Montana Jones Heritage Breeds Farmer
Rebel shepherd Montana Jones has been charged with numerous criminal offences, including conspiracy, breach of quarantine and disobeying a regulatory order. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in jail and fines of $1.5 million.
As a Farmed and Dangerous “AGtivist” for heirloom seeds and heritage breeds, her crime may be her dedication to preserving agricultural biodiversity. She raises endangered heritage livestock such as Shropshire sheep at her Wholearth Farmstudio in Northumberland County, Ontario. Shrops were once Canada’s most popular breed due to their high productivity, hardiness, and ability to thrive on grass, but became progressively more rare. Despite their scarce valuable genetics, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have adopted policies that will severely reduce genetic biodiversity in farm animals, increasing the risk that a single epidemic could decimate Canada’s livestock. In fact, the CFIA have recently killed over 100 healthy Shropshires, and there are now fewer than that number in this country.
Montana’s own flock of rare genetics were ordered destroyed by CFIA on suspicion that her sheep might have scrapie, despite the fact that her flock had never shown any signs or symptoms of the disease. On the morning of the scheduled slaughter, the CFIA arrived to find that the sheep were gone. The CFIA and Ontario Provincial Police mounted a massive search for the sheep, conducting searches throughout rural Ontario and employing helicopters for aerial surveillance.
About 9 weeks after the sheep’s disappearance, they were found 200 miles away from Montana’s farm. The CFIA seized, killed and tested all the sheep, including numerous lambs that had been born to them during their absence. All were negative for scrapie. Charges were subsequently laid on Montana, as well as Suzanne Atkinson, Robert Pinnell and Michael Schmidt.
Montana and Michael’s date for trial is expected to be set for this year. LifeStock Food & Farm Festival 2016 is a fundraiser to help raise the estimated $150,000 in legal expenses we need for hopefully the final, but certainly the most important leg of our 6 year chapter. The criminal trial. We need to hold on to Canadian Constition Foundation and our counsel, the inimitable Shawn Buckley, to stand for us the rest of the way. Without him, our risk of an unfair outcome…as in prison. As crazy as that seems for wanting to preserve heritage livestock genetics.
Montana is also a watcher of whales, saver of turtles and writes about travel, food and farming. She is a recipient of the CBC Literary Award,Ontario Arts Council Writer’s Reserve Grant, with work appearing in EnRoute, Mind’s Eye, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Canadian Women Studies Literary Journal, Watershed Magazine, Edible Toronto and various other publications.
View Montana Jones’ website.