May 1, 2019
by PETER MITHAM
The invasion of an Abbotsford hog farm by protestors shortly after dawn on April 28 was the culmination of days of rumours that such an incident was in the works.
Fraser Valley livestock producers were on alert, and police in Abbotsford were aware of the rumours, but there was no solid evidence until protestors arrived at Excelsior Hog Farm in West Abbotsford. A video of their arrival posted to social media shows dozens of black-clad activists filing into the farm’s clean and orderly barns, declaring it to be the first occupation of a livestock farm in BC.
The protest followed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ release of a video to media on April 22 claiming to show sick pigs at the farm. The video followed a break-and-enter at the farm in late March during which surveillance cameras were installed. Those cameras were removed, and police are investigating.
Abbotsford Police Department communications officer Sergeant Judy Bird said the two incidents are being investigated separately at the moment. While a suspect identified himself to media in the first break-and-enter, police must build a case before laying charges.
The latest incident saw 50 identified, and information taken, but just one arrest was made.
“Our investigation continues, and we will be looking at charges for the protestors with respect to break-and-enter and mischief,” Bird said of the protest.
Run by the Binnendyk family, the farm has maintained an open approach, saying it has nothing to hide. It is one of the first open housing systems in BC for pigs, and places an emphasis on animal welfare.
Bird credited the family’s openness with helping ensure an orderly resolution.
BC Agriculture Council offers communications workshops as part of its public trust initiative built around a “shared values” approach that focuses on CHAT principles – Check your reaction, Hear what others are saying, Acknowledge and ask questions, Tell your story – when dealing with the public. BCAC public trust manager Becky Parker says protocols for dealing with protestors are the purview of individual commodity groups.
Which farm invasions are rare in Canada, Bird said the protest is a reminder that they’re not out of the question. She encourages farmers to report any sort of suspicious activity on their properties to police.
“I don’t recall us having anything like this in Abbotsford before,” she said. “This puts an extra reminder on us that this has the potential to happen again in the Fraser Valley.”
Vol. 105 Issue 5
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
What on earth?
Opposition slams ALC bill
Sidebar: Protection & pushback
Editorial: Truth in labelling
Back Forty: So you don’t believe in climate change
Viewpoint: Don’t blame the cows for global warming
Ag council’s lobbying efforts produce results
Learning a new skill
Foundation’s nest egg for funding projects increases
Province will hold the line on piece rates
New CEO aims to kindle team spirit at co-op
FIRB decision prompts rethink of pricing scheme
Beekeepers see potential in technology transfer
AgSafe markes quarter century
Raspberries hit hard by harsh February
Blueberry growers anxious for new varieties
Biological controls for pests in demand
Sidebar: Pesticides in play
Growers urged to focus on fresh
Westgen celebrates 75 years of excellence
Top seller was no-show at Holstein sale
Spring show attracts exhibitors from Quebec
Cheesemakers unite to grow niche market
Range use permits under greater scrutiny
Sidebar: Range use plans go digital
Market Musings: Top bulls sell for top dollar at spring sales
Grapegrowers share sustainability objectives
Grape specialist honoured for dedication
Hazelnut production expands across BC
Sidebar: Pest pressures
Supporters take to AITC’s Sips & Sprouts
Research: Cultured meat fails to impress researchers
UAVs undergo testing for pesticide delivery
Sustainability goes beyond saving farmland
Father and daughter roll with the last of the steel wheels
Woodshed: Susan Henderson is warming to country life
Wannabe: Farming is more than just a job
Surplus, cull fruit finds new purpose as tasty snacks
Jude’s Kitchen: Special food for special moms