Julaine Treur (left) and Johannes Treur (right) are dairy farmers at Agassiz’s Creekside Dairy. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Agassiz dairy farmer speaks out against pig protest

Hundreds of activists were at an Abbotsford hog farm Sunday in protest of alleged conditions

An Agassiz dairy farmer is reminding people to take a PETA video of an Abbotsford hog farm with a grain of salt, after activists stationed themselves on the pig farm property Sunday.

“I’ve never visited their farm, I’ve never entered their farm, and I don’t know all that much about hog farming,” Julaine Treur, of Agassiz’s Creekside Dairy, said about the Binnendyk family, which owns Excelsior Hog Farms in Abbotsford.

“The issue here is that the activists feel like they can invade private property and trespass on someone’s property — usually the farmers have their home there as well — and can dictate what happens.”

On Sunday (April 28), hundreds of activists arrived at Excelsior Hog Farms in Abbotsford to protest conditions at the farm.

The protest was based on a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) video, provided anonymously to the organization, which showed piglets nursing and feeding alongside the bodies of other piglets that are dying or in medical distress and adult pigs living in tight conditions. The video has also triggered an SPCA investigation, as well as a visit to the farm from a veterinarian.

RELATED: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

Treur said the video lacks context, a concern that echoes a release from BC Pork Producers Association director Chard Goertzen.

“The video was taken by a trespasser at night, it has been edited and lacks context and understanding, but some of the scenes are of concern,” the release reads.

Farmer Ray Binnendyk, owner of Excelsior Hog Farms and fellow BC Pork Producers Association director, told reporters at the scene that he didn’t believe some of the footage had been shot at his farm. Treur also said the veterinarian at the farm during the protest told people some shots were of the farm’s hospital pen, although this has not been confirmed.

She added that “it would be one thing if these groups were interested in improving standards” on farms, but said she felt they just wanted to “end all animal agriculture.”

The protest at Excelsior Hog Farms ended peacefully, with one person being arrested and 64 others given a promise to appear. Media were told they would be given a tour of the farm, although that became a negotiation with police and veterinary staff on hand.

RELATED: One person arrested at protest at Abbotsford pig farm

Although the protest ended peacefully, Treur said she’s concerned about the precedent it could set.

Creekside Dairy, an SPCA-certified farm, received a notice from the BC Dairy Association saying that another agricultural association had given them the heads up that protests were planned for a farm in the area. They didn’t know which farm the protest would be at, and for a few weeks were on high alert at their own farm.

“It was surprising, but they had had some issues in Ontario with this same sort of thing,” she said. “It’s been on the radar for the last few months or so, but it’s definitely new for our area.

These sort of activities aren’t necessarily common in this area, she said, and decided to post her thoughts about the Excelsior Hog Farm protest on Facebook because she was concerned it could happen to her family.

“We could wake up tomorrow morning and find 30 protesters camped out in our barn,” she said. “I think the time has come for farmers and actually everyone to say ‘enough is enough.’

“We don’t go and camp out in vegan’s backyards and starting throwing hamburgers and refuse to leave until they come and smell the hamburger,” she continued. “We have our animals best interests in mind. If we weren’t treating our animals well, they wouldn’t be producing well … and it’s more than that. It’s what we love to do. So we’re trying to do our best by them.

“It’s frustrating when activists try to portray it in another light, that we are cruel and inhumane and don’t care about our animals, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

-with files from Ben Lypka



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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