by Larry Powell

I feel I must respond to a column now appearing in some weeklies in Manitoba, (See bottom) “Agriculture, environment and animal care.”
Cam Dahl, Apologist-in-Chief for Manitoba Pork.

What a masterful piece of propaganda from Cam Dahl, GM of Manitoba Pork, the official mouthpiece of an industry that’s become a runaway train in this province! 

He commits so many sins of omission, trying to convince us of the industry's environmental virtues, Lucifer himself must be blushing!

For example;

Recent tests done for the global charity, World Animal Protection, have found “superbug” genes developing in waterways around large pig barns in this province. 

This is huge. Why? 

Because, while we already know people can ingest superbugs either by coming in close contact with infected animals or eating the meat, this surely reveals a previously unknown pathway these harmful organisms can follow to invade our lives. 

It surely makes those who eat fish from the contaminated water, even the crops fertilized with hog slurry, vulnerable. 

Meanwhile, I guess the comprehensive water-monitoring the industry brags about doing, missed this "minor detail!"

Yet, for years, Manitoba Pork has ignored formal requests from Hog Watch Manitoba to initiate a comprehensive water monitoring program. This could settle, once and for all, the age-old debate over how much nutrient is running off fields spread with liquid manure, into surrounding lakes and rivers. It's non-response has been deafening.

So where's your reference to these things, Cam? Did you forget? Did you not know?

A growing threat

And, if nothing’s done (and little is) about “AMR” , it's on track to claim almost 400 thousand Canadian lives by 2050. It occurs when “superbugs” develop in animals and humans which are either resistant or downright immune to treatment. It’s largely because of the immense amounts of antibiotics being used on both humans and animals. (The industrial livestock sector, however, accounts for the lion's share - almost 80%.)

And, if you don’t believe this is happening right here within the murky confines of our own factory “farms,” think again. 

Latest Government of Canada figures show, infection rates everywhere are getting worse. And the amount of drugs Manitoba’s producers are feeding their herds, is apparently trending upward. (These were being given, not just to treat disease, but to prevent it and to make animals grow faster, too. And they include several considered important in human medication.) 

Almost all of these practices spit in the face of experts everywhere who flatly warn, “Stop giving medications of critical importance in treating deadly human infections, to your animals!” 

Propaganda rules!

This industry believes it can mask science with propaganda. Just watch this corporate video (in which I contrast the "company line" with a dose of reality) to find out what I mean.


Humane treatment of animals.

Dahl would have us believe that his industry nobly protects its animals from undue hardship or cruelty. 

This is a lie. 

Since the dawn of the factory “farm,” operators from Manitoba to Malaysia, have confined millions of pregnant sows to tiny steel cages for much of their lives. It’s a terrible fate these defenceless animals have had to endure for too long. 

Now, it’s one they’ll have to suffer for a lot longer. Why? Because the industry is breaking its promise to do away with these “torture chambers” by 2024, three more years from now. Now, it’ll be at least 2029, another eight! 

So, when is a promise not a promise? When the hog industy makes it! 

Government complicity

Dahl must know that he can spout his falsehoods with impunity. That’s because he has enablers in high places. The Government of Manitoba has long-since abandoned it’s sacred duty as a regulator, holding this bloated industry to enlightened standards which once helped protect us and our environment from its excesses. 

In 2017, under the guise of “cutting red tape,” Premier Brian Pallister and his government: 

1. scrapped a requirement that new barns be built with state-of-the-art pollution control equipment; 

2. slashed fire safety standards, making new barns cheaper but probably even more dangerous for thousands of hapless animals who. because there are no exits, get trapped and perish in horrible infernos when they burn down;

3. and now, a government-appointed board is over-riding local councils who have the audacity to reject new barn proposals.                                                                    

And, as if fertilized by their own by-product, pig factories are now popping up like bad weeds, everywhere. Not surprisingly, this is sewing seeds of discontent and division in once-harmonious communities.

Ag Gag laws

Under the guise of protecting farm animals from injury and disease, the Pallister government has introduced new laws. These make provisions that punish activists who may want to demonstrate on "farm" property. Even though there are already laws to protect against trespassing (one MB producer told me himself, an intruder got six months for coming onto his property some years ago), and even though I was unable to pry from this government any actual examples of such harm, they're pressing ahead, anyway. 

These Ag Gag laws are nothing more than an affront to freedom of the press, freedom to protest and democracy itself! Apparently taking his cue from several knuckle-dragging US States, then some copy-cat provinces, these Draconian measures turn common justice upside down. They do nothing to stop industry transgressions which are now “baked in" to its very DNA. Quite the opposite. They penalize those of us with a conscience, who want to expose them!

My favourite TV comic, Bill Mahr, puts an interesting perspective on Ag Gag laws, from the US side, where they all began.


Court Strikes Down Iowa's 'Ag-Gag' Law That Blocked Undercover Investigations

This government has morphed into nothing more than a tawdry puppet for a high-maintenance, assembly-line pork machine which couldn’t exist if it had to operate in ways that are clean, sustainable or decent. 

A high-maintenance industry

Meanwhile, "BigPigInc." fattens its bottom line by sucking money from hard-working taxpayers (in the form of frequent and generous subsidies). If it (rather than you and me) had to pay for the external costs it imposes on our environment, it would surely wither and die.

A few years ago (to give but one example), this government shelled out more than 800 thousand of our tax dollars (a figure I had to drag from the Government though Access to Information) to help the industry deal with largely self-inflicted losses it suffered, battling “Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea.” 

PED is as horrible as it sounds. Many piglets, just days old, rapidly dehydrate, then die, vomiting and spewing diarrhea. One producer confided to me, “When PED breaks in a barn, there’s a complete loss of all pigs under 14 days old.” 

So how many died, overall? Well, the government claims it doesn’t know and the industry (surprise, surprise), won’t say. It was an ugly chapter in the history of veterinary medicine. Nor will it be the last. African Swine Fever, possibly the worst disease of hogs known, is knocking on North America’s doorstep as we speak. Once it arrives, even industry sources agree, it’ll be a disaster. Even more troubling is the potential that a disease like NIPAH, harmful to both pigs and humans, might take roots here, too. 

Experts say, the crowded, remorseless conditions which have been the trademark on these “farms” for many years, make it easier for these diseases to run rampant.

A legacy of waste

As all this happens, the Manitoba industry ships well over 90 percent of its product to faraway places, while leaving behind one hundred percent of the shit and offal from eight million animals. That’s now what we citizens here at home are left to cope with, not to mention our waterways, long struggling under the burden of poisonous pollution, and wide-spread eutrophication.

Carcasses ready to be hauled away from a Hutterite Colony in SW Manitoba to a rendering plant in Winnipeg. Scenes like this are not uncommon near the provinces hog factories.
A PinP photo.

One informed industry source estimates some three thousand hogs per week die on the province's hog "farms" before reaching market.

Imported corruption.

Dahl must also know by now that the biggest company MB Pork represents, HyLife Foods, is now controlled by a huge and shady, Thai-based conglomerate, “CP Foods.” Six years ago, the Guardian Newspaper exposed CPF as having links, through its seafood division, to slavery and murder on the high seas.

Premier Pallister, this has happened on your watch! You are responsible for letting corporate sleaze like this in to my province, a sovereign space which ought to be safe for its citizens. You are now apparently beholden to any entity that shows up, bearing money. Are these new corporate arrivals greasing the war-chest of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, just like three of HyLife’s founders were doing for at least a decade before the takeover? I have no idea. But it’s surely a question you, Premier, must answer.

Secret and unaccountable.

My repeated attempts to get comments from Manitoba Pork on stories like this, are met with a stony silence. This opaque agency comes out from under its rock only at the time of its own choosing. It is unaccountable, irresponsible and dangerous. And it seems to have little to fear from a compliant and disinterested media. 

Apparently, in Dahl's mind, sweeping aside the veils of secrecy and exposing these realities, make people like me, “Old MacDonalds,” basking in nostalgia for "the old days." 

If there are no alternatives to Cam Dahl's version of "modern agriculture" (which, of course, there are), God help us all! 


Read Cam Dahl's propaganda piece, below. 




PinP said…
AG MIN - Blaine Pederson |
Sarah Guillemard
MB PORK | GM | Cam Dahl |

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