|"When an activity raises
threats of harm to human health or the environment,
precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and
effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the
public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread
Statement of the Precautionary Principle.
Barns Moratorium, Water Protection Review
We are forwarding
Manitoba Wildlands recent news item it is available online at:
17 November 06
Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers has ordered a 'temporary
pause' on new or expanded hog barns in the province to allow the Clean
Environment Commission (CEC) to conduct a public review of the Manitoba's
'Water Protection Plan', and to fulfill a recommendation to review the hog
No announcement has been made as to whether the CEC hearing for the
proposed OlyWest Hog Processing Plant in Winnipeg will proceed as planned.
Manitoba Conservation also announced the third phase of its 'Water
Protection Plan'. To alleviate confusion associated with announcing a new
plan already in its third phase, the press release contained a
backgrounder to describe actions attributable to the first and second
phases. Manitoba's Water Protection Plan was never referred to publicly
before November 8, 2006.
The 'Water Protection Plan' is also part of the review by the CEC. The
Terms of Reference for the CEC review of the hog industry are available on
the CEC web site. No report or Terms of Reference have been released for
the 'Water Protection Plan' review.
Gaile Whelan Enns, director of Manitoba Wildlands, indicated, "We
need a pause in the OlyWest review and CEC hearings too. It is unfortunate
the Minister did not put a scientific and environmental basis to the
review of the hog industry. The limited terms of reference assume the
outcome. We need real hearings with intervener funding."
View three November 8, 2006 Manitoba Government press releases:
Visit Manitoba Conservation's Environmental Livestock Program
View the Minister of Conservation's Terms of Reference for the CEC
View the Proposed Amendments to the Livestock Manure & Mortalities
Management Regulation (PDF):
View the November 10, 2006 Winnipeg Free Press article (DOC)
View the November 14, 2006 CBC article
Source: Government of Manitoba
Government Playing Parlor Tricks?
November 15, 2006
Editor, Brandon Sun
I read with interest your recent editorial [“The dead hand
strikes again” Sun, November 10, 2006) chastising the Doer
Government for imposing a ‘moratorium’ on hog barn expansion,
pending a “review” of the industry by the Clean Environment
One need only examine the fine print in Minister Struthers’
announcements to see that your criticism is misplaced.
On the one hand, as Struthers confirmed in an interview broadcast
on CBC radio on November 9, the “moratorium” does not apply to
the 17 or so hog barn proposals currently “in process.”
Objectively, this means that these proposals will go forward to
construction (and operation), as soon as they complete the
approval process. By contrast, a bona fide ‘moratorium’ would
involve the suspension of approval processes, pending the outcome
of the CEC review.
On the other hand, inspection of the terms of reference issued to
the CEC in this matter clearly shows that the government has
absolutely no intention of seriously examining the environmental
sustainability of Manitoba’s hog industry. In particular, the
CEC will not be holding public hearings as part of its review.
Instead, it will hold “public meetings.”
Public hearings, such as the one conducted by the CEC in relation
to the Maple Leaf expansion, are governed by the Manitoba Evidence
Act. Among other things, this involves sworn testimony,
cross-examination, evidence elicited from experts as well as the
public at large, and so on. The CEC assesses this evidence and
then issues recommendations based on that assessment.
Public meetings, by contrast, have none of these requirements.
Indeed, my experience has been that such meetings are little more
than cheerleading sessions for the particular special interest
group (here, the pork industry) with the most resources.
Consequently, spectacular and unverified claims, rather than
assessed evidence, become the basis of recommendations that emerge
from this process.
Is it any wonder that Mr. Kynoch, Chair of the Manitoba Pork
Council, has stated that the CEC review will vindicate the
industry’s environmental record?
In closing, I would simply note that the most charitable
interpretation of the Doer Government’s action here is that it
represents nothing more than a political parlor trick, a cynical
slight of hand which is explicitly designed to defuse the Hog
issue until after the upcoming Spring election.
RR1 Alexander, Manitoba ROK OAO (204 – 328-5385)
Applauds Manitoba Government Withdrawal of Bill 40
November 3, 2004
RIVER, MB –
The Government of Manitoba has “done the right thing” by withdrawing
Bill 40, says Ken Sigurdson, Manitoba Coordinator of the National Farmers
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Scott Smith announced today the
provincial government had decided “not to proceed with Bill 40.”
Sigurdson said he is very encouraged by the move, noting it is clear the
government “was listening to the people of
NFU, along with many other organizations, has spoken out against provisions
in the legislation which limited the right of rural municipalities to
regulate intensive livestock operations. “Public pressure played a role in
this decision,” stated Sigurdson. “This legislation really didn’t
please anybody, and I believe the government members, over the course of the
debate, gained a clearer understanding of the far-reaching negative
implications of this legislation.”
said people appreciate the fact that the democratic process is working in
and that the government appears willing to listen to people’s legitimate
concerns. “We’re hoping this sets a trend for the future,” he said.
“We’re very prepared to work with the government to address important
environmental issues, as well as the serious financial problems facing
family farmers in this province.”
Back to top
article "Hog barn will be built near Oakburn"
July 3, 2004
This message is in response to the Brandon Sun article
"Hog barn will be built near Oakburn" dated October 31, 2003:
Are you aware that our group (Wolfe Creek
Conservation Group) currently has a suit pending in court relating to
errors made by the municipality prior to the hearing last fall?
Our group pointed this out to them, however they chose
to ignore and simply stated that they did everything that
had to be done according to the Planning Act. According to the
Planning Act, persons with property within two kilometers of the
proposed site are to be notified by mail of the hearing - several
people did not receive these notices. Apparently nothing is
really going to happen until the end of the month - I do believe that
counsel for the municipality will respond at that time. I thought
that perhaps a newsletter of some sort should be prepared to all the
taxpayers within the Strathclair municipality to remind them that they
will essentially be paying the municipality's lawyer's fees to fight
themselves - does this make any sense?
As far as Bill 40 goes, I am afraid that this is
going to be bulldozed right through to once again accommodate the hog
Here's an interesting tidbit - Premium Pork is now
operating under the name Genetiporc. I assume Genetiporc operated
under the umbrella of Premium Pork or vice versa. I believe
Genetiporc originated in Quebec. These guys sure know
how to protect themselves. Anyway, I thought you should be
aware of this. I'm not sure what's become of Premium Pork.
Les and Cheryl
Back to top
Wild: Manitoba's Reckless Agriventure
||The Price of Pork
Manitoba has joined the gold rush to mass produce cheap pork with
hundreds of mega hog barns and a meatpacking monopoly. The
Aquarian examines the real cost of our billion dollar export
industry for farmers, rural communities, animals and the
you’re interested in getting into big-time corporate hog production,
don’t go to North Carolina. Don’t go to Quebec either, or Taiwan or
Iowa or the Netherlands. But should you come to friendly Manitoba,
you’re in luck.
is No Cheap Pork
on this bottom line alone, there is little doubt that the most efficient
way to produce pork chops, ham and bacon is in a factory-style mega hog
barn. But things are not so clear-cut when you factor in all the costs,
including the long-term social and environmental costs.
Manitoba Must "Quit Stalling"
believe that the root of all these problems, and specifically the hog
industry’s, is the close confinement of hundreds, and sometimes
thousands, of animals in completely unnatural settings in a very small
space under one roof.
to Bill 40 Take Away Local Input
Letter to the Editor
March 22, 2004
Farmers and rural communities are in
a real crisis. The Manitoba government has promoted PMU, Elk, Buffalo,
encouraged and financed the expansion of beef and factory hog barns in this
province. Many farmers in these ventures are near financial ruin. The
Manitoba government does nothing to address these problems they have
In fact the only legislation they are
putting forward is Bill 40, changes to the Planning Act. This draconian
legislation is designed to take away local people’s say over the
establishment of large factory hog barns in this province. With the low
price of hogs and proposed countervail action by the US, family hog farms
will be wiped out.
Are more corporate hog barns and more
production the solution to low prices and the US countervail action? As the
former Premier of Saskatchewan Grant Devine used to say, “you don’t say
‘whoa’ in the middle of a mud hole”. The Manitoba government is
following this type of logic; they want to build an even deeper and wider
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister
Mihychuk describes those opposed to this legislation as anti- farming. This
corporate model being set up is and will be owned or controlled by Maple
Leaf Foods. How can the NDP government of Manitoba hide behind the terms
“farmer and farming” and set up these systems that wipe out family
farms? Recently, US presidential candidate John Kerry meeting with Iowa
family farmers, environmentalists, and residents, proclaimed, “The
corporatization of farming in Iowa is destroying the ability of family
farmers to survive”. Clearly Mrs. Mihychuk and today’s NDP are probably
close to the views of republican’s George Bush and Dick Cheney in their
disdain for the environment and family farms. Manitoba is becoming the Texas
of the north.
And where is Agriculture Minister
Wowchuk when this legislation is being introduced and farmers are in these
dire straits? She is in Mexico. Do we have farmers in Mexico? Apparently,
when you don’t know what to do, you circle the globe.
appears the major objective of these proposed changes to the Planning Act is
to extract revenge against certain RM councils and the communities.
Clause 30 (4) of this proposed
legislation gives the minister the power to “approve of or reject any
by-law”. The Minister has the final say and can reject local by-laws that
place conditions or restrictions on factory hog barns.
Clause 59.5 (3) states the RM can
place no conditions on “the storage, application or use of manure”.
RM’s that have by-laws requiring above ground manure storage will have
those by-laws revoked. The over-application of phosphorous through manure is
a major problem with these factory hog barns. The Animal Stewardship
Committee recognized this and recommended that manure be applied on the
basis of Phosphate content. This recommendation was never adopted.
Manitoba is not prepared to regulate the application of manure and
they cynically propose to stop the RM’s from regulating manure
Technical reviews of hog projects
conducted by staff of the Agriculture department have been a very shaudy
process. At Conditional Use hearings, citizens have pointed out many flaws
in proposals that the technical review committee already approved. Under the
proposed legislation, the RM cannot say no to a flawed proposal approved by
the technical review committee. All the RM council can do is order covers on
lagoons or order the planting of trees. By the removal of the Conditional
Use process and hearings, the government of Manitoba is taking away the
rights of RM councils to say no to factory hog barns.
The proposed changes to the Planning
Act would destroy the ability of local people to make democratic decisions
about their community. As the Regional Coordinator of the NFU in Manitoba, I
am promising this government one hell of a fight should they proceed with
Sincerely Kenneth Sigurdson
Regional Coordinator National Farmers Union
Back to top
Eco-Network Member Groups
North American affiliate of the Taiga Rescue Network
2-70 Albert Street
MB R3B 1E7
Fax: (204) 947-3076
FOR PESTICIDE REDUCTION! WPG
campaign for a pesticide bylaw banning the cosmetic use of pesticides.
#2 - 70 Albert Street
MB R3B 1E7
and advocacy for the protection of nature.
- 63 Albert Street
MB R3B 1G4
Gaile Whelan-Enns, Manitoba Director, Wildlands Campaign
PARKS AND WILDERNESS SOCIETY (CPAWS)
in advocacy, protection and public education for
parks and wilderness in Manitoba.
MB R3C 2H6
3B - 70 Albert St.
Beth McKechnie (Executive Director)
education around alternatives to harmful chemicals in
MB R3T 3C9
NORTHERN STUDIES CENTRE
and education on subarctic ecology.
MB R0B 0E0
TO SAVE THE ELMS
public education around the importance of protection of
our urban forest.
MB R3T 4V7
FOR CHURCH IN SOCIETY (CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH)
to establishing and nurturing refugees placed in our community.
MB R2X 1N3
CITIZENS OF THE R.M. OF PINEY
more environmentally sound livestock operation methods and alternatives to
earthen manure lagoons.
MB R0A 1B0
RESIDENTS OF WINNIPEG (CROW)
MB R3G 0Z7
ASSOCIATION OF CANADA - MB CHAPTER
Osborne St. S.
MB R3L 1Z3
(204) 452-2572 or 1-888-596-0900
FOR RESPONSIBLE ENERGY (CoRE)
c/o 952 Dorchester Ave.
MB R3M 0R9
ECO-MALES AND FEMALES IN ACTION
of Winnipeg students’ group focused on environmental and social justice
MB R3B 2E9
for education on wildlife and related issues.
MB R3P 2K9
neighbourhood-based organization working for greening and revitalization in
MB R3C 0X3
MB R3B 1E7
MEDIA CENTRE - WPG (IMC-Wpg)
OF URBAN STUDIES
MB R3C 0C3
EROSION CONTROL ASSOCIATION -
PRAIRIE CHAPTER (IECA-NP)
Winnipeg, MB R3T 3Y5
Contact: Mark Myrowich
Lindy Clubb (204) 475-9608
Line: (204) 478-1322
INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Portage Avenue East, Sixth Floor
MB R3B 0Y4
LUTLEY BOREAL ENVIRONMENTAL YOUTH CENTRE
include Conservation Caravan, Composting, Tree Planting and Recycling
MB R8N 1N2
awareness and conservation of natural areas, specifically tall grass
prairie, through environmental education.
MB R3J 3S4
Lise Smith, Education Coordinator
FEDERATION OF LABOUR
Committee of Manitoba labour groups.
- 275 Broadway
MB R3C 4M6
awareness, appreciation and protection of the natural
- 63 Albert Street
MB R3B 1G4
OZONE PROTECTION INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION (MOPIA)
MB R2G 1P8
PROTECTED AREAS SOCIETY
- 63 Albert Street
MB R3B 1G4
WILDLIFE REHABILITATION ORGANIZATION
MB R0G 0S0
Paul Clarke, Executive Director
Fax: (204) 883-2258
MB R7A 6Y9
Clubb (204) 475-9608
ORCHID CONSERVATION INC.
Winnipeg, MB R2M 0C8
Peggy Bainard Acheson
Phone: (204) 231-1160
Interpretive Centre is dedicated to fostering public awareness and knowledge
of the inherent values of wetland ecosystems.
MB R0C 2Z0
FOOD COUNCIL OF MANITOBA
for organic farmers and the organic certification process in Manitoba
14 Grp 6 RR1
MB R0A 0J0
VALLEY CONSERVATION DISTRICT
and water conservation in the Pembina Valley.
MB R0G 1G0
for peace through disarmament and education.
RIVER BASIN COMMISSION
- 283 Bannatyne Ave.
MB R3B 3B2
centre for applied sustainability offering practical solutions for everyday
- 70 Albert Street
MB R3B 1E7
CREEK WATERSHED ASSOCIATION
to promote preservation of and public interest in, the natural habitat and
wildlife of the local area.
MB R0G 1V0
Ted Ross, President
OUR SEINE ENVIRONMENT INC.
protection and recreational development for the Seine River.
83, 208 Provencher Blvd.
MB R2H 3B4
PLANNING COUNCIL OF WINNIPEG
MB R3A 0A9
Society of Manitoba
to the exploration, study and conservation of the physical and biological
features of caves and surrounding karst landscapes in Manitoba.
MB R3R 0R3
Jack Dubois, President
TO RESPECT EARTH’S ECOSYSTEMS (TREE)
for a sustainable forest agenda in Manitoba.
MB R3T 0J5
OF MANITOBA FACULTY OF ENVIRONMENT
MB R3T 2N2
OF MANITOBA RECYCLING AND ENVIRONMENT GROUP
campus student activity
42, University Centre
MB R3T 2N2
OF WINNIPEG ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
interdisciplinary program of study is aimed at educating students in a
holistic approach to their environment. Following the general principles of
sustainability, the program provides an integrated approach to understanding
the environment, acknowledging human impact, and providing a framework to
develop future solutions to environmental problems.
MB R3B 2E9
NATIONS ASSOCIATION IN CANADA (Winnipeg Branch)
for, and evaluation of, United Nations’ programs locally.
MB R2V 0N3
to working with people to revive
and protect watersheds, lakes and rivers.
MB R3E 2C5
CANADA WILDERNESS COMMITTEE
for the preservation of wilderness through research and education.
- 70 Albert Street
MB R3B 1E7
protect animals from suffering and to promote their welfare and dignity.
MB R2L 1X3
MB R3C 4M6
education on the health, environmental and animal welfare benefits of a
MB R3C 4B3
Back to top
to the Editor
Thu, Nov 2, 2000
Water Quality Fell After Hog Barns Opened
My wife and I own a small farm in southeastern Manitoba. In 1982, to ensure
ourselves of a viable water supply, we had a deep well drilled on our farm.
At the time, the well-drilling contractor told us we would never have to
worry about having an abundance of good quality water. He was right. We had
the water tested and, apart from an elevated iron content and a bit more
than desirable hardness, the water was of excellent quality.
In 1993 we had the water from this well tested again. The results were
the same; essentially excellent quality water.
In September 2000, we had our water tested because of concerns arising
from other tests in the area.
The results this time, according to Manitoba Water Services standards --
unsafe for drinking. The total coliform content had escalated to 13 times
the provincial standard for safe drinking water. Our formerly near-perfect
water supply is now contaminated.
Between the last test and this most recent one, nine hog barns have
commenced operations within a two-mile radius of our farm. The air quality
on some days could best be described as unbearable. Now we are also left
wondering if the contamination of our excellent water source is somehow
connected to these large manure-generating operations.
Back to top
Farms Take Beating in Documents
Thursday, March 21st, 2002
By Leah Janzen
Large hog operations are polluting the air and water and are causing
serious health problems in farmers, according to federal government
documents released this week.
The reports surfaced just days before the unveiling of a new 2,500 hog
farm slated to open near Hamiota this weekend.
The Agriculture Canada reports -- obtained through a freedom of
information request by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper and confirmed by the
Free Press -- were written between 1997 and 2000.
They say hog farms around the country have saturated soils and streams
with chemicals from manure. And the concentrated manure fumes have caused
asthma, bronchitis, depression and other health problems in the people who
work at the hog farms.
Where farmland lies close to cities, ammonia fumes from the hog manure
can combine with industrial pollutants and car exhaust to make dangerous
acidic compounds, the documents note.
University of Brandon biology professor Dr. Bill Paton said the reports
substantiate concerns he's had for years.
"It's all the same information I've been trying to get the province
to look at," he said yesterday. "People think the government is
looking after them and we're finding out they're not."
Provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said her department has
requested a copy of the reports.
She said she'll review the information and determine whether it is
something that warrants further consideration.
Fred Tait, a spokesman for Hogwatch Manitoba, said the reports have
become public too late.
"I'm furious about this," he said. "We could have avoided
these problems if we used this information before we welcomed the industry
into the province. Now what do we do? The damage is already
Back to top
to the Editor
To the Editor:
As one who has recently retired from
farming, I lament the polarization and animosity that has developed in
rural Manitoba over the expanding hog industry.
I fear that articles such as the May 1 editorial, “Hog money is
good” can only serve to add fuel to the fire.
I find the editorial troubling for several
reasons. First of all, the
author appears to build his case on the dubious assumptions that the hog
industry is a primary factor in driving up land prices and that higher
land prices are good for everyone. Secondly,
the author resorts to insulting those who take an opposing position.
They are referred to as “people with limited visions and
councillors who oppose the expansion of the hog industry are referred to
as “less business-minded councillors”; those who support the industry
as “smart R.M. councillors”. Thirdly,
he judges the motives of those who oppose the indiscriminate expansion of
the industry, suggesting that they must be driven by jealousy.
The most troubling feature of the
editorial, however, is the apparent underlying assumption that if it can
be demonstrated that the industry contributes to the building of wealth,
then no other factors need to be considered.
To overlook the contribution of the hog industry to the provincial
economy would be a mistake. However,
to allow economic considerations to completely override ecological
concerns doesn’t make sense either.
To accuse people of jealousy when they oppose construction of large
hog barns near their place of residence is to add insult to injury.
The negative effects on the quality of life of people residing near
large hog barns as well as the possibility of hog barns and slaughtering
facilities negatively impacting surface and groundwater quality should not
Although dialogue and debate can be useful,
it can also be destructive and damaging.
The May 1 editorial strikes me as being totally one-sided and
consequently can only contribute to polarization.
There was a time when I expected more from the editorial page of
the Manitoba Co-operator.
Norman L. Braun
Back to top
Livestock Operations not 'Normal'
Winnipeg Free Press
June 13, 2003
Re: Joe Dolecki's letter NDP government backs hog operations (Free
Press, June 4). I am part of a group of 500-plus citizens who have
signed a petition opposed to a proposed intensive livestock operation to be
located in the eastern region of Manitoba in the RM of Whitemouth.
Our community is just beginning the grassroots process outlined by Dolecki
in his article. We, too, are wondering if the council will make the right
decision based on the democratic concerns of the overwhelming majority of
the community and not on the strong-arm or scare tactics of the proponents,
the industry or the government.
What constitutes normal farming practices? Manitoba has used this
questionable designation to enact legislation and guidelines such as the
Farm Practices Protection Act and the Farm Practices Guidelines for Hog
Producers in Manitoba, which have entrenched dubious farming practices in
the form of intensive livestock operations, taken away the rights of other
landowners, and put the health of people and the environment at risk, all
under the guise of protecting farmlands and "normal" farming
But can an intensive livestock operation be termed a "normal"
farming operation? Many farmers -- and I am one of them -- don't think so.
It is notable that while we farmers make up less than three per cent of the
population of Manitoba, farm operations accounted for almost 40 per cent of
all infractions under the Environment Act last year. Many of those
infractions came from intensive livestock operations, which make up only a
fraction of the farmers in Manitoba.
As a farmer who raises 100 head of swine a year as part of my operation, I
resent having those animal factories classified as a "normal"
farming operation and impinging upon the reputation of responsible farmers.
In our local situation, farmers and other landowners have signed a petition
against having an intensive livestock operation imposed on our community. If
the farming community itself does not want this, then an intensive livestock
operation is not "normal" from this community's point of view.
Therefore, whom is the government trying to protect in these acts? Is it the
interests of one person (who might be fronting for a corporation) over those
of everyone else? Fundamentally, the issue revolves around all landowners'
rights, whether farmers or not, to be able to prevent projects that impinge
detrimentally on their common-law right to enjoy their land nuisance-free,
versus the right of another to conduct a factory farming operation that our
bureaucracy has deemed to be a "normal" farming practice.
It is inconceivable that in a democratic society, our government would enact
legislation that entrenches and protects questionable farming practices in
the form of intensive livestock operations for a tiny minority (less than
one per cent) to the detriment of the vast majority of other farmers and
landowners (in excess of 99 per cent).
It is even more inconceivable, given the fact that a large portion of the
minority, the farming community itself questions the validity of terming
intensive livestock operations "normal" farming practices.
RM of Whitemouth
Seven Sisters Falls
Back to top
Wants More Studies, Hearings on Potential Impact of Second Shift
June 27, 2003
By Curtis Brown
The door has opened a crack for the Westman Action
Coalition and now the hog industry watchdog is trying to break it down by
asking for a second round of Clean Environment Commission hearings over
Maple Leaf Pork's proposal for a second shift.
Yesterday, the four-person CEC panel ruled in favour
of the Westman Coalition, allowing the environmental hearings to include
debate on increased hog production and social conditions due to increased
production at Maple Leaf, which is expected to kill an additional 18,000
pigs a day after the second shift is up and running.
After the ruling the WAC went further, asking for the
city - which would expand its wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the
second shift - and Maple Leaf to pay consultants to get concrete answers on
social conditions and hog production, a move which could set back Maple
Leaf's plans by months.
"We have to guarantee all the information is in
front of us," says Glen Koroluk, a presenter with the WAC and member of
Hog Watch Manitoba, an industry watchdog group.
"It's important we take a look at this and we
first need information before we can logically debate it and come to an
Maple Leaf and the city, meanwhile, are saying they
can answer the group's questions now without the delay the WAC is proposing.
The coalition is asking for a socioeconomic impact
assessment, a study on increased hog production due to the second shift and
numbers for a study on water flow into the Assiniboine River.
They want funding from the government for their own
evaluation of the data and are asking the CEC to hold a second round of
hearings after letting the coalition study the new information for at least
John Stephaniuk, the city and Maple Leaf's lawyer,
wants to answer the group's questions and get the hearing finished by today,
when it is scheduled to end.
"I want to say emphatically that the proponent
wants to continue with the proceedings and answer questions to the best of
our ability," he says.
"The proponent has no interest in delaying
Officials from the provincial conservation department
concur with Stephaniuk, saying they cannot study potential hog production
due to the second shift without knowing first where the barns would be
"The impact on additional hog production is
currently unknown. The reason is we have no idea where the production will
occur. Until you know, it's quite difficult to assess the impacts,"
says Larry Strachan, the licensing director for Manitoba Conservation.
Testimony continues this morning at 9 a.m., with the
panel expected to announce its decision on the WAC motion at that time.
Barry Cullen, president of the Brandon Chamber of
Commerce, took the stand at the hearing and said the business lobby wants
the second shift to be approved in "a timely manner."
Bill Paton, a botanist and Brandon University and
member of the WAC, asked Cullen whether the Chamber supports the city using
taxpayer money to pay for the plant.
The cost of the plant, estimated at $15 million, is
being negotiated between Maple Leaf, the city and the province.
Cullen says he agrees with whatever the city's elected
officials decide to do.
"This is a vote of support to the leader's we've
elected," he says.
The panel spent most of Wednesday and most of
yesterday afternoon listening to testimony from several experts Maple Leaf
and the city retained to work on the proposed wastewater plant.
Lawrence Novachis of Zenon Technology walked the panel
through the technology that would run the expanded plant, which is expected
to produce 293 cubic metres of sludge per day.
Zenon did a pilot test of their technology at the
existing wastewater plant in the winter, using a water flow of about one
gallon per minute, and found that their system should be able to take out 92
to 95 per cent of the nitrogen out of the wastewater.
North/South Consultants also did a study of the water
in the Assiniboine River and how increased effluent would affect
concentrations of ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorous and algae.
Their study found that chemical levels spike near the
wastewater plant but settle out as the water flows between Brandon and
Portage la Prairie.
Back to top
Want Barn Opening Delayed
CanWest Global Communications
July 26, 2003
Community leaders in the Pelican Lake area want the Manitoba government
to delay the opening of a new hog barn.
They say a lawsuit against a local reeve should be settled first.
The lawsuit claims the reeve and a councillor of the rural Municipality
of Turtle Mountain were in a conflict of interest when they approved the
hog barn, since they own hog barns themselves.
Bob Wood, reeve of the adjacent Rural Municipality of Strathcona on the
north side of the lake, wants the province to halt construction on the
barn until the legal battle is resolved.
Wood says the new barn will likely be up and running long before the
courts come to a decision on the case.
Provincial officials say they will not intervene, saying the court can
be asked to order a halt on construction until the case is decided.
Wood fears the hog facility will pollute Pelican Lake, which is a major
tourist draw for the region south of Brandon.
Back to top
Plant Layoffs Shake Neepawa
Small Town Reeling from Loss of 340 Jobs
Winnipeg Free Press
August 5, 2003
NEEPAWA -- Scale is everything in a
small rural community.
The loss of one job in a town like
Neepawa, population 3,300, is like losing nearly 200 jobs in Winnipeg, with
its population almost 200 times larger.
So the recent layoff of 340
employees here by Springhill Farms hog processing plant -- the equivalent of
about 60,000 workers in Winnipeg -- means hard times ahead for this
community, better known as the "Lily Capital" for its lily
The layoff comes on the heels of the
beef trade crisis. Now a drought is reducing crop yields.
"It's going to be a pretty
scary winter. I really fear for people," said barber Grant Hurrell, or
Hymie the Haircutter as his sign says -- his childhood nickname after
"Hymie the Robot" of television series Get Smart. Hurrell is
already starting to see business slacken as residents tighten their belts.
"People are making changes now
to their future, which will affect our future," said Roger McGillivray,
manager of the Neepawa Furniture Centre.
The layoff by Springhill Farms,
owned by four Hutterite colonies and an outside partner, shocked everyone.
Springhill is the largest employer in Neepawa, located about 170
kilometres west of Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway. The company has
avoided layoffs for much of its history.
"There are people in every
family in the area where workers are affected," said Neepawa Mayor Bob
Everything from construction
companies, to farm equipment dealers, to restaurants, to the rental property
market, which is surprisingly large due to the growth of the Springhill
plant, will feel the pinch, said Durston.
Provincial officials were to meet
with Springhill Farms to discuss the options available to the facility. A
provincial spokesman said the company has made proposals to the
province, which are now being reviewed.
There had been some talk of
converting the plant into a cattle slaughtering facility to help during the
mad cow crisis, but the spokesman said neither the province nor the
company are interested in pursuing retrofits for cattle slaughter.
There are still possibilities to use
it for its cold storage to allow other cattle slaughter facilities to
Springhill blames mounting losses
for forcing it to lay off 220 employees in late June, and another 120 last
week. Only 25 staff remain.
The company was losing $30 on every
hog processed at the time of the layoff, said Bill Teichroew, Springhill
Farms general manager and ownership partner. That was after a
"very bad year" in 2002.
"We've never experienced losses
like this before. Before the bank tells you what to do, you do
something," said Teichroew.
Maple Leaf Pork, with plants in
Brandon and Winnipeg, has also seen profits diminish, but it has deeper
pockets to withstand a downturn.
Several factors contributed to the
losses at Springhill. The rise of Canada's dollar by at least 12 per cent
over last year has narrowed margins. The pork industry has also felt
spillover from the crisis over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an
Alberta cow, that has made some buyers jittery about buying meat from
Canada. Due to BSE, American customers have also stopped buying offal from
hog production for making pet food.
Also, competition in the United
States has heated up considerably among pork processors. Maple Leaf Pork in
Winnipeg recently cancelled its contract with Springhill, which was
killing 8,000 hogs per week for Maple Leaf.
"I don't know why (competition
is so fierce). I talked to a guy that's been in the industry 30 years, and
he doesn't know why either," said Teichroew.
Management maintains it has every
intention to operate again once it becomes profitable to do so. Teichroew
said futures prices for the last quarter of the year are down to
$1.20-$1.30 per pound for live hogs, from recent prices of about $1.50. That
indicates margins may improve later in the year and possibly allow the
plant to reopen, but there is no target date.
Workers can't help but wonder if the
independently owned, medium-sized abattoir may be closed for good.
"There are all kinds of rumours," said a senior employee, who
asked not to be named.
The industry has undergone
tremendous consolidation in the last decade. Some of the companies that have
disappeared include Schneiders, Burns and Gainers. The two giants still
standing in Canada are Maple Leaf and Olymel of Quebec.
Workers understand the company
couldn't afford to keep losing money, but are chagrined that the remaining
staff weren't chosen by seniority. The skeleton staff are fulfilling a
six-week order for Japan.
Some laid-off cutters are starting
to explore other job opportunities, such as Granny's Poultry in Steinbach.
"People are going to pack up. They'll lose senior cutting people
if they don't reopen soon," said the employee.
The salary range for employees is
$30,000 to $35,000. Workers are unionized, and represented by the United
Food and Commercial Workers. Their collective agreement expires next
The packing plant was opened in 1987
by Springhill Hutterite Colony, which wanted a market for its hogs. One of
the founders was Mack Wollman of Springhill Colony, who still keeps a
hand in the business. The packing plant has undergone several
reorganizations since then, the last being in 1997
when it became a partnership between Springhill and three other
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Leaf wants barns in N. Dakota to supply Brandon plant
Winnipeg Free Press
Thursday, September 4th, 2003
CANDO, N.D. -- Maple Leaf Foods' plan for encouraging large-scale,
independently owned hog farms in the United States to supply its
pork-processing plant in Brandon is raising a stink in rural North Dakota.
Construction has begun on two sets of hog barns near Cando, about 195
kilometres northwest of Grand Forks. Dakota Country Swine, owned by J.B.
(Bruce) and Lisa Gibbens and his sister, Judy Gibbens, has 10 barns and is
expected to turn out 60,000 hogs a year once it's in full operation. Another
operation, Hexagon Farm, owned by J.R. (Jim) Gibbens and his wife, Linda, is
similar in size. Combined, the project is worth about $4 million US.
The two farms are part of a larger plan by Elite Swine Inc., a subsidiary
of Maple Leaf Foods Co., to expand pig production in the state, the first
step in a fundamental change for North Dakota agriculture.
It was two years ago when the Gibbenses met Craig Jarolimek, a North
Dakota-based representative for Elite Swine. Jarolimek, who was president of
the National Pork Producers Council in 2000, emptied his barns, and rented
out his land to work as a consultant with Elite Swine. His mission is to
discover opportunities for pork expansion in North Dakota.
State Rep. Gene Nicholas, (R-Cando), chairman of the House Agriculture
Committee, urged him to make presentations to Cando economic leaders. The
town of about 1,600 people had already embraced progressive agribusiness
when it attracted the first integrated noodle plant in the U.S.
"Gene is a good friend of Bruce and mine, and he said, 'You ought to
look at feeding pigs instead of cattle,' " Jim Gibbens says.
Jarolimek has to find interested owners for the hog operations because of
North Dakota's anti-corporate farming law. In Canada, no such legislation
exists, allowing Maple Leaf to buy land and set up its own farms.
In the Gibbens case, the plans aren't finalized. But Elite Swine has
"bargained" with its own parent company, Maple Leaf Foods, to
potentially deliver hogs to Maple Leaf's underused Brandon plant, Jarolimek
Jarolimek notes that the Brandon plant wasn't built with the vision of
sourcing pigs from North Dakota, but the freight and logistics are making
that more and more logical. Among other things, the U.S.-Canadian currency
exchange rate is changing, so feed-cost differences also are changing. The
country-of-origin-labelling issue may have an effect as well, but that's
The Gibbenses liked what they heard from Elite Swine -- 10-year contracts
-- actually, five-year contracts with an option to renew for another five
years. These were terms unavailable in the beef industry.
Jarolimek says the deal has been vetted with the North Dakota Attorney
General's office. The Gibbenses are assured a rental space on their barns at
a fixed price. "We pay them monthly for pig space, over five
years," Jarolimek says.
The contracts are all in U.S. dollars, Jim says. "They don't
fluctuate with the exchange rate. Good, bad or otherwise, they're
While the process of setting up the large hog farms differs on both sides
of the 49th parallel, the controversy about such intensive operations knows
Some area residents strongly oppose large-scale hog production and what
they believe will be negative effects on the environment and way of life.
They expect it to stink and even drive out waterfowl hunters they've been
trying to attract.
Others say the hog development is overdue -- a way to capitalize on the
cheap feed grains produced here and shipped elsewhere to feed animals. It's
a way to keep people on the land. Either way, the Gibbenses are at the
centre of it.
On July 10 in Cando, hog-project opponent Roger Copeland, invited
rancher/activist Sue Jarrett of Wray, Colo. to speak at an informal meeting,
Jarrett, a former co-chair of the USDA's Small Farm Advisory committee,
talked about her six years of having five 16,000-head hog barns within five
kilometres of her ranch.
Water quality and the loss of family farms -- not smell -- are Jarrett's
main concerns. She acknowledges that the Gibbens' lagoons are legal under
state health department rules, but says they are oversized, creating a
bigger base for leakage.
Opponents compare the Gibbens' barns to the EnviroPork facilities near
Larimore, N.D. Jim Gibbens says EnviroPork is "successfully running and
doing a good job."
He says that if the operation, which employs 19 people, had been set
farther off of U.S. Highway 2, there would be fewer complaints.
The Cando community will need to adjust to survive and thrive, Jim says.
Right now, that means hogs.
"In case you don't know it, Microsoft is not stopping in Cando. The
name of our game is always going to be 'ag something-or-other.' "
Think of the jobs, he says. There'll be the 12 finishing barn workers,
the four or five for the nursery barns, the 18 workers in the farrowing
"One loop would be 30 to 35 direct jobs. And for every direct job,
we think one to two new spin-off jobs. We could have 70 people working in
Cando with one loop."
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Sty of the Continent
Letter to the Editor
September 12, 2003
This year I travelled much of North America by bicycle. After 10,000 kms, I
could not avoid the realization that my home province is one of the
smelliest jurisdictions on the continent. I am a proud Manitoba farm boy,
but the concentration of hog barns and putrid air in the vicinity of
Steinbach was far worse than anything else I encountered.
And what are the benefits of being the pig sty of the continent? These bacon
factories provide minimal employment (post construction) and the slaughter
houses provide notoriously undesirable jobs. Seems like a script conceived
by corporate ham honchos far removed from the stench and contaminated water.
There seems something distinctly counter-intuitive about the way in which
our governments – past and present – bend over backwards to make way for
the industrial bacon enthusiasts. I expect my government to defend the
interests of family farms, the land, and Manitobans in general. Instead they
seem to have assumed the role f chief apologist for the
corporate-dominated pig industry. Can we not come up with a more creative
strategy for the agricultural sector?
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played role in manure spill: report
River pollution narrowly averted
Thursday, September 18th, 2003
By Helen Fallding
AN engineering consultant claims a hog manure tank that narrowly missed
polluting a river running through two Interlake reserves ripped open this
spring because it was corroded.
Manitoba has about 40 similar steel hog manure tanks, but the manufacturer
says they are safe if used properly.
In a report prepared for the Marble Ridge Hutterite colony, an engineering
consultant claims there was evidence of corrosion along the joint where the
tank tore open in March. More than two million litres of liquid manure that
spewed from the tank ripped a pump house from its foundation.
Ruptured pipes blew propane into the hog barn's ventilation, but quick
action saved the hogs and kept the manure within hastily-built snow banks.
"If it had happened during spring runoff, it would have been far
worse," said business consultant Johann Sigurdson, who helped the
colony manage the disaster.
Without snow to hold it back, the hog manure could have drained into a river
that runs through the Peguis and Fisher River First Nations before emptying
into Lake Winnipeg.
As it was, the cleanup cost the colony about $100,000, Sigurdson estimates.
Tom Struthers, who owns the Winnipeg Managro dealership that sells
Slurrystore tanks, said the 11-year-old open-topped tank split while colony
workers were drawing off liquid.
He said the manufacturer has long warned farmers against doing that in
winter because the weight of suspended ice hanging from the sides can make
the tank crumple like a coke can.
"I don't think anybody would knowingly do that now," Struthers
There are special procedures that can be used to safely empty a tank in
winter in an emergency, he said.
In his report to the colony, Winnipeg engineer Frank Roberts claimed
corrosion had reduced the Marble Ridge tank shell to half its normal
thickness in some places. "While it would certainly be possible for
movement of ice to exert pressure on the shell, there was no evidence of
damage on the surface of the tank shell to indicate this was a factor,"
Any corrosion on the glass-coated steel tank may have been caused by
previous damage from misuse of the tank in winter, Struthers said.
After a spill last year from another steel tank in MacGregor, provincial
officials suggested metal fatigue may have been a contributing factor.
Managro and manufacturer Engineered Storage Products of Illinois said the
panels -- which they did not assemble -- were not put together properly.
Struthers said there have been no problems with about 40 tanks his company
installed in Manitoba, as long as they are used according to the
The colony plans to replace its tank with concrete tanks. Struthers said
concrete tanks have their own problems because they are partly underground,
making leaks harder to detect.
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Failing to Monitor Hog Industry: Watchdogs
October 7, 2003
Manitoba's Conservation department admits it slipped up in its handling of a
hog manure spill this spring – and now it's scrambling to rectify the
"These are the sort of things
that damage the public's confidence in the whole ability of
the department to serve the public good."
The spill happened in the Interlake in May. A tank of manure tipped over
into a ditch, spilling almost 18,000 litres. A "suck truck" was
called in to remove as much of the manure as possible, but because the ditch
was dry at the time, Conservation Department officials say most of the
manure soaked into the ground.
Soil samples were ordered, but staff later changed their minds, and the
samples were never taken.
"There should have been a sample taken," says Don Cook, acting
assistant deputy minister of the department. "When it was determined it
hadn't been taken, it's been taken now."
Conservation officials say the environment officer at the scene was new
and acted on bad advice, but they add they are confident the soil tests will
prove no damage was done.
• More inspectors needed? •
Fred Tait of the environmental group Hogwatch is appalled: "Well,
that's pretty slap-happy procedure. Why would you not do that testing? This
is a major spill."
"Under what logic would you not do the soil test? Because you don't
know until you've done the soil test what sort of level of contaminant there
could be there that could be exposed to the surface water, that runs down
that ditch. These are the sort of things that damage the public's confidence
in the whole ability of the department to serve the public good."
Tait says what makes it worse is that department officials didn't even
realize the samples were not taken until contacted by CBC News. The samples
were ordered only after CBC News asked for the test results. Tait isn't
surprised by the way the government handled this case; he says the hog
industry has exploded in recent years, but the Conservation Department has
"It's only very recently they were still looking for the barns –
they didn't know where the barns were around the province," he says.
Tait fears that new regulations being introduced this fall will go
unenforced. He says the number of inspectors should be at least tripled.
Conservation Minister Steve Ashton says he will increase resources if
necessary, but he would not commit to a specific amount.
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