Alberta communities fight for control over approval of factory farm sites

April 16, 2004

EDMONTON‚ — Residents of the factory farm-affected Grande Prairie area are meeting with their MLA in Falher today, demanding reinstatement of local control over the siting of intensive livestock operations.

Local democratic control over approving the locations of livestock operations in Alberta has been taken away from communities and handed over to the government-appointed Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB).

“This is a process where the approval of livestock factories is the first order of business and water, the environment, and neighbours are afterthoughts,” says Lisa Bechthold, vice-president of SERLO (Society for Environmentally Responsible Livestock Operations) and leader in the successful battle to stop Taiwan Sugar from setting up an 80,000 hog operation in her county.

Public hearings for local residents are being denied by the NRCB, and although municipalities have relayed citizens’ concerns about proposed mega-barn sites, the Board is approving them anyway. Sue Pearson, SERLO’s past president, sums it up: “Make it look good on paper and it will be approved”.

Lisa Bechthold is looking for positive leadership from the Province. “We want the government to support and promote free-range, traditional family livestock operations — not livestock factories that are a detriment to our air, water, land, and health.

The Grande Prairie community’s visit to their MLA’s office is one of many protests against factory farming that will take place across the country today. 1An Ipsos-Reid Poll released today shows that 89% of Canadians want provincial and federal government support to go to family farms with environmentally-friendly livestock production systems and not large corporate farms. In a national day of action, Canadians are telling provincial and federal agriculture ministers that they want “Family Farms NOT Factory Farms!”

The destructive impacts of industrial farming practices are being felt across Canada. Bird Flu is devastating chicken producers in BC. Mad Cow is impoverishing Canada’s cattle farmers. Mega hog barns on the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are putting hog farmers out of business. “Get big or get out” agriculture policies are producing crises and hardship and threatening the long-term viability of Canada’s food production system.


For more information contact: Murray Marsh, SERLO Board member: (403) 337-3531 or (403) 888-0241 Sue Pearson, SERLO Past President: (403) 347-3299 Lisa Bechthold, SERLO Vice-President: (403) 647-7887

1These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid/Council of Canadians poll conducted from March 30th to April 1st 2004. For the telephone survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1000 adult Canadians was interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ¬± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data. Please visit to view the survey findings.