Re: Ontario Bar Association hosts session on animal law; Ontario Farmer Feb. 25, 2014, p. A7
I was extremely pleased to see Kristen Kelderman of Farm & Food Care Ontario at the Ontario Bar Association’s annual Animal Law conference; which she wrote about and was published in the February 25, 2014 Ontario Farmer.
As pointed out by Ms. Kelderman, the debate presented by the OBA was shamefully imbalanced in favour of PETA-type activist views with no counter discussion representing the realities or merits of an efficient and affordable food system.
Sadly, it was not a total surprise. There are simply too few lawyers in practice with an agriculture or even rural background, and even fewer entering law school to practice in the future.
I hope Ontario’s farm organizations, commodity groups and marketing boards take special note of the last two paragraphs of Ms. Kelderman’s article – it is true that anti-farm animal activist groups are well-funded and well-represented in the legal community. Such groups have a war chest of resources specifically aimed at changing the law to suit their agendas, meanwhile individual farmers find themselves abandoned and fighting alone, often without access (financially or otherwise) to suitable representation.
To the best of my knowledge, Ontario’s farm organizations have taken no active steps to affect animal welfare law at the judicial level. I have seen no strategic litigation and, as far as I know, there is no funding directed at legal education (such as scholarships directed at students with farm backgrounds, or funding for agriculture-law student associations). I have personal experience with this deficiency, after being denied my local federation’s scholarship when I was accepted to law school – on misguided grounds that my education would not serve agriculture (despite my farm background and involvement in 4-H, Junior Farmers and the local federation).
I hope Ontario’s farm organizations take Ms. Kelderman’s report to heart, and recognize that the merits, practicality and affordability of Ontario’s current food system will not matter when the gavel strikes and normal farm practices are deemed illegal.