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Alberta farmers use social media to lobby against farm safety bill

Form Facebook group to protest Alberta NDP's farm safety bill

There is growing pushback in rural Alberta against the NDP government's plan to include farm and ranch workers in safety and workplace legislation.

A group called Farmers Against NDP Bill 6 has appeared on Facebook with more than 22,000 members.

Organizer Sara Wheale says the government's plan to cover farm workers under occupational health and safety laws and workers' compensation would kill family farms.

Wheale, who lives near the village of Breton southwest of Edmonton, says the province is ignoring their concerns.

Opponents of the legislation are planning a rally at the Alberta legislature on Friday.

Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada without coverage for farm and ranch workers.

"I created this group for everyone to share and get around to show how many people really are against this new Bill 6,'' Wheale writes on the Facebook page.

"This is our lives and what we live for. Let's take a stand.''

READ: Alberta farmers want workplace rules done right

The government's proposal would allow investigators to review serious injuries or deaths on the commercial portion of farms.

Officials say 25 people died from farm-related accidents in 2014 — nine more than the previous year.

The government is holding information sessions to help explain the legislation.

Agriculture organizations say they support improving farm safety, but have misgivings about how the new rules would work and how they might affect the bottom line of agriculture.

The Facebook page features the names, comments and photographs of farmers who oppose the legislation. Some of the posts contain profanity and pictures of people making rude gestures.

Sarah Neill included photos of her and her horses.

"Alberta was built on farming. Without farming we would have nothing. Our grocery stores would be empty. Our lives would be changed,'' Neill writes.

"We as farmers and ranchers should decide our own hours and our own work ethic.''

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