TRENT HILLS – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) showed up again at Wholearth Farmstudio last Saturday to collect four more sheep it suspects could have scrapie.
Montana Jones said a cavalcade of about 20 CFIA personnel and OPP officers arrived at her farm east of Hastings around 8 a.m. Sept. 22 to execute a search warrant for four lambs. The four-month-old sheep were removed without incident to be slaughtered and tested for scrapie. The federal government has argued the animals’ genotype, ARQ, makes them susceptible to the degenerative neurological disease that’s fatal to sheep but not considered a threat to humans.
It’s the latest chapter in a three-year-old battle Ms. Jones has waged with the CFIA to protect her flock of rare Shropshire sheep. The dispute escalated last December when Ms. Jones made public the agency’s plans to destroy more than 40 of her animals.
However, despite a petition that drew hundreds of names, and an intervention by the Canadian Constitution Foundation, she has been powerless to stop the largest flock of Shropshire in Canada from being reduced from 75 animals three years ago to eight ewes, three lambs and two rams, all of a genotype the CFIA considers less susceptible to scrapie.
“There’s no scrapie here, there never was but they have to follow through now to save face,” an upset Ms. Jones told reporters Saturday after agency officials had departed.
None of the dozens of animals that were tested was determined to have the disease; only one animal, which died on the farm, tested positive, a finding Ms. Jones has rejected because the government has refused her request for tissue samples that she can have tested independently.
In an interview last December, Dr. Penny Greenwood, the CFIA’s national manager of disease control and animal welfare, said the federal government is determined to erase scrapie because its impact “is very significant as far as trade in sheep and goats and related products” is concerned.
“If we’re going to pursue total eradication in the country, it is necessary to be very risk intolerant, so we do have to go after every possible case.”
The agency’s investigation at Wholearth Farmstudio “resulted in us classifying the animals as high risk,” Dr. Greenwood said.
The prolonged battle has left Ms. Jones in dire straits. Unable to generate income on a farm that’s been quarantined, she recently received notice of foreclosure from her bank….”