November 24, 2010

for those about to revolt, we salute you.

It was between making a film or becoming a terrorist" Hugo Latulippe explains in his documentary: Bacon Le Film. Although the theme is that greed begets greed and the big only get bigger there was another message, more heartening and assuring; that by creating coalitions of the smaller, something much stronger is founded than the big multinational standing alone. In short, it is also a documentary of hope.

The issue? Mega pork farms which have been popping up everywhere in Québec. With the mirage of having to compete in a global market, but in the end, as so often, making a very few individuals very wealthy whose byproduct of pollution is out of control. And again who is paying to clean up the mess of these mega mono pork farms? Us. The citizen's taxes who pay. We subsidize the profits they pocket. Old hat. This by now is standard policy in North America. But not everyone accepts this with a shrug and defeatist libertarian's approach.

Enter Roméo Bouchard. Québec's José Bové, ex-farmer, writer, militant against the UPA monopoly, founder of Sauver les Campagne and co-founder of Union Paysanne. This is someone who understands the ridiculous nature of efficiency and profit driven business. "The world cannot support infinite growth." But this is exactly the image we are presented with by most leaders, multinational CEO's and rationalists. Absurd. This documentary is about that meeting point of the absurd logic behind mega farms and monocultures, and the real family farms and citizens of the countryside. We are taken through the strange world of pigs in cages no bigger than themselves so that they do not get too much exercise (food costs money), injections, no sex, no natural expression, live castrations, tail cuttings, under water pollution, abuse, government turned mafia (read Fast Food Nation). We are taken to the frontier where the mind of man thinks that it can turn the whole of nature into a laboratory, where the farm simply becomes another meat shop with no link to life, hostile to nature...the balance heavily upset.

Another issue is that the UPA, Union des Producteurs Agricoles, without forcing farmers to sign on as a member, nonetheless forces on each a payment annually varying between 300 and 600 dollars. Even if you refuse to pay on principle they dock it off your milk production, your meat, your land. More than 5000 farmers have been legally pursued by UPA for refusing to pay on the basis of principal. Québec is the only place in the western world to still maintain this sort of monopoly. Autonomy? This issue is so deep that I have yet to meet a farmer who has had anything good to say about the UPA. Stories I have heard included some subtle tactics and threats towards certain people concerning their future and the future of their kids. Shit, if that is not a mafia....

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