Manitoba hog industry considering expanding operations
Manitoba to expand hog industry?
By Marg Land
About 12 years ago, prompted by water quality concerns, the government of Manitoba, Canada, slapped a “temporary” ban on new swine barns. A few years later, that “temporary” ban became a moratorium on new barn construction in 35 municipalities throughout the province.
In 2011, restrictions on hog operations increased with the passing of new legislation requiring all new or expanding operations to construct an anaerobic digester to manage the hog manure. Four years later, those requirements eased – instead of a digester, farmers needed to construct a two-cell lagoon and meet new soil phosphorus regulations. Right.
Over this same time period, Manitoba experienced a shortage of slaughter pigs. Meat processers in the province were forced to source pigs from the U.S. and out-of-province, or lay-off staff to make ends meet.
“Companies like Maple Leaf … are running at 79 to 80 percent capacity, which limits them to be able to meet the market demand,” said Manitoba’s Agriculture Minister, Ralph Eichler, during a recent interview with FarmScape. “In 2004 and 2005, we were running about 10 million hogs per year. That number has dropped to about 7.4 million.”
Fast forward to today and the recent introduction of Manitoba’s Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficacy Act, aimed at reducing redundant legislation and prohibitive regulatory burdens. On the chopping block? The section of the province’s Environment Act prohibiting the construction or expansion of hog barns and manure storage facilities for hog operations across Manitoba.
This has been a long time coming for the province’s pork industry.
“The regulations, even if they are amended … will still be some of the most stringent manure management regulations in North America,” said Andrew Dickson, general manager of Manitoba Pork, to CBC News.
As an example, restrictions on winter manure spreading would continue in the province.
Interest in building new hog barns in Manitoba is increasing.
“We’re getting interest from all over, literally from eastern Manitoba right across to the western side of the province,” Mike Teillet, manager of sustainable development programs with Manitoba Pork, told FarmScape. “Right now, it’s slightly more on the expansion side but we’re also getting interest from new producers as well.”
Not everyone is happy with the proposed changes. Hog Watch Manitoba, an activist group that monitored the province’s swine industry in the late 1990s, has been resurrected after disbanding 10 years ago after the original moratorium was imposed. Members are concerned nutrient overload problems in area lakes could occur.
Maybe this group should turn its attention to the antiquated sewage system currently serving Manitoba’s capital city. Just Google “Winnipeg” and “sewage” and read all about the millions and millions of liters of raw sewage which have spilled into that province’s rivers in the past 10 years.
Forecasted cost to update Winnipeg’s sewers – more than $1 billion.
Annual hog-farm gate receipts in Manitoba – more than $1 billion.