Awakening to the spirit and beauty of the northern Great Plains
Friday, October 22, 2010
A Feedlot for Outlook?
The Rural Municipality of Rudy, including the town of Outlook, Saskatchewan, has been considering a new 36,000 head of cattle feedlot, which if it goes through would be the largest in the province. As always, these intensive livestock factory issues divide the community into those who support the proposal (they see the jobs and the increased tax base), and those who do not want the pollution, traffic, smells and so on. The matter was to be decided last night (October 21, 2010) in a vote at a meeting of the R.M., but, just before the meeting began, a petition was presented to the Reeve and councillors, calling for a referendum. In response, council gave its administrator a month to determine if there are enough signatures to force a public vote.
The good people of Outlook and area have a month’s breathing room now, in which they can ask themselves some important questions:
1. Is this really a “Not in my backyard” issue or is this a matter of saying “no, feedlot beef is not good anywhere”? There are other ways to raise beef--and all of them are much healthier for people and ecosystems. This province not that long ago was able to raise beef without intensive feedlot operations and the threats to human health, drinking water, human health and the environment that they pose. Saskatchewan people who think about these things are switching to grass-finished beef either from local producers or from outfits such as Westbridgeford Meats in Tugaske.
2. Is the possibility of 36 jobs (that is what the corporation proposing the feedlot projects) and some tax revenue a fair trade for all that will be lost to the beauty and wellbeing of your land and waterways in the Outlook area? Would you allow a toxic waste dump in your RM simply because it would be good for the economy? [Note: a reader, "localfarm" sent a comment advising me that in fact there will be "no additional tax revenue from this feedlot as it is a family farm & will pay no more tax than what it they are already paying." This reader also pointed out that Saskatchewan taxpayers will be on the hook for this boondoggle. The provincial government is promising to build a primary highway to serve the feedlot and to fund any infrastructure costs the Rural Municipality incurs because of the increased traffic, etc.]
3. Do you want to raise your tax base and create jobs in an industry that needlessly breeds E. Coli (incidence in Saskatchewan feedlots is as high as 57%; E. Coli only happens when you feed cattle grain), that has a strong chance of polluting the drinking water of downstream communities dependant on the M1 canal? [A reader, "localfarm," points out that the proposed feedlot would be 500 metres from the canal and four miles uphill from the South Sask. River.] Take a look at this map provided on the ratepayers' website devoted to this issue:
4. Do you really want to entrust the public commons of air, land and water quality you share as people of the RM of Rudy to a factory-farm owner from Alberta who has come with his proposal simply because he has no more room at home and Saskatchewan has cheaper land and no one really protecting the water? The people who settled the RM of Rudy were farmers, but this man is an industrialist and a businessman.
Standing next to cattle in a photograph doesn’t make you a farmer.