Chicken flu latest in long line of factory farming ills

April 16, 2004

REGINA — Today, Canadians across the country are calling on their provincial and federal governments to put an end to factory farm support programs and start re-building the livestock sector with policies that support healthy, environmentally-friendly family farming.

Nineteen million chickens in BC are on death row due to the Avian Flu epidemic, a disease crisis caused by the excessive concentration of poultry operations in BC’s Fraser Valley. The severity of the disease and the speed it has spread is a clear result of intensive production methods and too many operations too close together.

Factory farms — concentrated poultry operations in the Fraser Valley; giant feedlots in rural Alberta; hog mega-barns on the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick — are driving family farmers out of business, polluting the air and water, and are leading to serious animal disease problems.

Since the early 1990s, the number of family farms with hogs in Canada has fallen from over 29,000 to less than 12,000‚ - a loss of nearly 2/3 in a decade. Yet hog production has increased. This trend toward bigger, more intensive livestock operations is being supported by governments at all levels through policies, programs, tax breaks, regulatory regimes, loan guarantees and even investments which encourage factory farms to off-load costs, over-produce, and vertically integrate with processors.

This vision of Canadian farming is increasingly at odds with the wishes of the Canadian public. An 1Ipsos-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. Today, the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition, made up of national, provincial and local organizations that represent thousands of Canadians, is calling upon governments to do just that.

The Beyond Factory Farming Coalition represents thousands of Canadians through farm, labour, environmental, animal welfare, rural and urban community organizations. Members in communities across Canada are holding anti-factory farming events today.

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For more information contact: Media Officer, Council of Canadians 613.233.4487 ext. 234; 613.795.8685; meera@canadians.org

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 http://www.ipsos-reid.com to view the survey findings.