Farmer battles bureaucracy with extreme measures
Published Friday, November 30, 2012 5:25PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 30, 2012 5:31PM EST
A sheep farmer in South Stormont is confident he’ll be able to claim victory after taking extreme measures to save his business from closing under the weight of red tape and rules.
Josef Regli was on a hunger strike for a week after bureaucratic measures imposed by his local council.
The farmer, originally from Switzerland, says he attempted a small expansion when demand for the cheese he produces started to grow.
Regli admits his mistake was not seeking a permit; but says once he tried to correct it with the municipality, administrators wanted to treat him like a major cheese producer instead of the tiny farmer he says he is. It meant costs and rules he simply wouldn’t be able to afford.
“We had been operating legally and licensed by Health Canada since 2008 and out of nowhere – because of a little tiny addition – it got severe,” said Regli.
After losing half his flock to the drought this year, Regli says the bureaucratic blowback was too much. He went on a hunger strike.
“77 per cent of all cheese in Canada comes from four huge mega-corporations,” said beef and pork farmer Dave Smith who added Regli can't manage regulations designed to support large-scale operations.
Even then, it wasn’t the hunger strike that caught the attention of the municipality but rather an outpouring of anger and support from customer and friends.
“I’m a dairy farmer myself. I understand Regli’s problem and why I’m here today,” said South Stormont’s deputy mayor Tammy Hart.
Municipal leaders met with Regli to see how to resolve the issue on Tuesday. Talks will continue until both sides can reach an agreement.
With files from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr