Montana Jones coverage in local paper

From John Campbell, in the Northumberland News:

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….”

Read more in the Northumberland News.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Montana Jones coverage in local paper

  1. thebovine

    Montana’s comment on the story: “hard to look at…good story but it implies CFIA may pay compensation for killing my last three years of life and my sheep flock—in fact they have not. It also neglects to mention CFIA has no intention of testing the 4 lambs for scrapie. They want them dead because they are genotyped ARQ/ARQ- the best Shropshires are ARQ/ARQ. Minister of Agriculture indicates Canada wants to preserve it’s heritage livestock genetics. Uh huh…how can we do that when CFIA is tracking down and killing all ARQ/ARQ sheep and killing them? I learned they killed 9 more Wholearth Shropshires I sold years and years ago, of the best bloodlines…ALL TESTED NEGATIVE for SCRAPIE..of course.”

  2. Zeb Landon

    The disease that CFIA suspects Montana Jones’ sheep of carrying poses no threat to humans. Agriculture Canada is merely anxious to protect Canada’s export market for sheep, we are led to suppose. And the CFIA presumes the right to interfere in a farm, either because they genuinely believe there is a risk, or, which seems no less likely, simply because they feel bound to maintain a public image of absolute safety.

    So it seems the government’s calculation boils down to its presumed right to snuff out Montana Jones’ years of work to maintain a flock of the rare Shropshire breed, since her enterprise apparently counts for very little in their eyes — as against the much “larger” collective commercial interests of other sheep owners in Canada, whose prosperity is impacted by the sheep export market, and that could be threatened by the presence of Scrapies disease in Canadian sheep. But I don’t understand why quarantine would not meet the government’s objective to protect their export ‘image’.

    Whether Montana could still maintain an income while keeping this rare stock in quarantine may be a practical consideration. I suppose her flock could both grow in numbers with a few sheep periodically being sold for meat, providing income while still respecting a quarantine. But taking away the very gene pool she values undermines her whole motivation for her enterprise.

    I will be interested to see what a court will eventually rule — since it appears clear that Montana’s rights were unnecessarily and excessively ‘stepped on’ (and with a boot!), given the normal adequacy of a quarantine.

    Excessive force = violence. That ‘unnecessary use of force constitutes violence’ I think was Pierre Trudeau’s thesis.

    Besides their rough trampling on rights, the CFIA, whom one assumes are scientifically trained, ought to appreciate as irreplaceable the gene pool which they are wiping out. That seems quite inexcusable in scientists. Agriculture Canada could also research more what causes Scrapies, rather than obsess on the notion of “communicable” disease.
    I do hope the CFIA and/or the Minister of Agriculture can come to a solution to restore justice to the farm.

  3. Zeb Landon

    I have revised the above item, which I hope you will post instead.

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