A worrisome consultation

The BC Ministry of Agriculture is completing an Animal Health Consultation. It was brought to my attention by the remarkable people on the BC Food Systems Network listserv. Unfortunately, the discussion paper and survey are solely from the perspective of industrial farming.

The problem reminds me of some of the old arguments against protecting the Garden City Lands that were harmfully meaningless because they assumed industrial farming, which would indeed be a disaster in the Richmond City Centre. In contrast the urban agriculture proposals in the Visions for the Lands are well suited to the location.

If you go to the Ministry’s Animal Health Consultation page, you can access the discussion paper and survey, which now has a deadline of  midnight on January 30, 2011 (even if the old January 23 deadline is still showing).

With permission, I’m going to share with you some survey comments from the insightful Jan Steinman of EcoReality, Saltspring Island:

I am distressed at the total lack of recognition in this paper that small farming is fundamentally different from industrial farming. Almost all large-scale animal health issues come from large-scale farms, and yet no mention is given that the two have completely different animal health management needs.

Nor was any recognition given to subsistence farming as an important lifestyle. Are these policies to be applied to the family with a milk cow, a dozen chickens, and a couple of pigs?

“Animal health management” of a 50,000 bird egg farm is fundamentally different from that of the 99-hen “backyard” flock. Whereas huge monoculture animal herds are particularly susceptible to pandemics, a diverse patchwork of small producers of different animals, breeds, and varieties is particularly resilient to pandemics.

At a time when reduced carbon emissions, improved food security, and increasing food sovereignty are being promoted by all levels of government, the animal health policy paper stands in stark contrast.

Just as recent changes in abattoir regulations have decimated the local production of food, aggressive implementation of the animal health management policies outlined in this paper will reduce our food supply locality, diversity, and resiliency. Farmgate sales, farmers’ markets, and even local food production advocacy groups (some of which have been infiltrated in the name of “surveillance”) may be endangered by a strict and aggressive implementation of these policies.

Please start over, with the primary goal of prevention, based on diversity and resilience. Neither word appears anywhere in your paper.


  1. 1
    April Says:

    Now is the time to move the food revolution forward.

    Just sat with Will Allen yesterday for lunch and an informative Q&A session in the evening. His interpretation of the local food movement was pure positive. He would know: he travels the world listening to people farming 200 square feet to 200 acres. It is growing, it is big and it is here to stay.

    Governments can implement all the rules and regulations they want, but they are too little too late to catch up to what we have created. The people in this are far too passionate to be bombard with rules and regulations too stupid to follow.

    It is also a movement that is gaining interest from people you that would surprise you: doctors and lawyers: professionals wanting a change of lifestyle. Monocrop and factory farmers are paying attention to growing more profits on less land. Way less land!

    We will move ahead, growing the food revolution, learning many new things – ways to make income, adding people and doing the things we need to do to make it happen, because we have the support of those that want to buy it. And that is power. So governments, leave your rules and regulations at home, come out from your ivory towers and get your hands into the soil and learn, really learn, what this is all about. It is not a trend. It is not a fad.

    It is real and it cannot be stopped. Not now. I for one, am very, very excited!

  2. 2
    Al Says:

    Re Will Allen article

    Find it interesting that the RICHMOND REVIEW, upon request, will not corroborate the contention via the weekly ” Shades of Green” column published in late Jan 2011 which implies that $700,000 PROFIT can be made from 4 acres of land.

    The RICHMOND REVIEW was informed that the City of Richmond’s own Agricultural Viability studies duly noted that Richmond farms on average produce approx $7500 per acre GROSS.

    Even if this was $7500 P-R-O-F-I-T/acre , the differential in the Shades of Green data is orders of magnitude in contrast to Richmond’s reported agri-potential . In other words, I call BULLSHIT

    The RICHMOND REVIEW has been given notice that a complaint will be filed to its adjudicating body for poor editing, taking anything/everything at face value and not printing what we feel is the appropriate retraction vis -a -vis correction.

    What should also be duly noted is the RICHMOND REVIEW , via due diligence performed earlier this week, is a TENANT of a building owned by..drum roll…The City of Richmond aka LANDLORD.

    Wow what a coincidence !!!!

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