Tue, 07/25/2017 - 00:43

Posted by Belinda Alzner on December 07, 2012

 

Better Farming magazine reports that a farm reporter is among four people facing criminal charges after a Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigation into the removal of 31 sheep from a federally quarantined farm in April 2012. Linda Frances Jones, Michael Schmidt, Robert Pinnell and Suzanne Atkinson all face numerous charges pertaining to obstruction of a CFIA inspector and transporting quarantined animals.

Jones, who owned the farm from which the sheep were allegedly unlawfully removed, is facing an additional charge of obstructing a CFIA inspector under the Health of Animals Act. Pinnell also faces additional charges. Schmidt is a raw milk activist whose selling of raw, unpasteurized milk has found him in an unrelated legal battle.

Atkinson had covered the story of the missing sheep for Ontario Farmer. She declined a Better Farming interview about the charges and her editor and publisher at Ontario Farmer told Better Farming that he had no knowledge of the charges against Atkinson.

Jones’ farm had been placed under quarantine more than two years ago after two cases of scrapie, a fatal neurological disease of sheep and goats, were found. One case was confirmed in a sheep that had recently died on the farm, and a second sheep had also tested positive, the Toronto Star reported back in August.

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According to the CFIA, the agency orders all sheep or goats 12 months of age or younger that may have been exposed to a birthing environment infected by scrapie to be euthanized. All adult sheep or goats that are, after a blood test, deemed to be high-risk for scrapie are also destroyed. (The agency says there is a genetic makeup that is more at risk of developing scrapie.) Properties are also strictly quarantined and no animals may enter or leave the property. Other animal products – except manure – can be taken on and off the farm with CFIA approval.

Better Farming reports that when the CFIA arrived at Jones’ property on April 2, the sheep that the agency had come for were not there. In June, the OPP found 26 of the sheep on a Bruce County farm. All of the sheep were euthanized. None tested positive for scrapie.

According to the CFIA release, all four of the alleged are charged with:

  • obstructing a CFIA inspector, contrary to subsection 35(1) of the Health of Animals Act;
  • conspiracy to commit obstruction of a CFIA inspector, contrary to paragraph 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code;
  • transport or causing to transport an animal under quarantine, contrary to subsection 91.4(5) of the Health of Animals Regulations;
  • conspiracy to transport or causing to transport an animal under quarantine, contrary to paragraph 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code; and,
  • conspiracy to defraud the public of a service over $5,000, contrary to paragraph 465 (1)(c) of the Criminal Code.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Better Farming reports that all of the accused had been requested to turn themselves in to police by Dec. 6, and to appear in court on Jan. 23.

Jones told Better Farming there was no truth to the charges.

J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.