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Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain
Like Other Countries Do

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Canadian Farmers want Deadstock Relief

By KATE HAMMER From Thursday's Globe and Mail

A Sunderland man brings a dead cow, calf, pig and lamb to the legislature to protest against new rules replacing government subsidies for animal disposal
Ed the steer led a quiet life, but his corpse sure raised a stink.

Earlier this month, shortly before he was due to be outfitted with a hamburger bun, Ed dropped dead.

Provincial subsidies for deadstock disposal had just dried up, and Ed's owner, dairy farmer Bill Denby, was left to ponder what to do with the animal's nearly 500-kilogram body.

Yesterday, after failed attempts at composting, Mr. Denby transported the steer's corpse 90 kilometres south, from his farm in Sunderland to Queen's Park.

He also brought a dead pig, calf and lamb in protest against new regulations that will come into effect tomorrow and that Ontario Minister of Agriculture Leona Dombrowsky says will provide affordable disposal alternatives in the absence of provincial subsidies.

"Really there's quite a new range of options that will enable producers to manage this byproduct of their industry in a cost-effective, environmentally sound, sustainable way," Ms. Dombrowsky said.

The most economically viable of those alternatives are on-farm disposal methods involving elements such as mass burial vessels and composting with anaerobic bacteria.

"Farmers don't want to have to turn their farms into graveyards," Mr. Denby said.

MPP Ernie Hardeman suggested to the legislature yesterday that deadstock disposal subsidies be continued.

The subsidies began in 2003 after stringent disposal regulations were imposed on farmers in the wake of an outbreak of mad-cow disease. Previously, the carcasses could be ground up,

used for feed or other purposes, and disposed of for a profit, but the new regulations made them a financial liability.

The province stepped in, but in February, after five years and $19.5-million, the ministry declared its subsidy coffers dry and fees for the retrieval and disposal of a dead cow, horse or other large farm animal jumped from about $50 to $200 or more.

This month, frustrated farmers have begun dumping dead animals in wooded areas and creeks, where bacteria and pathogens can reach scavengers or seep into the water system.

"The deadstock collectors have told me that the number of animals they are picking up has decreased dramatically and it is not because the number of animals dying has changed," Mr. Hardeman told the legislature.

(Previous mentions of deadstock inside Queen's Park have led to confusion and discussions on declining stock prices.)

"What we'd like to see is the government wake up and realize that what they've done by removing the funding is that they have created an opportunity to have a biggest environmental crisis," Mr. Denby said.

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