Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread Statement of the Precautionary Principle.


Alberta Hog Mega-Barns May Breed Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
National Farmers Union
June 20, 2001

Bell Hills Lake, Alta. - Between 20-30 million pounds of antibiotics are used on animals each year in North America . Much of that total is mixed with feed rations to promote growth and to prevent disease outbreaks that can ravage large livestock raised in high density, confined conditions

Researchers at the University of Illinois and the Illinois State Geological Survey recently made a conclusive link between antibiotic use in hog barns, the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the escape of that bacteria into the water supplies.

The researchers found tetracycline-resistant bacteria in groundwater downstream from two hog barns. The researchers used DNA-amplification technology to link the resistant bacteria to the hogs at the barns. The study suggested that contaminated groundwater "may be a potential source of antibiotic resistance in the food chain."

In Alberta, water samples taken near a hog barn- from Bell Hill Lake which drains into the Battle River__ show high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. NFU member Dale Fankhanel suggested that the water may also harbour antibiotic resistant bacteria. He will ask the government to use DNA testing to link the bacteria to nearby farms and to test for antibiotic resistance.

"I think citizens have ab important new tool. DNA testing will allow us to link contamination to specific polluters and to monitor the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Fankhanel.

"Governments and factory farms promoters have called for scientific proof of water contamination. That proof is easily available to all who check. However, it is the government's responsibility, not the citizens', to monitor pollution and contamination. While the Government refuses to check water supplies and foists that responsibility onto citizens, factory farms are breeding and releasing antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Fankhanel

Fankhanel pointed to the huge hog barn proposed by a Taiwanese corporation for Hardisty Alberta. "If we know that antibiotic use in hog feed breeds resistant bacteria, and if you know that the resistant bacteria is getting into the water and into people, why would we build more hog mega-barns?" asked Fankhanel.

He continued: "Mega-barns use low-levels of antibiotics and then leave the antibiotics in huge pools of liquified feces for about a year for the bacteria to become familiar with, and adjust to, the drugs. This must be some kind of breeding program for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It really calls into question the sustainability of this kind of livestock production."

Fankhanel concluded: "Citizens are concerned about food safety. Antibiotic resistance is a major food safety issue. If we make bacteria resistant to our antibiotics, we will irrevocably damage human health on this planet."

The research linking antibiotic resistant bacteria in groundwater to nearby livestock facilities was published in the April issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. See the university of Illinois news release for more information on the research findings. 

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Eco-lawyer Kennedy to Meet Alberta Premier to Talk Hog Farms and Water Woes
Canadian Press
March 15, 2002

Environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr. plans to warn Alberta Premier Ralph Klein of the dangers factory farms pose to the province's fresh water supply.

The two are having a private meeting next week. Klein's office confirmed Friday that Kennedy, whose Waterkeeper Alliance has targeted intensive livestock operations as the greatest threat to water in the United States, will meet with the premier Monday after squaring off with Alberta's environment minister at a breakfast fundraiser.

Waterkeeper spokeswoman Robin Greenwald said the giant farms began expanding across the U.S. about 20 years ago. Recent improvements to U.S. regulations are forcing the operators to look elsewhere.

"They have a terrible environmental record in our country," said Greenwald. "You still have a chance to stop them."

Kennedy is also expected to discuss protection of southern Alberta's trout-rich Bow River, which originates in the Rockies and meanders east before merging with the Oldman River in southern Alberta.

Kennedy was skiing in Colorado on Friday and not available for comment.

The Waterkeeper Alliance, an umbrella group of 70 organizations working to protect waterways in North and Central America, believes in success through litigation. It has won more than 150 lawsuits and has legal action pending involving two livestock operations in North Carolina.

Canada has no federal law on water quality and regulations governing its protection vary widely from province to province.

Alberta Environment took over responsibility for approving intensive livestock operations in January. In the past, municipalities have been able to approve or reject planned factory farms.

Government officials say the department can now stipulate stricter manure management practices that will improve environmental safety.

Residents of southern Alberta's feedlot alley -- home to the largest concentration of livestock in Canada with 1.3 million animals -- have long complained of water quality and other health concerns related to the concentration of manure.

Intensive livestock operations are worth billions to the province's economy.

Kennedy has said most industrial polluters are well aware of the environmental harm they're causing and that it is naive to believe education will fix the problems.

During a celebrity fundraiser in Banff in January, Kennedy said he wanted to establish a Waterkeeper chapter that would work to protect the Bow River. That could eventually expand across Western Canada to protect waterways from commercial and industrial exploitation.

His comments raised the ire of Alberta Environment Minister Lorne Taylor, who said the province didn't need "a bunch of rich Americans telling us how to manage our resources."

About 500 people have paid $95 each to see Taylor and Kennedy address their differences at breakfast Monday.

Alberta recently launched a review of its long-term water supply, warning that the province needs a new strategy to maintain future economic and population growth.

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Alberta Agency Stops Hog Futures Contract
Western Producer
August 15, 2003

By Mary MacArthur
Camrose Bureau

Alberta's hog marketing agency temporarily suspended its forward price-contracting program last week because of instability in Canadian meat markets.

Mack Rennie, general manager of the Western Hog Exchange, said since the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a single Alberta cow, it is almost impossible to offer farmers a price for their hogs six months into the future.

"There's so much uncertainty in the industry right now," said Rennie.

With the contracting program, producers could lock in a price six months in the future. By locking in prices for grain and the finished hogs, pork producers could eliminate some of the risks of raising the animals. About 10-15 percent of Alberta's pork producers used the tool, he said.

With the Americans talking about introducing country of origin labelling, the discovery of BSE in Canada and the borders of 34 countries closed to all ruminant animals, there was almost no way Rennie could offer farmers a future price for their animals.

"Six months from now, who knows what's going to happen," said Rennie.

With the price of beef dropping to almost historic lows, consumers are bypassing Canadian pork in the grocery store and stocking up on low-priced beef.

"It goes to reason if beef is being given away, Mrs. Consumer is going to fill her freezer with beef."

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Controversial Bentley Hog Farm For Sale
The Lacombe Globe
December 23, 2003

A lengthy story of community controversy in and around Bentley will soon begin a new chapter. 

Bacon Acres is being sold.

The 18,000-hog operation, which is just south of Bentley, has been the focus of many town residents’ complaints for several years.  They’ve long blamed that intensive livestock operation (ILO) for being the cause of frequent bad odours in the community.

Now Dave Allan, who owns the operation, is selling the farm, which has been in the family for more than three decades, citing “financial troubles in the industry”.

It could have something to do with the fact that he’s put about $1 million into numerous measures to curb various complaints in the past four years.

Negotiations for a lease/purchase agreement are currently in progress with an area farmer, but Allan said even if it goes through it won’t cover the costs he’s put out during the last few years.

He’ll know if the sale is official in January.  Even if it doesn’t happen, he and his family are “probably going to be exiting anyway”.

It’s been a very emotional, trying time for our whole family,” he said.  “In a lot of ways, yes, we are very sad to go”.

Numerous odour complaints have been made to the Town of Bentley and other organizations regarding Bacon Acres for a few years.

According to Bentley’s town manager, John Vogelaar, the odour has put a stranglehold on development within the community.  One complete new subdivision, he said, has been halted because of it.

“They are holding the town back,” he said.  “The smell is keeping it back.”

But the Town of Bentley is powerless to change the matter.

“The Town of Bentley has no hammer to do anything to Bacon Acres, because Bacon Acres is in (Lacombe) County,” said Vogelaar.

A report released a couple of weeks ago by the Farmer’s Advocate of Alberta, part of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, praised Bacon Acres as “an excellent operation, exceeding the generally accepted agricultural practices for the industry”.

It’s based on a tour of the site that was done in October by a peer review committee.  The tour included two people from the Bentley Community Committee who had been asked last February by the Farmer’s Advocate to gather information backing up the complaints.

Norm Lowe, one of those members, said his group had come up with a report three inches thick.

The group was notified just a few days before the tour that they’d be expected to give a formal report at a hearing shortly to follow.

Lowe said his group, unlike Bacon Acres or the Farmer’s Advocate, didn’t have a lawyer, but managed to do it anyway as best as they could.

When he saw the most recent report, Lowe was outraged.

“They didn’t address the issues that we had raised as outlined by the residents of Bentley,” he said.

Since he was on the tour, he knows what the committee saw, what points were made and what issues were brought up.  He said the report didn’t accurately reflect that.

He cited various sections of the report as being irrelevant, unfounded and downright incorrect.

“The whole process, unfortunately, turned out to be a sham,” he said.

But it’s the report that will be submitted to Shirley McClellan, Alberta’s minister of agriculture, food and rural development, and Lowe said what she’ll read is deliberately biased.

“People aren’t mad at Dave Allan; they’re mad at the government,” said Lowe.  “Dave Allan is not to blame for this issue.”

In fact, he said, Allan and his family are excellent, upstanding citizens.  The “serious mistake,” he said, is that the government allowed such a massive ILO to develop so near an urban community.

Also, he said, the issue is no longer the simple annoyance of odours, but the possibility of poisonous gases associated with them, as reported in a study he said was done by Parkland Airshed Management Zone (PAMZ).

Lowe claimed some disturbing PAMZ findings were completely ignored in the recent Farmer’s Advocate report.

Allan maintained that the appropriate procedures were followed and that utilizing outside unbiased agencies was the only way to resolve the problem.

“We believe it was done in fair judgement,” he said.

Lower doesn’t plan to let the issue die, however.  He said he and the Bentley community Committee may critique the entire process and send it directly to Premier Ralph Klein in the hope that he’ll take another look at the procedure.

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Hog Barn Battle Continues
by Natasha Botha
Tuesday May 16, 2006
Fairview Post

Clear Hills County council members have passed a motion to amend their municipal development plan so that it specifically addresses the issue of confined feeding operations (CFOs).

Whether it makes it easier or more difficult for operations to come into the county remains to be seen.

“We have to change it in some way,” explains Bill Kostiw, Clear Hills County CAO.

“Some councillors want to make it easier and some want to stop them altogether.”

The motion, which was passed during the council’s regular meeting on May 16, was followed by a motion made by councillor Pete Nykolyshyn who said, “We need to put this development on hold until we can satisfy the taxpayers. I move that we stop the hog barns from coming in.”

That motion was defeated with only deputy-reeve Jake Klassen and Nykolyshyn voting in approval.

The amendment of the plan will begin on May 16 during a special council meeting. The first reading will most likely be done during council’s next regular meeting on May 23. After that, it goes to public hearing before a second and third reading can put it officially into place.

Opponents of the proposed hog barn operation held a meeting at Eureka River Hall on May 14 where various guest speakers emphasized the negative impacts the barns would bring with them.

Peter Frixel started the meeting by saying, “I don’t think any of us is here by choice. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.”

Dennis Sauvegeau of Falher went on to say, “This industry hasn’t lived up to its promise of economic development in our area. Why would it be different in your county?”

Near the end of the meeting Alberta Alliance Party leader, Paul Hinman invited concerned citizens to visit the Legislature on May 17 to show their concern regarding the issue.

Hinman will be asking the Minister of Agriculture, Doug Horner, a specific question about the issue. The exact question is not yet known. A bus for concerned citizens will be leaving Hines Creek at 5 a.m. on the 17th.

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