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Agriculture

Valour… the amazing story of an Alberta horse with an incredible will to live

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11 minute read

“They survived a horrible, horrible situation. They survived on nothing; on twigs and leaves.” 

From Alberta SPCA

Watch Valour’s Amazing Story

 

The large, male horse runs with vigor when called for breakfast. Valour lives at an equine-facilitated healing ranch northwest of Edmonton where he doesn’t have to worry about food. When the human clients arrive at Infiniti Trails 4 Healing, Valour and the other horses on the ranch offer their soothing equine talents to help people relax and move energy around their bodies. It is a stress-free life for a horse that has endured his share of distress.

There was a time not too long ago when Valour could never count on his next meal. The Alberta SPCA was called out to a property in April of 2018 because neighbours had discovered skinny horses tucked away on a winter pasture far from the eyes of passersby. One horse was already dead and the others were in poor shape. Valour was one of those horses.

Valour at Equine-Facilitated Healing Ranch

“The first time I saw him, he walked up to me and put his head in my chest and he sighed,” says Alberta SPCA Peace Officer Karen Stevenson, who was the first to see the stallion.

Peace Officer Karen Stevenson

Peace Officer Stevenson found four horses that were still alive, but Valour was in the poorest health. She classified his body condition to be a one out of nine. He was so weak, Stevenson lead him out of the deep snow to conserve his energy.

“I was worried if he went down he wasn’t going to get up,” says Stevenson. “Valour stopped and placed his head on my chest and my heart broke. I knew this horse would probably die.”

The Peace Officer immediately started formulating a plan to get the horses out of the situation, but it takes a team of people and the right equipment to load and transport horses, and she didn’t have that with her. Stevenson had to hope Valour could survive one more night on his own.

“I took a minute and rubbed his head and he sighed,” recalls Stevenson. “I told him, ‘Fight like you have never fought before. Give me one more night, I will be back tomorrow with a lot of good people who are going to get you out of this nightmare’.”

Stevenson then started walking back to her truck. As she did, she looked back at the horse who was clearly heartbroken to see his new friend leaving.

“When I turned back, Valour was looking at me for a while and then he just dropped his head as if he was going to give up,” Stevenson explains. “In my five years with the Alberta SPCA, this was the hardest time I’ve ever had walking away from animals.”

Valour – April 2018

Valour Taken Into Protective Custody

A team from the Alberta SPCA arrived at the property the next morning to seize the horses and get them help. However, Stevenson’s heart sank when she first arrived and couldn’t find Valour. She was convinced he hadn’t made it through the night.

“I walked the field and then I saw the saddest picture ever,” says Stevenson. “He was standing in the willows trying to eat twigs and dry leaves.”

The next challenge was figuring out a way to get the horses into the trailer as the team did not know if they were halter broken. However, all it took was a pail of grain and a whistle and the horses came stampeding over.

“I had to run through the snow. I thought they were going to run me over. I have never seen horses so hungry.”

The four horses were transported to an equine veterinarian to begin the road to recovery. For Valour, however, the prognosis was still very dire. The paint horse was in rough shape.

Valour In The Days & Weeks After Being Seized

“They went right to the feed and it was four of them,” explains Dr. Melissa Hittinger, a veterinarian contracted by the Alberta SPCA. “But by that afternoon [Valour] went down and he stayed down for over a month, on and off.”

In the process, Valour developed extensive rub sores all over his body, and he was losing hair. Often in situations like this, horses are euthanized, but Valour seemed to have a fighting spirit. The medical team attached a harness to the stallion and would lift him back to his feet, hoping that he just needed a little time to regain his strength.

“In our experience with them, once they are down, they are done.”

“In our experience with them, once they are down, they are done,” explains Dr. Hittinger, referring to horses that go down. “With him [though] it was like, ‘Oh, thanks, I needed that,’ and then he just tootled off.”

There were a few times it seemed Valour would not recover. But each time the team contemplated euthanasia, they would find Valour on his feet. He was not willing to give up, so neither were they.

And slowly, Valour started to regain all the muscle he had lost. Slowly, the weight went back on. Slowly, the strength of a stallion came back and the personality of a vibrant horse emerged.

Valour’s Progression Over The Summer of 2018

Valour Heads To New Home

Valour’s impressive recovery meant that he was now ready to move to a permanent home. The decision was made to send him to Michele Keehn to use at her equine-facilitated healing ranch. The horse who embraced the help of so many people was now ready to start paying it forward.

“He’s very aware. He’s… always watching what’s going on,” says Keehn. “He’s very vibrant and strong, curious, but very sure. He’s got this sureness about himself, this confidence.”

Valour During Equine-Facilitated Healing Session

On this day, Valour has a special visitor. Peace Officer Karen Stevenson has come to see the horse she rescued, and the environment he now lives in. She is fighting back tears as she sees a horse that is very different than the one she feared would not survive the night one year earlier.

Emotional Reunion

As Stevenson walks out of the barn, she slowly walks up to Valour and puts her arms around his neck. She whispers to him, “Hi buddy. I told you I would get you better. I told you to fight hard and that we would get you a better life. You did so good, you did so good. You did it.”

This is a surreal moment for the veteran Peace Officer. She rarely gets to see the animals she saves once they have arrived at the caretaking facility. Most animals are gifted to organizations that find new homes for them and Alberta SPCA Peace Officers are not a part of that process. Stevenson is soaking up this opportunity to see how much her efforts make a difference.

Karen & Valour – April 2019

“They survived a horrible, horrible situation. They survived on nothing; on twigs and leaves.” 

“They survived a horrible, horrible situation. They survived on nothing; on twigs and leaves,” recalls Stevenson.

And while this moment is both emotional and rewarding, Stevenson is quick to deflect the accolades.

“It wasn’t just me, it was everybody [at the Alberta SPCA],” Stevenson says. “It was everybody who comes to work every day. It was everybody who puts in hours and hears sad stories and just works tirelessly to get this result.”

On this day, Valour appears proud to be showing off his new home. At one point, he lies down and rolls in the dirt, and then quickly pops back up. It’s a bold reminder of how far Valour has come, from a horse so thin and weak he could not stand, to a horse that jumps to his feet with ease.

He seems to be soaking up the attention. And Stevenson is enjoying watching him live his best life.

“I can guarantee you that every peace officer who starts their day tries to make stories like this happen,” says Stevenson.

And she whispers to Valour, “Enjoy it buddy, you deserve this. You fought so long and hard. Enjoy it.”

It’s clear Valour has every intention of doing just that.

Before & After

April 2018 Shortly After Being Seized
April 2019 at Equine-Facilitated Healing Ranch

Make A Donation Today

The care and recovery for neglected horses is expensive. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to support the important work of the Alberta SPCA.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Agriculture

European farmers continue to protest New World Order’s anti-food agenda

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From LifeSiteNews

By Frank Wright

As the farmer-led protests in the EU rage on, globalists are slowly learning that labeling those demanding the ability to provide food for the future as ‘extremist’ is not going to work.

Farmer protests in Europe continue to escalate, with Belgian farmers blockading the capital yesterday, Monday February, 26, with 900 tractors and driving through police barricades.  

Belgian farmers sprayed police with manure and lit bonfires with tires in a fiery day of action which saw barbed wire and anti-tank obstacles placed outside European Union institutions, and police dousing the crowd with water cannons.  

The action comes days after a convoy of Spanish farmers lead an estimated 20,000 people to protest outside the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture.  

The plea of one Spanish farmer at the February 21 protest was stark. Silvia Ruiz, 46, a livestock farmer from the north-central area of Burgos told The Associated Press.  

It is impossible to live from the rural industry, which is what we want, to live from our work. That is all we ask for.

 Video from Madrid showed the scale of the protest, at which AP said banners were displayed reading “Farmers in Extinction” and “There is no life without farming.”

Spanish farmers conducted another four-day national action in early February, their complaints echoing what The Daily Telegraph called “common talking points from what has been an eruption of farmers protests in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy and Spain over recent months.” Protests have also emerged in England and Wales in recent months. 

Reasons to be fearful

The reasons given by farmers for their Europe-wide action present a direct challenge to the policies of European governments – which they say are resulting in extreme pressure on small-scale farmers. British farmers issued a desperate plea last September, saying they too were “struggling to survive.”

So what are the issues facing European farmers? This report examines the policies and practices which have combined to produce a hostile environment for Europe’s small scale farmers. 

Agenda 21 – a coordinated effort?

A documentary published by the Epoch Times in September 2023 argues that soaring food prices and food shortages “have little to do with climate change – but are the direct result of an environmental policy that was conceived over 30 years ago.”

The reference in the documentary, titled “No Farmers: No Food” is to“Agenda 21,” the United Nations’ “Master Plan for Humanity” for the 21st Century. Now renamed Agenda 2030, with that year being given as the target for the agenda’s implementation, it is a program that dates back as far as 1989. 

The agenda’s seemingly laudable goals to “eradicate global poverty,” reduce consumer waste and combat the degradation of the natural world whilst promoting prosperity can be seen in another dimension. 

An ‘excuse for government to do what they want’

Christian journalist Alex Newman says in the documentary that this noble-sounding agenda simply “gives government an excuse to do whatever they want, under the guise of meeting these goals.”

From its inception, the “master plan” demanded increased “trade liberalization,” the strengthening of “international institutions” backed by a series of “development banks” from government and private finance to drive accelerated global coordination. 

Yet “trade liberalization” and a punitive regulatory environment are two factors cited by farmers across Europe which they say are threatening their very existence.  

‘Green’ farmers also in protest

Farmers who support measures to limit pesticide use and the move to less polluting means of production have also mobilized to protest against “the neoliberal policies in agriculture the WTO has been promoting for decades which have led to the systematic impoverishment of farmers.” 

A group called the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), which represents small-holder farmers in 21 European countries, highlights the worsening struggle for survival faced by small-scale farmers. In a February 25 report, farmers Morgan Ody and Vincent Delobel spoke out in advance of the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi.  

These are the people who produce Europe’s food – whether conventionally or organically, on a small or a medium scale. They stand united by a shared reality: They are fed up with spending their lives working incessantly without ever getting a decent income. We have reached this point after decades of neoliberal agricultural policies and free trade agreements. Production costs have risen steadily in recent years, while prices paid to farmers have stagnated or even fallen.

The effect on small-scale farmers has been devastating – but beneficial for corporations.  

“All the while, through mergers and speculation, large agroindustrial groups have gotten bigger and stronger, putting increased pressure on prices and practices for farmers.”  

‘Like the Soviet Union’

This argument, coming from farmers supportive of sensible “sustainable development” measures, echoes a warning given by U,S, conservative scholar Victor Davis Hanson. 

Hanson’s segment in “No Farmers: No Food” treats this issue as a matter of the concentration of food production in the hands of the state – or under its direction. 

They feel that humans don’t need meat-based protein. They want to either force people to follow their paradigms – or they want to buy or accumulate farmland and that’s how they’re going to farm it.

It’s sort of like Mao’s cultural revolution or the Soviet Union – and it results in disasters.

At least 45 million people are said to have “been starved, tortured or beaten to death” under Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” with the forced collectivization of farms in the Soviet Union contributing to a famine which caused the deaths of at least 3 million people between 1931 and 1934. 

Hanson says this example does not deter the “academic mind,” which “always has the answers, but never in the real world.”

What is happening in the real world is, according to Hanson, the systematic global consolidation of farming in the hands of state and corporate power. 

“They want large blocks [of farming] run by the government – or by private consortia” where meat can be largely eradicated by the control of agricultural production. 

The real world action of Bill Gates

Hanson cites the example of Bill Gates’ purchase of large tracts of farmland, coupled with the stated objectives of his “philanthropic” organization.   

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had by 2017 granted an estimated $6 billion of investment in the future of farming according to one small farmer’s campaign group, GRAIN.  

Its 2021 report argued that the foundation is “driving the food system in the wrong direction,” saying “[Gates’] funding overwhelmingly went to research institutes rather than farmers. They were also mainly directed at shaping policies to support industrial farming, not smallholders.” 

Far from providing “the substantial flow of new and additional financial resources to developing countries” exhorted by the 1989 UN statement on Agenda 21,  the Gates Foundation sends 80-90 percent of its funds to U.S. and Europe based NGOs, “buying political influence” and promoting a “corporate-industrial farming agenda.”  

The funding patterns of Gates’ so-called charity “illustrates the point of where the priorities of the Foundation lie.” 

Killing small farmers

These priorities are opposed to those of small farmers – whether in the developed or the developing world. Both populations are plagued with farmer suicides – from India through Australia and the United States, given plummeting prices and the increasing pressure to consolidate farming. Studies in Ireland, France and the U.K. show far higher rates of suicide amongst farmers – a trend that has continued over the last decade, as this 2015 report shows. 

The pressure driving farmers to desperation is related to a model exampled, as Alex Newman argues, on that adopted in China. 

“We are seeing that in China now, where these giant, mechanized, corporate, big-government controlled mega-farms are displacing all these little small family farms,” he says.

The stated aims of Agenda 30 may be an example of Hanson’s “academic answer” – which is contradicted by the real world effects it has produced.  

Ally versus ally?

Diplomatic tensions now accompany farmer protests, and have spread beyond Eastern Europe to the West. 

The Prime Minister of France Gabriel Attal responded to recent protests in France, acknowledging a further dimension of the threat to small farmers’ livelihoods: cheap imports from Ukraine.  

Attal said his government is working to protect French farmers against imports from Ukraine of chicken, eggs, sugar and cereals. 

“Solidarity with Ukraine is obviously essential, but it cannot be to the detriment of our farmers,” the prime minister said.

Attal’s remarks, reported by Britain’s Independent on February 22, recall the ongoing blockade of the border by Polish farmers – undertaken in protest against cheap imports. 

Poland continues to block Ukrainian grain

Farmers have attempted to block imports of Ukrainian grain, with two acts of grain destruction alleged in the past month. Ukrainian news outlet European Pravda reported the following incident  

On the night of 24-25 February in Poland, Ukrainian grain exports suffered the most extensive damage since the beginning of the farmer protests, with the attackers damaging 160 tonnes of Ukrainian grain.

A social media post recorded the aftermath of the grain spill, showing the alleged sabotage. 

The incident comes weeks after a similar event on February 11, when according to the same report, “Polish farmers protesting near the Ukrainian border spilled some grain from three Ukrainian lorries near the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint.” 

The Ukrainian deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov complained of “160 tons of Ukrainian grain destroyed…[in] the fourth case of vandalism at Polish railway stations.”

Farmers fighting for a viable life are now fracturing former alliances, showing the state-level impact of the issue of food security. 

Against the grain

Polish farmers began their attempts to block Ukrainian imports in late November, with assurances from the new Polish Minister of Agriculture providing only a temporary pause. The protests follow a troubled year for Ukrainian grain exports, with the EU conceding to demands from Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia with a temporary ban on Ukrainian maize, wheat, rapeseed and sunflower seed from May-June, 2023. 

The ban was extended until September 15. When it was lifted, Reuters reported that “Slovakia, Poland and Hungary imposed national restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports after the European Union executive decided not to extend its ban on imports into those countries and fellow EU members Bulgaria and Romania.” 

The reason supplied was to protect domestic farmers from being undermined by cheap imports.  

“The countries have argued that cheap Ukrainian agricultural goods – meant mainly to transit further west and to ports – get sold locally, harming their own farmers.” 

Following the elections on October 15, the incoming Polish government of Donald Tusk, a noted globalist, appears unwilling to confront the farmers directly. Last week, the Polish government snubbed the Ukrainian delegation, failing to appear at a recent meeting convened by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to end the crisis. According to Agence France Presse (AFP): 

Ukraine’s prime minister went to the border with Poland on Friday [February 23] hoping to end weeks of protests by Polish farmers but he said no-one from the neighboring government turned up for talks.

Zelensky proposed the frontier meeting, issuing a statement saying Ukraine’s grain did not go to the Polish market “at the request of the Polish side.”

Zelensky’s remarks appear to be contradicted by the continued attempts to export Ukrainian grain into Poland. 

He added: “We are willing and will do everything to resolve this issue.” 

But Tusk’s chief of staff Jan Grabiec told AFP that Warsaw had not sent a delegation because a meeting “makes no sense at the moment.”

He said the two sides were “far” from a deal to end the showdown. 

“Unfortunately, there is not yet a Ukrainian proposition that allows to hope for an end to the deadlock in commercial relations.” 

The two governments are set to meet on March 26 in an attempt to resolve a crisis, which by then will have been ongoing for over ten months. The snub by Tusk’s pro-EU and pro-Ukraine administration shows the extraordinary power of the farmer’s movement in shifting public opinion on an alliance which formerly saw Zelensky receive a “hero’s welcome” in Poland last April. Going against the Ukrainian grain was unthinkable only a year ago.  

Farmers and the future

The farmer protests have been caricatured as “agrarian populism” – a progressive phrase intended as as slur. In characterizing these protests as irrational, and bracketing them with extremism, critics such as the U.K.-based European Consortium for Political Research seek to frames this crisis as one which “emphasizes the antagonistic relationship between the virtuous peasants and people from the countryside on the one side, and the evil and corrupt urban elites on the other.” 

Yet the farmer movement is not driven by fantasies of good and evil, but by basic reality. Farmers across the world claim the current system is threatening their very existence.  

Many are taking their own lives, with many others taking to the streets. It seems that some governments are now taking notice. As the protests continue, the message is breaking through to the would be managers of the Master Plan for Humanity – that if the demand for food and a future without misery is defined as extremist, then it is not the small-scale farmers who must give way. 

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Agriculture

EU Farmers Rise Against the Climate Cult

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

BY David ThunderDAVID THUNDER  

The EU Commission is playing a dangerous game. On the one hand, they are attempting to placate farmers by making expedient short-term concessions to them. On the other hand, they are holding fast to their commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 90% by 2040

Many major arteries connecting Europe have been obstructed or brought to a standstill in recent days by a wave of protests by farmers against what they claim are overly burdensome environmental targets and unsustainable levels of bureaucracy associated with EU and national farming regulations.

The warning shots of this showdown between policymakers and farmers had already been fired on 1st October 2019, when more than 2,000 Dutch tractors caused traffic mayhem in the Netherlands in response to an announcement that livestock farms would have to be bought out and shut down to reduce nitrogen emissions. Early last year, Polish farmers blocked the border with the Ukraine demanding the re-imposition of tariffs on Ukrainian grain.

But it was not until early this year that an EU-wide protest was ignited. German and French protests and tractor blockades made international news, and the blockades were soon replicated in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, and Ireland. Major highways and ports were blocked and manure was poured over government buildings, as farmers across Europe expressed their frustration at rising farming costs, falling prices for their produce, and crippling environmental regulations that made their products uncompetitive in the global market.

It seems the farmers have European elites rattled, which is hardly surprising, given that EU elections are just around the corner. While the European Commission announced Tuesday it was still committed to achieving a 90% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2040, it conspicuously omitted any mention of how the farming sector would contribute to that ambitious target. Even more tellingly, the Commission has backed down or fudged on key climate commitments, at least temporarily.

According to politico, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday that “she was withdrawing an EU effort to rein in pesticide use.” The climbdown on this and other Commission proposals relating to farming was rather embarrassing for the Commission but politically inevitable, given that the protests were spreading rapidly and farmers were showing no signs of going home until their demands were met. As reported by politico,

A note on the possibility of agriculture cutting down on methane and nitrous oxides by 30 percent, which was in earlier drafts of the Commission’s 2040 proposal, was gone by the time it came out on Tuesday. Similarly excised were missives on behavioral change — possibly including eating less meat or dairy — and cutting subsidies for fossil fuels, many of which go to farmers to assist with their diesel costs. Inserted was softer language about the necessity of farming to Europe’s food security and the positive contributions it can make.

The EU Commission is playing a dangerous game. On the one hand, they are attempting to placate farmers by making expedient short-term concessions to them. On the other hand, they are holding fast to their commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 90% by 2040, while fudging on the fact that a 90% emission cut in 16 years would have drastic implications for farming.

It is clearly politically expedient, especially in an election year, to put out this fire of farming discontent as soon as possible, and buy some peace ahead of June’s European elections. But there is no avoiding the fact that the Commission’s long-term environmental goals, as currently conceived, almost certainly require sacrifices that farmers are simply not willing to accept.

Independently from the merits of EU climate policy, two things are clear: first, EU leaders and environmental activists appear to have vastly underestimated the backlash their policies would spark in the farming community; and second, the apparent success of this dramatic EU-wide protest sets a spectacular precedent that will not go unnoticed among farmers and transport companies, whose operating costs are heavily impacted by environmental regulations like carbon taxes.

The Commission’s embarrassing concessions are proof that high-visibility, disruptive tactics can be effective. As such, we can expect more of this after June’s EU elections if the Commission doubles down again on its climate policy goals.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Author

  • David Thunder

    David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Navarra’s Institute for Culture and Society in Pamplona, Spain, and a recipient of the prestigious Ramón y Cajal research grant (2017-2021, extended through 2023), awarded by the Spanish government to support outstanding research activities. Prior to his appointment to the University of Navarra, he held several research and teaching positions in the United States, including visiting assistant professor at Bucknell and Villanova, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Princeton University’s James Madison Program. Dr Thunder earned his BA and MA in philosophy at University College Dublin, and his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Notre Dame.

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