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Greener Pastures

Greener Pastures

  • Book Info
    Greener Pastures
    Book Description:

    This thoroughly researched and impressively thought-out study challenges many common assumptions about environmental regulation, and proposes fresh answers to grave environmental and political questions.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8439-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Andrew Stark

    Over the past few decades, Canadian farms have increased in size and intensity. As a result, agricultural pollution – especially the contamination of groundwater and surface water and the emission of noxious gases and other airborne contaminants – is now a contentious legal and political issue all across Canada. Environmentalists and provincial governments have typically responded by pushing for more centralized regulation. InGreener Pastures, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that such regulatory changes bring perverse results. They tend to exacerbate rather than curb pollution.

    For centuries, Brubaker explains, conflicts about farming were resolved by the parties directly involved, aided by common-law...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Canadaʹs Farmers: Salt of the Earth or Assaulting the Earth?
    (pp. 3-13)

    In May 2000, a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria contaminated the drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario, killing seven people and sickening more than 2,300. Scientists traced the bacteria to a small cattle farm in the community. They deduced that a heavy rainfall had washed the bacteria from manure spread on the farmerʹs fields and sent it, through cracks in the soil and bedrock, into the aquifer that fed one of the townʹs wells. The public inquiry into the tragedy found that the farmer had used provincially approved methods of spreading manure and could not be faulted.² Fault aside, cattle...

  6. 2 Severing the Gold from the Dross: Using the Common Law to Curb Unsustainable Farming Practices
    (pp. 14-31)

    Conflicts about farming are nothing new. For centuries, farmers and their neighbours have argued about livestock containment, manure storage and application, water management, and other practices affecting those living downwind or downstream of farms. Until recently, such conflicts were usually resolved by the parties directly involved – through discussion and negotiation or, when that failed, with the aid of the common-law courts. In pre-industrial England, where the common law developed, farmersʹ neighbours frequently called upon local courts to adjudicate disputes about straying cattle, odorous pigsties, and polluted streams. Drawing on local norms and values, early courts developed principles governing the...

  7. 3 Siding with the Farmer: The Evolution of the Right to Farm in Manitoba
    (pp. 32-44)

    In 1958, Michael and Carolyn Lisoway bought a twenty–acre property in Springfield, Manitoba, ten miles from downtown Winnipeg.² Three years later, Leo Clement and Aaga Christensen, doing business as Springfield Hog Ranch Ltd, purchased the adjacent property. The Lisoways fought plans for a large hog farm next door, but failed to prevent the issuance of a building permit. The following year, the farmers built a barn for 1,200 hogs. Five years later, they extended the barn to accommodate 2,000 hogs at a time – 4,000 over the course of a year. The farmers also constructed three large sewage lagoons...

  8. 4 Raising a Stink: The Legacy of Right-to-Farm Legislation in New Brunswick
    (pp. 45-56)

    Metz Farms 2 Ltd, an enormous piggery that operated for almost six years just outside Sainte-Marie-de-Kent near New Brunswickʹs eastern coast, was among Canadaʹs most controversial farms. It housed 10,000 hogs at one time – 30,000 over the course of a year – and produced 24 million litres of liquid manure in a year. Whether stored in the farmʹs 90–by-90 metre lagoon or sprayed on nearby fields, the manure smelled. Neighbours described the odours from the farm as ʹunbearableʹ and ʹtotally nauseating.ʹ Some complained of tearing eyes, sore throats, and weeping sores, others of being kept from their gardens....

  9. 5 A Mushrooming Problem: Agricultural Nuisances in Ontario
    (pp. 57-70)

    In July 2004, 150 residents of Ashburn, in Ontarioʹs Durham Region, filed a civil lawsuit against Greenwood Mushroom Farms (GMF), claiming that the stench from the farm created a nuisance. The same day, one resident also launched a private prosecution under the Ontario Provincial Offences Act, alleging that noxious odours from GMF violated the Environmental Protection Act. As well, the issue was in front of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board – a body established to resolve disputes over agricultural operations.

    The presentation of the same complaint to three different forums provides a glimpse into the tangle of laws and...

  10. 6 Beyond the Right to Farm: Changing Drainage and Planning Laws to Minimize Restraints on Farming
    (pp. 71-89)

    In March 2005, Elbert van Donkersgoed counselled farmers against endorsing stronger property rights. Then adviser to the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, long time advocate of the family farm, and author of a weekly column on agricultural issues, Mr Donkersgoed was alarmed by rural landownersʹ suggestions that private property rights should balance burgeoning government regulations. Stronger property rights, he warned, would not only limit farmersʹ freedom to cause discomfort from nuisance, dust, and odour but would also undermine the legislation that supports the creation of drainage systems. ʹEnshrined property rights,ʹ he explained, ʹwould make it much harder to create and...

  11. 7 Reversing the Trend: Decentralizing the Regulation of Agricultural Pollution
    (pp. 90-104)

    In the last three decades, all of Canadaʹs provinces have adopted some form of right-to-farm legislation. Manitoba led the way with its 1976 Nuisance Act. Quebec followed two years later with An Act to Preserve Agricultural Land. Newfoundland and Labrador was the last province to protect polluting farmers, proclaiming its Farm Practices Protection Act in 2003. Designed to sustain farmers and preserve farm land, all provincial right-to-farm laws shield farmers from legal liability for some of the environmental impacts of their operations. Manitobaʹs early legislation protected farms and other businesses from nuisance suits regarding odours. Quebec refined Manitobaʹs approach, protecting...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 105-144)
  13. Index
    (pp. 145-154)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 155-155)