scrapie in our National Flock. The slaughter of these “rare” sheep has been dictated by the USDA, not CFIA. If Americans want to save these sheep, then they have to complain to their own USDA. The Americans closed the border and they get to make the rules to get it open again.

  11. Montana, on your main page you asked for suggestions of what we would do in your situation, obviously you have tried every legal and bureaucratic method to delay/prevent this drastic action. You have also been smart enough to try and garner media and public support which is clearly substantial. All this being said it seems clear that they are determined to pursue this ridiculously medieval and shortsighted course of action. I can understand your reluctance to move your flock, as that would be obstruction and could earn you jail time or a huge fine (although I can’t see any jury/judge awarding you jail time).
    As an alternative, might I suggest ‘accidentaly’ leaving the gates to their enclosures unlatched and allowing them to take themselves to pasture – I have no idea how much land you have, but I would guess that the task force arriving on Monday would have significant difficulty wrangling their quota especially if they have to identify specific candidates for termination. You would not be liable for obstruction as you are still providing access to your farm and you could easily argue that the gates had been opened by a well meaning protestor without your knowledge in the night. You have to comply but you don’t have to make it easy – just a thought. Whatever happens I wish you luck – D

  12. corporate farming has been actively using government services as “thugs” to close down smaller family farms so they’re forced into bankruptcy & thus sell the land to the corporations. my friend in sterling told me all about this as his neighbouring community are all small farms experiencing the same tactics. it’s been about 5 years since he told me about this & it’s been going on for decades. in fact a good percentage of the farms in the area have already been forced to sell! criminal!!! the food inspection agencies do little or nothing to police the factory farms, they allow their “in-house inspectors” (paid by each corporation, not gov’t employees) to report without any oversight from gov’t… why do you THINK there’s been a rash of food recalls in recent years?

  13. I DID NOT write the CFIA because what I have to say to them about this government agency would probably land me in jail, just as so many others before me have paid the price for speaking out against government tyranny. First of all, I refuse to address criminals as “honorable” such and so as in the sample letter. There is nothing honorable about what they are doing to family farmers. There is nothing honorable about the criminal, complicit, support of gawd-awful factory farms where animals are treated with total disrespect and cruelty, kept in abominable, close-quarter, unsanitary feed-lot conditions, while being fed GMO foods and drugged to high heaven simply to keep them alive for slaughter. These are the people who CFIA should be going after!!!!!! . . . IF the bureaucrats functioned like responsible people should. But, because the big corporations and PACs donate big bucks to corrupt politicians, they are in fact buying their political support. In essence, governments are no different than how the Mafioso function. I do not, will not, buy meat from animals that have been imprisoned in these kinds of conditions nor with I buy any produce that is not organically grown. EVERYONE should totally and unequivocally boycott these kinds of corrupt operations, FOREVER!!! These people have relinquished all rights to be in business!!! THEY NEED TO BE FORCED OUT OF BUSINESS COMPLETELY. We the people have the power to make sure this happens simply by withholding our support and our dollars. Pledge now to purchase only free-range meat products and produce from local family farmers. STOP SUPPORTING THE FACTORY-FARM CRIMINALS!!!! STOP SUPPORTING CRIMINAL GOVERNMENTS!!!!!

  14. Your story is awful, though I’m glad to see so many people have standing with you.

    I was able to sign the petition, but I couldn’t find the e-mail address for the Minister of Agriculture; is that because a couple of years have passed, or should we still send letters? I’m happy to help you in any way I can.

    I’m sorry for all that you’ve suffered. And I am sorry on behalf of the entire human race for what happened to your healthy sheep.

  15. Could you please do a follow up? I hate to bring back the pain and loss but was anything ever done to right this horrible wrong?

  16. I cant call Gerry ritz honourable , are you serious ?? I see the crimes, there are clearly many victims here, I support freedom and real democracy , not this sick twisted way our government is ,their base is fear and control !

  17. please reconsider. The slaughter of these animals makes no sense at all. There is a solution proposed that should satisfy both parties, yet the government seems unwilling to listen.

  18. So sad, appalling, disgusting, and everything else I can’t even explain! I have sent my letter of support, and will continue to follow this story. I feel so very little next to the government, but hope my little bit will help! I wish you and your friends all the best in this struggle Montana!

  19. Miss Montana,
    We have got your back all the way down here in Florida. I will continue to send letters and I signed the petition. Good luck to you. You are a wonderful woman and are doing great things!

  20. This is not ok. But the worst is, people are so afraid of government, they decide not to speak. Internet action is ok, but how can we allow this? I would have given everything to protect my animals, standing there, not allowing them to go in, get 1000 if necessary to be around my house to stop the government from doing this. Instead of waiting for tragedies to happen, we should act before they do! Let’s learn to stand together in this. For this, we will need braveness.
    Thank you for sharing your story. However I don’t think addressing the government will help. They don’t care if you cant’ touch them. They will care the moment they see 100 or 500 or 1000 people in a house shouting for their freedom. We need to do this.

  21. I cannot imagine what you are going thru. I am so sorry this has happened. I sent the letter and posted on Facebook and will watch this story like a hawk. It’s terrible and disgusting. They should be doing this to meat companies and their senseless animal abuse. Gross. Embarrassed to be Canadian right now. Shame on you CFIA.

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