Ottawa could pay several million dollars to the Laurentian farm on which a first case of mad deer disease was detected in Quebec last month.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) pays compensation when it orders the slaughter of a farm because a disease has been detected there.
For a deer, this check can be up to $8,000 per animal, according to the Regulation on Compensation for the Destruction of Animals.
“As soon as we order the destruction, we pay the market value of the animal. If the carcass is worth $1,000 and the breeder sold it for $500, the feds will pay $500, the difference,” says the CFIA veterinarian who manages the chronic wasting disease (CWD) outbreak in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, El Mehdi Haddou.
In other words, all the healthy animals culled can be sold, but if the breeder has to sell his meat at a discount to liquidate it, or if he is unable to sell it, Ottawa will compensate.
“It is certain that the breeder will not win out of this”, breathes another deer breeder who requested anonymity and who is working to reassure his customers so that the market does not collapse.
She says a deer carcass is currently worth between $1,200 and $1,500, depending on the animal’s weight. The 3,000 deer from Harpur Farms in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge would therefore be worth between 3.8 and 4.5 M$ together.
But Harpur Farms should be paying for this crisis, not taxpayers, says biologist Darrel Rowledge of the Alliance for Public Wildlife in Calgary.
“Industry must pay according to the polluter pays principle. They are not paying any of this at the moment, on the contrary, we are subsidizing them”, she denounces.
Rowledge blames the livestock industry for the outbreak, which has now spread to 23 US states and three Canadian provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec. He emphasizes that CWD was born on farms, not in the wild.
But the Dr Haddou indicates that CFIA regulations do not provide for sanctions. The federal government is not alone in compensating farmers affected by prion disease: France, for example, offers similar assistance in case of mad cow disease.
Representatives for Harpur Farms declined to respond to the Recorddespite numerous messages and several visits to his office in Old Montreal.
The treasurer of a small nation’s meat slaughterhouse, which is also owned by the Harpur family, Douglas Harpur, let his wife send us away while he took refuge in another room during our visit to his home.
In the company’s president, Sara Lydia Mautt, the occupants of the house refused to receive The newspaper and they closed the curtains after we mentioned the purpose of our visit.
– With Stéphane Sinclair, special collaboration, and Camille Garnier
What is this disease?
- Mad deer disease is an incurable disease similar to mad cow.
- Results in progressive degenerative disorders
- Due to the transformation of a protein into an altered form, called a prion
- Prions are spread in feces, body fluids, and by direct contact.
Breeding deer should be banned, experts say
Experts recommend banning deer farms to prevent the chronic disease from destroying wildlife.
“It’s a man-made epidemic that affects the entire ecosystem and the hunting industry, the entire economy that depends on wildlife pays for it,” laments biologist Darrel Rowledge, director of the Alliance for Public Wildlife.
His Calgary-based organization convinced the state of Montana to abolish deer farming in 1998, following the first case of mad deer disease on a farm. Since the closure of the farms, the disease has never been detected in this Midwestern state in the United States.
Two years earlier, in 1996, the first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected on a Canadian farm in Saskatchewan. Four years later, the disease struck wild deer in the same province. It now extends to the neighboring province of Alberta and has just entered Quebec.
There are 650 deer farms in Canada, including 121 in Quebec, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Like Rowledge, Barry Rothfuss of the Atlantic Wildlife Institute in New Brunswick has a negative view of the industry.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Natural Resources, he states that this practice is considered responsible “for introducing new diseases in wildlife”.
“Livestock generates income for those who do it. This is not a good enough reason to take the risks we are taking from an environmental and ecological point of view,” he told the outlet. The Monton Times.
However, the state of New York, one of the few American states that managed to stop the spread of the disease after an initial case on a farm, did not ban agriculture.
Instead, New York has adopted a strict policy to control the movement of animals and pathogens. This policy prohibits, among other things, the importation of captive deer within state borders or the release of a captive animal into the wild.
Quebec also requested the help of experts in New York to manage the outbreak of the disease in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.