Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Real Dirt on Farming

I have just sent the message below to the Farm and Food Care Foundation, which--unbelievably--has status as a charitable organization in Canada. Their flyer "The Real Dirt of Farming" arrived with today's newspaper.In the newspaper itself the organization has taken out a full page advertisement that references the flyer: "we've got straight answers to your questions about food and farming." Straight answers? Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet in Canada, such organizations are granted full status as charitable organizations, while organizations devoted to fighting against the cruelties of intensive farming would not be granted charitable status; under the Harper government such activity would be defined as "political," and charities are not allowed to devote more than 10% of their resources to such activities--a provision that the Canada Revenue Agency is spending a lot of time enforcing against progressive groups. Things are different for Big Agriculture's charity: no doubt it would confidently proclaim that the money it spends on advertising to give Canadians "straight answers" is in no way "political."

Dear Farm Care Foundation

Your “Real Dirt on Farming” flyer arrived with this morning’s paper. It is one of the most misleading publications I have ever seen. Here’s what it says about how non-human animals are treated:
Farmers, like all animal owners, must follow laws for humane treatment—including those in the federal criminal Code. Neglect and abuse of any kind is against the law, and most farmers do a great job of looking after livestock and poultry.
But as you must know, while neglect and abuse may be against the law, causing suffering to farm animals is not; the law only prohibits “willfully causing or permitting to be caused unnecessary suffering or injury.” That “unnecessary” is the legal loophole on which the cruelties of today’s intensive farming rest. A fair defense of what you are doing would begin with a recognition of the suffering you cause, and argue that Canadians are willing to accept that suffering in the interests of having low prices. I wouldn’t agree with that defence, but at least I could respect it. The line you have taken is entirely dishonest.

I cannot believe that this sort of propaganda on behalf of big business is done under the guide of a charitable institution. Shame on you!

Yours sincerely

Don LePan

PS Your website claims that emails sent to this address will go to all directors; I certainly hope so. I will also be copying in the federal and provincial ministers of agriculture, their opposition critics, and as many other interested parties as I can think of. I will also be making a complaint to the Globe and Mail.

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