I know it is a tough spot, but I was pleased to see Alberta hog producer Arnold Van Ginkel go public this week with his side of how the H1N1 virus has shut down his operation at Rocky Mountain House.
Even though he and his family have personally done nothing wrong, I think it is important that the public see the real face of the industry – a young hard working couple, with six children – who were minding their own business when the disease found their farm. (Unfortunately the only other Canadian ‘hog farmer’ the public got to know by name is serving consecutive life sentences in a maximum security BC jail).
According to a story in the Calgary and Edmonton papers (see online at: http://www.calgaryherald.com) Van Ginkel says the only way out now is to cull his entire 2200 head herd, pay him compensation and let him start over. With his farm under quarantine, with every day that goes by he has market hogs getting fatter, with no place to go, and about 100 new piglets being born into the operation every week.
Even though market hogs are healthy, who wants them? Thanks to media hype, common sense over the potential health risk of this virus has long since disappeared.
It was interesting to note in the Van Ginkel story that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency abandoned him. What is that about? They moved in to quarantine his farm after the outbreak was first reported, but since then they won’t talk to him? They wont return his phone calls? Van Ginkel had to hire a lawyer to make contact with CFIA?
This is their (CFIA) business for God’s sake. You’d think they would have set up a tent at his gate to be available to manage “the crisis.”
The Van Ginkel family, supported by the Alberta Pork Producers, have done a courageous thing. I hope this issue soon passes and they can move on with their lives without being a truly unfortunate casualty of the Swine Flu.
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