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.
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
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.
Minister if Agriculture Gerry Ritz Mailing Address:
1341 Baseline Road Tower 7, Floor 9, Room 149 Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0C5