Archive for September, 2011

Never bite the hand that feeds you

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Neepawa businesses, the Town of Neepawa mayor Ron Forsman and local hog producers stood up to be counted in the ongoing hog war. A media information event was held at Neepawa’s ShopEasy  store to bring attention to the disastrous effects that Bill 46 will have on Manitoba and its hog indsustry. Neepawa is home to Hylife Foods which processes over 3,500 hogs per day and employs nearly 1,000 people. I use the word “war” as the province of Manitoba’s NDP government declared war on the hog industry in 2008 with the ill-thought out hog barn moratorium. That nasty piece of legislation was the most hotly debated bill in decades. The committee hearings went on for weeks and literally thousands of people attended the hearings.
In spite of overwhelming evidence in favour of the hog industry, the Winnipeg centred NDP barreled through with the legislation that virtually eliminates anyone from ever building a new or replacement barn in Manitoba.
The inference has been that hog manure contributes to the pollution of our lakes. Well it does, if you count less than two percent as a “contribution”. The moratorium went into law at the same time that Winnipeg was regularly flushing raw human waste into the Red and Assiniboine rivers, making a much larger “contribution”, if you will, to lake pollution.
The Free Press quotes as follows, “Industry officials and Dan Flaten, a U of M soil expert, argue that not only are hog producers a small contributor to phosphorus loading in Lake Winnipeg, producers have been pro-active in implementing the latest technology to minimize the environmental impact of their industry.” Well actually, it’s “Don” Flaten but the Free Press is a big place and they make mistakes sometimes. So do we sometimes.
Since the 2008 moratorium bill, a 2011 bill, Bill 46, a bill to protect Lake Winnipeg has been passed into law.
On Tuesday, the Winnipeg Free Press web site posted a story that said, “Instituted earlier this summer as part of measures to protect Lake Winnipeg, the moratorium was supported by both the NDP and the Tories.
The highlighted statement in italics is wrong. So the Free Press makes errors in fact as well as spelling. The actual “hog barn moratorium” was brought in by Bill 17 in 2008 as stated above. It was vigorously opposed by PC Manitoba. Bill 46 (Lake Winnipeg Act) passed in June 2011, contained the following amending provision which allows permits to be issued pending satisfaction of environmental criteria:
40.1(1) Except as authorized by a permit issued under this section, no person shall construct, expand or modify a confined livestock area for pigs or a pig manure storage facility on land that is within
(a) an area listed in the Schedule; or
(b) any other area of Manitoba. 
The effect of this amendment is to allow barns as long as the environmental standards are met. That the PC Manitoba party would vote for it should not have been a surprise as it loosens the moratorium, albeit only slightly. It is however a move in the right direction and to have voted against Bill 46 would have been wrong. Farmers, hog processors, local councils and business people have every right to be upset about Bill 46. Bill 46 is certainly less than what the hog industry would want or that the very environmentally conscious hog industry deserves but at least this amendment allows for a barn to be built, albeit under very expensive and onerous conditions. Bill 46 regulations are actually beyond what most, if any farmers can afford. That was the message of the Tuesday morning media event at Neepawa. A full report appears elsewhere in this paper.
In a speech on Tuesday morning at the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Hugh McFadyen, PC Manitoba leader said that if elected they would provide help for farmers to meet the new regulations. McFadyen stated that a government can’t impose costly regulations on an industry and not help them to meet those regulations.
The utter irony of Bill 46 and the NDP’s iron-clad stance on hog barns is overwhelming. The hog industry is one of the most environmentally conscious of all farm enterprises. Overall, farming is far more environmentally friendly than just about any other human endeavour and yet the government is blaming farming for the woes brought on by urbanization, inadequate infrastructure and misuses of the environment beyond our borders.
The practical political reality is that city voters and parties that base themselves largely on the city vote don’t care, and don’t have to care, about farming. Until the food shelves at the grocery store dry up, they have no intention of caring.
They say to never bite the hand that feeds you but that bit of advice doesn’t seem to apply in Manitoba.


kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247