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Police remove protesters from barn at B.C. farm allegedly shown in PETA video

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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Dozens of protesters rallied at a hog farm in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley on Sunday in a response to a video that activists said showed sick and dead pigs packed into cramped crates at the facility.

About 200 people arrived on buses to Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford at around 6 a.m. About 50 snuck into a barn while another 135 stood outside wearing black shirts that read “Meat the Victims” and singing.

Just before noon, police led the barn occupants out of the building but said they weren’t under arrest. Protester Susan Rowbottom, 28, was among them and said police informed her she was being investigated for mischief, break and enter, and trespassing.

“I am proud to be part of this team. I am proud to be with all my fellow vegans,” she said, adding her eight-year-old son participated in the protest outside the facility. “We just want to open the public’s eyes so they can see and make an informed decision about where their food comes from.”

Abbotsford Police Sgt. Judy Bird said there will be a criminal investigation into the actions of those who entered the barn.

“This is a peaceful protest and people have the right to protest,” said Bird. “However, we also recognize the fact that this is private property.”

The demonstration comes after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video that it said was shot at the farm. The clip posted on YouTube appears to show dead piglets left among living animals, as well as fully-grown pigs with growths and lacerations.

Ray Binnendyk, one of the brothers who operates Excelsior, said the video was shot in secret by someone trespassing at night and he believes some of the images were staged.

“Some of those pictures could not have even been from our farm. We are not sure. I find it’s very hard when someone puts out information that’s incorrect about how we do things here as a family farm,” he said.

“It’s very disturbing to see what traction this gets in the media for people that are implicating us as criminals.”

His brother Jeff Binnendyk said the farm is “clean” and “tight-knit.”

“We’re more scared about the safety of our pigs and about what kind of diseases they’re bringing in or, after all of this is done, what’s going to happen to our herd,” he said.

Rowbottom said protesters inside the barn were wearing biohazard suits with foot coverings and gloves and they did not touch any of the animals.

Ray Binnendyk said the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals was looking into the farm.

The brothers raise the animals to the best of their ability and follow industry guidelines that require veterinarians to visit every few months, Binnendyk said.

“It’s a very hard industry and it’s fun,” he said. “We love what we do and we’re very, very saddened by the fact that we are implicated as bad people when we are not.”

The brothers were joined by dozens of people who arrived on the farm property to support them on Sunday.

Dr. Josh Waddington, a veterinarian who said he visits Excelsior every three months, said the PETA video was meant to show the farm in the “worst light” and he is proud of the care the animals receive there.

After watching the video, he said he spoke with the operators about removing some animals from their pens sooner, but he added that “those things happen.”

“This farm is very well recognized in their ability and their level of care and attention to welfare,” Waddington said. “They have been industry leaders.”

— By Laura Kane in Vancouver, with files from Darryl Dyck in Abbotsford, B.C.

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Agriculture

Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

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Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

Developments are increasingly taking over Canadian farmland. Farms once took up much of Canadian land. However, that case is not true today. Only about 5% of Canada’s land is considered prime farmland. This prime land borders one of Canada’s fastest-growing regions, and once suburban development overtakes it, Canadian farmers will have a challenging time providing food for the cities.

Farmers in Canada make their livelihood by planting, growing, harvesting and distributing food to the Canadian populations. Without land, both farmers and the rest of those living in Canada will not get fresh, Canadian grown produce.

Here are some reasons why Canadian farmers should care about land loss:

  1. Farmland Provides Food

While this is an apparent reason, it’s an essential one. Prime farmland in Canada produces food for major Canadian cities. As farmers continue to lose land, they have to rely on a smaller acreage to make the same amount of food — if not more — for the growing population.

Over the past 10 years, almost 1 million hectares of agricultural land has diminished due to development and growing populations. Agriculture continues to adapt to land loss. However, further technological advancements must first take place to grow enough produce vertically rather than horizontally.

  1. Land Preservation Will Help the Economy

Farmland preservations come with a wealth of economic benefits. Agriculture contributes to the economy through the following ways:

  • Sales: For the economy to survive, there needs to be consumer demands and sales. Almost everyone purchases produce, so there will always be a demand for those goods. Without land to grow agricultural products, no sales will be made, and the economy could suffer.
  • Job opportunities: Less than 2% of Canada’s population works in the agriculture industry. While it’s not much, that’s still over 750,000 people. Preserving farmland shows a commitment to the industry. Land loss would create job loss. However, maintaining the farmland — and even reclaiming it, along with pastures — could boost the sector and, therefore, the economy. It would provide unemployed people with job security.
  • Secondary markets: Farmers are just one part of the food business. Because of farmers and farmland, secondary markets can thrive. These would include processing businesses, restaurants, schools, grocery stores and even waste management companies.

Canadian farmers should care about land loss because standing back and allowing companies to overtake the farmland could seriously affect the economy.

  1. Farmland Benefits the Environment

Wildlife often depends upon farmland for both food and habitat. Various types of farmland create diverse habitats for many different species. Without land protection, these habitats and food sources would be destroyed, leaving many animals without a place to survive. Many would have difficulty finding a native habitat.

Additionally, growing crops helps eliminate some of the carbon dioxide released into the air. Air pollution could decrease for Canadian cities as long as no more farmland is used for development.

One major problem occurring with Canadian farmland is desertification. This happens when the soil loses nutrients and becomes barren. The urbanization of Canadian farmland is the primary contributor to desertification, which speeds up climate change and harms the environment. Keeping farmland as-is will slow down climate change.

  1. Land Loss Affects Farmers’ Jobs

Perhaps the main reason why Canadian farmers should care about land loss is because their livelihood could be taken away. If they don’t have the means to keep up with technological advancements in the agricultural industry, they will not be able to continue their jobs if they experience land loss.

Agriculture is an essential industry. Not everyone can pick up the skills needed to grow their own food, and so many people depend upon farmers for nutrition and goods.

Take a Stand to Preserve Farmland

Farmland is a worthwhile and precious resource for many people. Reduction in farmland acreage will hurt Canadian farmers and the rest of the population, the economy and the environment. Taking steps to prevent more land loss can slow the rates of destruction and keep natural habitats thriving for both humans and animalls.

Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Agriculture

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

It’s no secret that agriculture has contributed to climate change through various means. For example, you may know that livestock generates greenhouse gas emissions due to how farms process it. That said, it’s now clear that farmers have found sustainable ways to offset those contributions. In Canada, it’s all about energy use.

Here’s how Canadian farmers have become more efficient as they raise crops and livestock, setting a standard the world should follow.

Energy Demand and Consumption Have Fluctuated

The demand for energy has increased across the agricultural sector as a whole. However, it’s key to note that farmers have begun to use less energy despite that fact. That points to more efficient practices. The farmers who complete their work productively save time, money and energy. As a result, Canadian workers have reduced their energy consumption per dollar by 17%. That’s thanks to sustainability.

The most common energy sources include fuel, gas and electricity. It’s how farmers use those resources that counts. Combined with technology choices and new practices, it’s clear that efficiency is more achievable than ever.

What Contributes to This Phenomenon?

It’s crucial for people in agriculture to explore eco-friendly alternatives. The grasslands that many western Canadian farmers cultivate contains excess carbon, so you can imagine what the country as a whole holds underneath its surface. Farmers have now adopted new methods to adjust how they harvest their crops. These systems are better for production, as well as soil and seed health overall.

The agriculture industry has gone through many changes, too. There are fewer farms — but those that still operate have employed agricultural technology to be as efficient as possible. These tools include different equipment that cuts down on time to increase proficiency. Plus, it’s now more common to use solar power as an alternative to traditional energy solutions.

Why Accuracy and Precision Matters

It’s a lot easier to be energy efficient when you don’t waste your resources. The means farmers practiced before they used specific innovations often created a time deficit. If you have a smaller machine, you likely need to do twice as much work. However, when you have access to equipment that fits your field, you don’t have to be as wasteful. The accuracy and precision created by technology make this a reality.

Soil Conservation Is Led by Ranchers

Many farmers have looked to ranchers for help. It’s a native part of ranching to preserve topsoil and other elements that are inherently sustainable. As a result, it seems like ranchers have been leading the charge against climate change for decades. The tactics they use to avoid tilling soil, for example, help preserve the amount of carbon that lies underneath the Earth’s surface.

The “no-till” practice is efficient in its own right. Rather than till your soil to plant a new crop, you simply leave behind what’s already there. This method is much better for soil nutrition, and it can keep carbon exposure at bay. As a result, you have much fewer carbon emissions. In general, the idea of soil conservation isn’t a new one, but old tricks can still work alongside modern technology.

The Future of Agriculture in Canada Looks Bright

If farmers continue on this path, it’ll be clear that climate solutions are at the forefront of their minds. These efforts create more benefits for them as they save time and money. Plus, there’s always the responsibility of maintaining the planet’s health. After all, without a strong ecosystem, agriculture would suffer. Through means that are more accurate and conservative, Canadian farmers have been able to become more efficient. Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

 

 

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