Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"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.

January 2002 to June 2003 | July 2003 to September 2003 | October 2003 to Present

Barrier Valley

Members of the North East Hogs Committee
As reported by North East Hogs
On or Before April 7, 2003

Based on information on hand as of October 1, 2003

Original Committee Members - Click to EnlargeThese are the original members of the North East Hogs Committee as reported by North East Hogs literature on or about April 7, 2003.  Click on the photo above to enlarge it for easier readability.  

Based on the information available to us as of October 1, 2003, the following members have resigned: Robin Rustad, Allan Nelson, Robert Wilson, Rick Hamel, Rene J. George, and Christie MacDonald. 

RM Council Members Bruce Thompson and Keith Braaten claim they were never part of North East Hogs, however, NEH literature begs to differ.  As a side note, neither Mr. Braaten nor Mr. Thompson would sign a declaration stating they were NOT members of North East Hogs.  Furthermore, Mr. DuWayne Lupien, Chair of the North East Hogs Committee, would neither confirm nor deny current membership.  He has yet to reply to our registered letter of August 17, 2003 asking for confirmation of Mr. Braaten's and Mr. Thompson's status (click here).  According to Canada Post, this letter was picked up six weeks ago.

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Hog Barn in Tisdale's Future?
The Tisdale Recorder
January 23, 2002

Both organizers and Florian Possberg of Big Sky Farms were pleased with the attendance and response from the community at the North East Hogs meeting on January 17, in Tisdale.  The project is an initiative of the Kelsey Rural Economic Development Corporation, but its future now lies in the hands of the community-at-large.  The North East Hogs committee will not be making an immediate decision on the project and encourages residents to ask questions and make their views known... for, against or indifferent.

Florian Possberg's Big Sky Farms wants to do serious business in the Tisdale region.  The question put forth to approximately 160 people in attendance at the North East Hogs meeting in Tisdale, Thursday, January 17, was whether or not the community-at-large wants to do business with Big Sky Farms, Inc.

The Humboldt area producer says hogs are his business and have been since 1975, when he began to expand the family's 60 sow operation.  Big Sky Farms currently owns and operates hog barns in the Goodeve, Lintlaw, Kelvington, Preeceville, Sturgis, Ogema, Rama, Quill Lake and Wadena areas, has begun construction in the Porcupine Plain area, and is cooperating on feasibility studies underway with the potential to expand into the MacNutt, Pelly Rosthern and Tisdale regions.

"Our committee has no intention of working another year or two, only to find out that the community didn't want this (hog barn development)," commented Roger Armstrong of the RM of Tisdale, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the North East Hogs committee which also includes: Cal Reid (Town of Tisdale), David Morgan (RM of Connaught), Larry Kozar (RM of Barrier Valley), Gary Skjerpen (RM of Star City) and Dough Hay, the region's Economic Development Officer.

Approximately a year and a half ago, with the intention of creating economic activity in the region, the Kelsey Rural Economic Development Corporation initiated discussion with Big Sky Farms, and subsequently put in place a committee, North East Hogs to determine the feasibility and desirability of a 5000-sow, farrow to finish hog operation in the vicinity.  The project would require five barn units located at least five miles apart, and one central feed mill site.

To date, potential sites that meet Big Sky's criteria have been identified but the extensive environmental studies have not yet been undertaken to give any indication whatsoever, as to whether or not any of these sites would meet the stringent government regulations for intensive livestock operations.

"It looks promising, but when we contacted the people in the area, the reactions were extreme; either they really wanted a barn, or they had very serious concerns.  There were questions that we just didn't have the answers to," Armstrong elaborated.

"The point of this meeting is to give you information so that you can make a decision whether or not this is what you want to bring to the community," Armstrong said, setting the tone for the presentations to follow.  Clearly, it was a question that the group in attendance took seriously.  Proponents and opponents alike, gave respectful and careful consideration to the information that was presented at the meeting, prior to submitting their opinions to the North East Hogs committee.

"This public process is important because once the barns are built, we're married to your community for thirty years, or longer," Possberg opened.  "It's up to the community to decide and therefore, it's important that you understand what it's all about."

Toward this end, representatives from Sask Pork, SaskWater, manned information booths alongside presenters from Big Sky Farms, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food's Inspection and Regulatory Management, Agricultural Operations Branch and North East Hogs.

Possberg provided insight into today's hog industry, Big Sky's production, barn and feed mill operations , as well as the economic advantages for both Big Sky and the community.

The purpose of the North East Hogs meeting was to provide information to the community so people can make informed decisions and provide the organizers with direction as to whether or not to proceed with the proposed 5000 Sow Development Project.  Roger Armstrong (centre) of the RM of Tisdale, chaired the meeting and welcomed feedback, both for and against the formal presentations.  Results of the unofficial poll showed that alongside the silent majority, 21 participants were strongly in favour and 26 were strongly opposed to the project.

Ernie Patrick, Big Sky's Field Services Manager responsible for manure management systems and operations, addressed issues related to storage, odour environment, effluent and soil testing, application rates, systems and procedures.  His education and field experience provide the basis for his systems approach to manure management, which he described as cycling nutrients using water; a spectrum of soil nutrients is taken up by the crop, fed and recycled through the hogs to be returned to the soil as manure.

In addition to the current research data that he works with and technical data presented at the meeting, Sask Pork, through moneys realized from the industry's provincial hog checkoff as well as with funding from Agri-Food Innovation Pork Industry Development Fund, has commissioned no fewer than 15 recent field studies and research projects aimed at verifying and developing systems to facilitate the use of swine effluent as a safe, cost effective, sustainable and renewable resource as a viable fertilizer in crop production.

Darren Stovin, Regional specialist with SAF's Inspection and Regulatory Management Branch outlined the extensive and comprehensive regulations that govern the development of intensive livestock operations in the province.  He specifically addressed the provisions that ensure that ground water is protected.  Based on results of testing, SAF is concerned with two aspects, those being a waste storage plan that meets approved construction techniques, as well as a waste0-use plan for manure and deads that is environmentally sustainable.  A total of 15 government agencies may be involved in reviewing the application and with on-site inspections.

That said however, Possberg commented that past experience has proven that government permits don't mean anything without the support of the community.  "Because we want the community to participate in the process, we ask for a commitment of finances and time," he explained, elaborating on the approximately $25,000 investment per site required to provide suitable locations and obtain the necessary permits related to geo-technical testing, water, public concerns and  manure disposal contracts.  The money invested by the community will be returned with interest, when Big Sky begins construction.

Construction of the five-unit operation and feed mill is not dependent on the community's ability to sell shares and raise money as is the case with many economic development projects.  Due to the huge amount of working capital required, an estimated $30 million, Big Sky obtains the capital, builds the barns, sells them to investors and then leases the facility back.

"We do all the management from concept to reality and have a proven track record in communities where we have barns and we continue to build on our record with each successful project," Possberg said expressing sincere desire to continue expansion in the northeast.  "This is where we want to be."  There is more feed grain and no oil industry to compete with for employees.  Producers stand to gain as much as a $.50 per bushel in freight savings realized from delivering into a local domestic market, and have access to an inexpensive source of fertilizer.

Big Sky's mission is "to be the Canadian leader in efficient production of pork in a socially responsible manner", but in today's industry, with its moving targets in areas such as production, housing and manure management, Possberg says the definition of socially responsible is ever changing.

He acknowledged that much of the controversy regarding hog barn development is related to people's fears surrounding these social and environmental issues.  Stories form the US and Europe have created a negative image of the industry, but while people profess to oppose development of hog barns, based on concerns about the environment or odour, he has found that their opinions are often rooted in the general resistance to change and dislike for large scare or "corporate" operations.  "People aren't' against hog production, but would rather see it on small family farms," he summarized.

While Saskatchewan has great potential for expansion because of a climate conducive to disease control, its huge land base, abundant feed grains, and superior genetics, it has lagged behind, at only seven percent of Canadian production, because in the past, it was better business to grow grain for export.  As well, few people now have hog experience to provide leadership, or the capital to develop large-scale operations.  "People need a shock to wake up to the fact that the way we did things won't work anymore," Possberg stated.

Television crews were on hand at the Tisdale Civic Centre, last Thursday afternoon, to capture the reaction of the community to a proposed 5000-sow operation in the Tisdale region.  While there is some of the usual controversy surrounding the development of any intensive livestock operation, to their credit, the 160 people at the meeting were respectful of each others' opinions and gave thoughtful consideration to the information presented.

While achieving the economies of efficiency and scale have become the driving force behind expansion in the hog industry, another of Big Sky's goals is to earn a reputation as being a great company to work for.  Following a three-month probation, employees receive a monthly salary of $1818 plus production bonuses that can be upwards of $796 per month.  Group benefits, vacation days and training are other benefits offered, along with the security of full-time employment.

It is estimated that the project would provide 40 jobs directly related to mil, barn and trucking operations as well as another 129 indirect jobs for an annual payroll of approximately $1.6 million.  Another 250 to 300 jobs would be created during the construction phase, in addition to work contracted out to local businesses.  Fifty percent of the cost of construction would be spent locally.

Big Sky is one of the few developers which sets up a local feed mill for each project as opposed to buying processed feed and hauling it in from outside areas.  As a local market for feed grains, the company would require a total of approximately 1.2 million bushels of barley, wheat and peas (production from some 30,000 acres) valued at $3.6 million.

Manure applied every three years to 5000 of the required 15, 000 acres within a three mile radius of the barns is applied via an umbilical (hose) system at a cost of $15 to $25 to the farmer and valued at $300,000 to $400,000 annually.

North East Hogs, with support from local farmers, municipal councils and business leaders believes that this project would be a good investment for the Tisdale area and would generate both economic and social benefits, good-paying permanent jobs, and a market for locally grown grain.  Past experience has shown that economic activity such as this generates further investment opportunities.

"It's not often that an opportunity such as this falls into our lap... 40 jobs and $30 million worth of construction, in one swoop.  Plans to create economic development are seldom perfect; most times there has to be a compromise," Armstrong recapped, citing pulp mills and oil refineries as examples of such industries.

"We don't have oil, potash or forestry.  We have grain to work with," he summed up.  "This is not a project to rush headlong into, but neither is it one to throw away lightly."

North East Hogs is hopeful that further response to the proposed project will be forthcoming and encourages people to ask questions, gather information and make an informed decision regarding the initiative.  Whether for or against, committee members are waiting for the community to make known their wishes.

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Who is North East Hogs?
Brochure from April 9, 2003

We are a group from the Tisdale/Archerwill area organized to explore the possibility of setting up an Intensive Livestock Operations (hogs) in our area.  Our goals are to:

  • Stimulate local economic activity and growth
  • Create local employment opportunities
  • Develop additional markets for locally grown feed grains

Why Hogs?

Saskatchewan enjoys many natural advantages in producing hogs, including:

  • Feed Costs.  Whether we like it or not, high freight costs and the lack of significant local market results in relatively lower grain prices here than anywhere else in Canada.  Since feed is over 60% of the cost of producing a market animal, raising hogs in Saskatchewan simply makes good economic sense.
  • Climate.  Saskatchewan's cold, dry weather may not seem like much of a benefit, but it is great for controlling disease and maintaining high feed conversions.  Pigs do not do well in hot weather and it's a lot easier to heat a barn than cool it.
  • Animal Health.  The Saskatchewan hog industry has one of the highest animal health standards in the world.
  • World Class Genetics.  Many of the world's leading swing genetic companies have nucleus and multiplication units in Saskatchewan.
  • Low Hog Density.
    • Manitoba - 11 times greater.
    • north Caroline - 70 times greater.
    • Netherlands - 120 times greater.
  • An Abundance of Acres on which to apply Manure.  Properly managed, hog manure will produce crop yields at least as good as commercial fertilizer but at a much lower cost.
  • Saskatchewan Research Community.  Saskatchewan is recognized has having world-class capabilities in the field of swine research.

Why Big Sky Farms?

  • Big Sky sets up a local feed mill and scale for each project as opposed to buying processed feed and hauling it in from outside areas.
  • Big Sky sources the capital required to proceed with a project.  It is impossible to raise sufficient funds locally to proceed with a project of this size.
  • Big Sky has already successfully developed and is operating similar sized projects.  Big Sky hires local people and supports local businesses.

What is a 5,000 Sow Big Sky Production Unit?

Big Sky's Production Units operate on a three-site format consisting of:

A Breeder/Farrow barn with the capacity for approximately 5,000 sows plus boars and gilts.  The Breeder/Farrow barn will produce approximately 2,400 piglets per week.

One Nursery barn with the capacity for 19,200 weanling pigs.  Weanlings are fed for seven to eight weeks, reaching an average weight of 27 kilograms.

Three Finisher barns on three separate sites; 2 barns with the capacity for 14, 4000 animals and one barn with the capacity for 12,000 animals.

A feed mill similar to Big Sky's mills at Ogema and Rama plus a large scale at a centralized location.

Click to enlarge

On an annual basis, a Big Sky feed mill typically purchases:

  • 540,000 Bushels Barley

  • 660,000 Bushels Wheat

  • 300,000 Bushels Peas

Amounts can vary with changes in price and availability.

How is manure managed?

All Big Sky manure is tested for total N, ammonium, phosphorous, sulfur and several other nutrients and properties.  Test results provide the basis for determining application rates in consultation with the farmer.

Example: A farmer has land near a Big Sky breeder/farrow barn, and wants 120 lbs N applied/acre.  In 2002, breeder/farrow barn manure in the Big Sky system averaged 19.5 lbs ammonium/1000 gallons, 5.8 lbs phosphate and 1.4 lbs sulfur.  To get 120 lbs N the application rate would be: 120/19.5x1000=6,154 gallons/acre (1 inch of rain is approximately 22,000 gallons per acre).  This application would also provide 36 lbs phosphate and 9 lbs of sulfur per acre.  At today's fertilizer prices the value of N, P and S from this application is over $60 per acre.  Big Sky charges $5 per acre to apply on pastures and hayfields, $15 per acre on crop land.

How is manure applied?

Big Sky uses an umbilical system to apply  manure, consisting of a pump located at the manure storage and enough 6" hose to go up to 4 miles from the site.  This hose is stepped down to a special 5" drag hose in the field and pulled behind an applicator as manure is applied.  One of the major advantages of using hoses instead of tankers to deliver manure to the field is that road impact is eliminated.

Big Sky has two applicators available.  One is a single disk opener developed by Bourgault and similar in design to their mid-row banders.  The second is an Aerway applicator consisting of a manure distribution system mounted on a pasture aerator.  Both units create minimal soil disturbance and work well with no-till farming systems.  Rates are determined by a flow meter located on the injector and set by varying tractor speed.

What about Odour??

Although odour cannot be completely eliminated, its impact is reduced by:

Straw coverings on EMS facilities.  Good quality barley straw spread as a cover has been proven to be an effective method of reducing odour.  Big Sky owns a straw blower and applies approximately 150 round barley straw bales/site/year.

Direct injection of manure.  Directly injecting manure into the soil with an injector type implement greatly reduces odour.  Direct injection also eliminates the risk of manure run-off into surface water bodies, and preserves nutrients by preventing evaporation.

Location, location, location.  Paying attention to prevailing winds, utilizing bush and shelter belts, and using common sense all go a long way to reducing the impact of odour on neighbours.

Who is liable?

An issue has been raised about liability and risks that a landowner might face if Big Sky is given permission to inject manure on the land.  Big Sky accepts all liability and has a comprehensive insurance policy that will also cover the farmers' legal costs.

By the Numbers

Facts and Figures for a 5000 Sow Farrow to Finish Operation
Total number of sites 5 barns + 1 mill site
Hogs produced annually 120,000+
Total project cost $30.2 million1
Total construction cost $25.2 million
Construction jobs created 200 - 250
Full-time jobs created 40+
Part-time jobs created 6 - 12
Annual local payroll $1.4 million2
Annual local feed grain purchased 1.4 million bushels
Annual water usage 50 - 55 million gallons3
Annual manure production 40 million gallons
Acres fertilized per year 5,000 - 6,000
Acres fertilized on a 3 year rotation 15,000 - 18,000
1 - Includes cash flow to first pigs to market

2 - Does not include employer payroll costs or employee benefits of dental, medical, disability and pension.

3 - To put this in perspective, a 160 acre field at Regina on average receives 51,000,000 gallons of precipitation per year.

Committee Members:
As appearing on the informational brochure
Names crossed off are individuals who have since resigned

Roger Armstrong - 873-4515
Cal Reid - 873-6262
David Morgan - 873-4843
Larry Kozar - 873-4340
Gary Skjerpen - 873-4588
Doug Hay - 873-2681
Bruce Thompson - 323-4307
Keith Braaten - 873-5274
Joel Slind - 323-2088
DuWayne Lupien - 323-4372
Roger Thevenot - 323-4506
Robin Rustad - 322-2291
Allan Nelson - 323-2381
Robert Wilson - 323-4855
Rick Hamel
Rene J. George - 323-2115
Christie MacDonald

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Archerwill/Rose Valley Consider Hog Barns
Wadena News
April 16, 2003
By: Anne Sanderson

The hog barn project proposed for the Archerwill/Rose Valley area received the necessary approval to proceed following a pair of public meetings in those communities on April 9.

North East Hogs, the group organized to explore the possibility of setting up an intensive livestock area, told The News on Friday, April 11 that it will start one-on-one meetings with the public after Easter.  The meetings will be the first step to finding a suitable location for the project, which calls for a 5,000-sow farrow-to-finish operation valued at $30.2 million.

This move follows a positive endorsement from over 150 people who attended the public meetings held in Archerwill and Rose Valley this past week.  The meetings, which included speakers from the Tisdale Economic Development Department, North East Hogs, the Spirit Creek Watershed Monitoring Committee, Sask. Ag and Food and Big Sky Pork were held to provide the public with enough information to make an educated decision.

North East Hogs initially became interested in the large-scale hog barn industry when it was looking for ways to stimulate local economic activity and growth. Members say the beauty of having a hog barn in area is that it would provide a liberal injection of local employment opportunities and give farmers an additional market for locally grown feed grains.

If adequate public interest is shown Big Sky Pork has indicated that it is willing to back the project.  The operation would produce more than 120,000 hogs annually which would create more than 40 full-time jobs and up to a dozen part-time positions.  Also about 250 jobs would be created during the construction phase.  Big Sky Pork CEO Florian Possberg says annual payrolls of like-facilities is about $1.4 million with many of the jobs brining in average annual salaries over $30,000, with full benefits and pension.

The operation would require about 1.4 million bushels of feed grain, which in years of reasonable crop production would be purchased locally.  Possberg says that the lack of subsoil moisture in the province decreased production by about 55 percent in 2002.  This has been reflected in the prices Big Sky was able to pay for feed.  It has also caused the company to include U.S.-corn in its rations as it was not able to draw an adequate local supply because of the quality, quantity and bushel weight of Saskatchewan feed grain this past year.

Possberg says that using U.S.-corn is not a long-term solution because of the freight costs involved.  "Feed is 60-percent of the cost of raising hogs, so it makes sense that we would want to use the most cost-effective method," he stated.  "Big Sky Pork supports using locally grown feed grains whenever possible.  Besides it is a known fact that corn-fed hogs produce poorer quality pork."

Another bonus of having a hog barn in the area is the potential for farmers to use manure as an alternative for commercial fertilizer.  Big Sky Pork Field Services Manager Ernie Patrick says that a facility of this size will produce about 40 million gallons of manure a year, which has the capacity to fertilize 5-6,000 acres.  Big Sky sells the manure for $5 an acre for pasture land and $15 an acre for cultivated cropland, which Patrick believes is a "good price in comparison to the going rate for commercial fertilizers."

Don Walters of the Spirit Creek Watershed Committee revealed results from a study of the Rama hog barn project which has been ongoing since 2001.  He said a recent odor study done by some 140-plus residents in the Rama area revealed that about three percent of those surveyed believe that odor is a problem.  The community is embarking on another odor study starting this month, which will use scientific information to back information submitted by the local people to determine what is an acceptable level of odor.  Spirit Watershed Monitoring Committee has also established baselines for soil and water in the Rama to determine if the hog barns cause any notable change to the environment.  "So far we haven't found anything that is an issue," Walters said during the public meeting held in Archerwill.  "But if we do, you can be you will hear about it.  That is what we are here for, is to keep an eye on the industry, to make sure it operates in a fashion that is acceptable to the majority of the people in the immediate area and does not have a lasting impact on the environment."

The communities involved must provide a suitable location which is a minimum of five miles from another significant hog operation.  That property must also be an acceptable distance from dwellings.  There must be sufficient access to utilities and approximately 50 million gallons of water annually.  To put the water requirements into perspective Possberg said that four inches of rainfall on a section of land will provide over 55-million gallons of water.

To proceed communities must also obtain the necessary permits and conduct a water source investigation to substantiate its proposal.  The community is responsible for all the initial costs of those studies, however, if the project proceeds Big Sky Pork will reimburse "all reasonable costs incurred."

The People's Choice
During the question and answer period conducted by chairman Wayne Black, Jack Maluga of Wynyard asked questions about the effect large scale hog operations have on land values.  Possberg said that he himself lives in close proximity to the barns near Humboldt and has noticed no change in land values in that area.  He also pointed to the cost of land in "feed lot lane" near Lethbridge, where land is now selling at a premium because of its prime location.  Maluga also presented some personal comments about health concerns associated with hog barns.  Later in the meeting the North East Hog Committee was complemented by other members of the Concerned Citizens Coalition on allowing open, orderly discussion for everyone.  The committee claims that other communities proposing barns have restricted speakers during their initial meetings.

Paulette Irvine expressed some concern about having a large scale hog barn in the area.  She asked Archerwill Mayor DuWayne Lupien if he would like a barn a mile out of town.  Although he was hesitant in his reply he indicated, "if the majority of the people were in favor of the barns why wouldn't I want it in the area?"

Archerwill Fire Chief Larry Christianson said he has lived in the community for 40 years and has endured a number of smells from nearby cattle operations and even the smell of the sloughs breaking up in the spring.  "Sure a person smells it but as far as I know it hasn't hurt anyone.  I think we should be more concerned about finding ways to create some local economic activity and find jobs for our young people," he told the crowd.

Larry Bjerland, the Mayor of Rose Valley, asked Possberg if Big Sky could guarantee that an operation of this scale wouldn't affect the aquifer that supplied the local communities.  Possberg says that Big Sky has several safeguards in place to ensure that doesn't happen.  It also relies on the information provided by engineers who are trained in water management, he stated.  "We think we are taking adequate precautions to protect the current and future water supply," he stated.  "However, as it is with anything, if you want to be 100 percent sure don't build a hog barn in your area."

Robert Whitehead of Yellow Quill First Nation said the local band has been battling at maintaining a safe water supply for its people over 30 years.  Yellow Quill is currently in the process of building a water treatment plant, which they hope will help, but he fact of the matter is that the water situation at the first nations community is in very grave condition.

"I am not opposed to the project, our band is supportive of economic development but we fear that a large scale hog barn could further impact the health of our people," Whitehead stated.  "We used to draw water out of the lake for drinking, we used to fish in there on a regular basis - now (because of development) we don't' have anything.  We are caught in a catch-22 situation - we want to be supportive of what the people want but we also have to ensure the safety of our people.  We have an aquifer that is supposed to last us for about 25 years.  What does your company do to stop pollutants from entering a community's water supply?"

Possberg said that Big Sky Pork is one of the few people that are putting on fertilizer according to the current regulated rates.  He also pointed to the fact that the barns are under constant scrutiny as a good reason that the company would do everything within its power to ensure that manure application did not impact the local water supply.

Elaine Hughes who lives a mile and a half out of Archerwill expressed concern about the impact the industry would have on the network of local roads.

"Your pamphlet says that you will give the local RM $25,000 a year for road maintenance - that doesn't seem like a lot of money in comparison to the amount of feed that will be hauled in or the number of hogs that will be hauled out.  How many patches of yellow lines on our highways do you think $25,000 will cover?  I want to know who pays these costs so we don't have to ride our horse to won (because of deteriorating roads)."

Possberg stated that Big Sky had done an analysis of RMs which had hog barns, and noted no mill rate increase because of rising road maintenance costs.  He also reminded those present that Big Sky Pork does pay taxes, both corporate and property, and therefore contributes just like any other ratepayer.

In response to a question by Janice Howden of Barrier Lake Resort, Possberg acknowledged that Big Sky does not pay taxes on its buildings, because they are exempted under the RM Act much like buildings owned by farmers.  "Whether that is (morally) right or not I don't know," he said, "but that is how it currently is."

The meeting concluded following more questions by interested parties.  The Archerwill meeting was followed by an evening meeting held in Rose Valley where several of the same concerns and comments were presented.  North East Hog representative DuWayne Lupien says the communities "still have a long way to go" to be anywhere near the required position to give the barns the final go-ahead.  "We have planned for a meeting after Easter and then we will do a lot of 'meeting with the people' on a one-to-one basis to make sure that the majority of people want to see the project proceed," he told The News.

Big Sky is currently looking at other projects in Pelly, MacNutt, Quill Lake and a second facility for Ogema.  Possberg indicated that the project would not proceed unless the communities involved could prove that there was adequate support and resources available to make it a worthwhile venture.  Possberg said that the Archerwill/Rose Valley project was originally slated for Tisdale, "but quite frankly there was not enough water or interest to make it feasible to building that area.  He said Quill Lake, who has been looking at the possibility of a hog-barn project for over two years, is "still in the very early stages."

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Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
April 21, 2003

7:30 pm
Home of Elaine Hughes - Archerwill, SK

A planning meeting was held at 7:30 p.m. on April 21, 2003 at the home of Elaine Hughes to decide what to do about opposing the hog barns.

In attendance were:  Jean & Raymond Hiron, June Prevost, Elaine Hughes.

About two hours was spent familiarizing ourselves with material we had received from friends in Wynyard and Kelvington areas who are also fighting the hog barns.

It was decided to telephone all the people we knew who are opposed to the hog barns to attend an informational meeting the following evening in the Committee Room in Archerwill Hall.

Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

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Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
April 22, 2003

7:00 pm
Archerwill Hall Committee Room - Archerwill, SK

An informational meeting was held at 7:00 p.m. on April 22, 2003 in the Archerwill Hall Committee Room.  It was a time to learn about the proposed pig barns to be set up in the Tisdale/Archerwill (Barrier Valley RM) and Rose Valley (Ponass Lake RM) area.  Chairman Raymond Hiron opened the meeting at 7:05 p.m. by welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming.  Thirty-four people signed the register.

Jean Hiron read some information about the negative impacts of mega hog barns.  She invited people to help themselves to the handouts and take note of the posted list of websites that people could use to inform themselves about these operations.  Using a geological map of Saskatchewan, Elaine Hughes pointed out the type of soil that most of the RM of Barrier Valley is composed of - it is glacial river deposits of gravel, sand and silt transported and deposited by glacial melt water.

The soil of all of the RM of Ponass Lake area is glacial deposits of till consisting of unsorted mixtures of boulders, gravel, sand, silt and clay deposited from glacial ice during periods of advance, retreat and stagnation.  Neither of these types of soil would seem suitable for receiving and cleansing the enormous amounts of raw liquid manure that the pig factories produce and spread on the land surrounding the barns.  There is grave concern for water contamination from surface runoff and seepage into the aquifers below.

We then listened to recorded speeches from the National Farmers' Union Meeting in November, 2002.  The first of these was made by Fred Tait, President of Hogwatch Manitoba.  He spoke about the hog barns in Manitoba, specifically those near Brandon where Maple Leaf is operating a huge meat packing plant.  His final comment was rural communities need to regain democratic control of their destiny from corporate companies.

John Ikerd, Agricultural Economist at the University of Missouri, then spoke of the industrialization of farms under corporate ownership.  He commented that people need to benefit from farming, but not at the expense of others.  We need to find ways to save our economy other than by corporations.

The final speaker was Lisa Bechtold, a young farmer's wife who lead the fight to stop Taiwan Sugar Company from building a mega hog operation near her home in Hardisty, Alberta.  She said she is in favour of saving family farms as they are true environmentalists; they want to keep the land, air wand water safe for the enxt generation.  Factory barns are supposed to be state of the art technology.  The Titanic was also state of the art technology!

A donation of $200.00 was gratefully received from Evie Lund from Kelvington.  A total of $37.00 was collected at the door, from which $20.00 was taken for rent of the Committee Room.  volunteers cam forward to help organize future meetings.  Raymond adjourned the meeting at 9:00 pm.

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Hog Barns and Gravel Prices Top the Council Discussions
Wadena News
April 23, 2003

Hog barns, APAS and gravel prices were the topic of discussion when Barrier Valley RM councillors heard from two delegations during a regular meeting on April 10.  Gene Rusk attended to discuss the 2003 gravel rates and Garfield Lutz spoke to council about the current direction of APAS and the proposed hog barn development.

A motion was made to indicate that the RM has no objections to the lessee of Crown Land, NE 36-40-13-W2 and NW 36-40-13-W2, making application to purchase such.

It was decided that the operator-maintenance personnel be instructed to order the required shank for the municipality’s stone ripper for the quote price of $369.

The administrator was instructed to advise the provincial government that the RM wishes to opt out of the Provincial Spring Road Restriction Program for 2003.

It was also agreed that the municipality would provide maintenance, as per request, to the streets within the Village of Archerwill for a fee of $65 per hour.

The proposed budget for 2003 was accepted as presented by the Reeve and Administrator.  The 2003 mill rate will be set at 17.25 mills, which is no increase over 2002.

Council accepted the price quotation submitted by the Archerwill Co-operative Association for the supply of the RM’s fuel requirements for the period May 1, 2003 to April 30, 2004.

The 2002 levy on trailers previously located at Barrier Beach will be cancelled, as the trailers were not there in 2002.  Included are tax roll numbers 6114, 6117, 6118, 6119, 6120 and 6121 with taxes totalling $371.37.

The municipality will send a letter supporting the Farmer’s Rail Car Coalition.

A policy was made that any division expenditures overspent in any given year will be taken off the next year’s budgeted allocation for that particular division.

The next regular meeting of council will be held May 8.

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Coming to an Area Near You
Tisdale Recorder
April 23, 2003

Dear Editor:

Apparently the site hasn’t been picked out yet but, if the current plans of a local hog operation become reality, there will be an Intensive Livestock Operation near you.  We know it will be “somewhere in this area”; somewhere in the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake.  For an operation made up of 5,000 sows, producing 2,6000 piglets every week, in five barns, chances are good that one or more of these barns will be near each and every one of us.

If this happens, will we have to forget about enjoying simple summertime activities such as sitting on our decks, or working outside in our years or driving down the road with our car windows open, or even opening our windows at night to cool off our houses?  In this area, the prevailing winds are from the northwest but, sometimes, the wind blows from other directions.  The putrid stench and toxic fumes from the hog manure of these operations will therefore reach all of us.  Do we want this in our air?

This area is situated on top of glacial deposits made up of gravel, sand and silt with random and limited deposits of clay.  We all know this: water passes quickly though gravel and sand, and through clay more slowly.  But, eventually and inevitably, just like rain or melted snow, it all does pass through – directly or indirectly – into the underground water table and onwards into our lakes, rivers and wells.

The proposed mega hog operation for “somewhere in this area” calls for extracting “50-55 million gallons (every year) of our drinking water from this water table and turning it into “40 million gallons (every year) of liquid manure.  This manure is “managed” by spreading it on or working it into nearby fields – in reasonable amounts, as beneficial fertilizer.

However, the short list of what this manure will contain looks something like this: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium (common in all manure); toxic and health-threatening elements such as cadmium, zinc and copper, finally, disease-bearing bacteria from sick “deads” – an acceptably mortality rate for piglets is approximately 3.5% per cycle.  The bacteria which caused them to die is at risk of being resistant to the antibiotics given to animals living under concentrated and restricted conditions to keep them healthy and to make them grow faster so that they get to market sooner.  These antibiotics are the same ones many of us may need during our lifetime to make us well.  However, if the bacteria making us sick are resistant to the antibiotics given to us (and there are only about a dozen antibiotics available in the entire world) – how will we get well?  Do we want this in our water?

Everything that we put into our air and water ends up – eventually – in our bodes, either to nourish us or make us ill.  We do not know the long-term effects of these waste materials on our health, or on the health of future generations.  For this, we need the results of an independent Environmental Impact Study – a study not required by the current provincial government before they issue a permit to these operators.  We need this information before the barns are built, before we end up as another health-environmental story on the news.  Haven’t there been enough of these disasters?

As an alternative to these corporate factories, can we not continue to look for and continue to develop viable and sustainable ways of livestock production that promote environmental, human and animal health – not destroy it?  As an alternative to the lure of a quick-fix to our economic situation can we not care enough about this beautiful province to think about what we are doing?  Do we really want this in our area?

Elaine Hughes
Archerwill, SK

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Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
April 24, 2003

An organizational meeting was held at 10:00 a.m. on April 24, 2003 at the home of Jean and Raymond Hiron.  Those present:  Jean & Raymond Hiron, Sharleen Syrenne, Lynne Prevost, Elaine Hughes, June Prevost, Gerald Hiron, Cheryl Hurion. 

Elaine Hughes made a motion that Lynne Prevost continue as Secretary/Treasurer and that she open an account in either St. Front or Rose Valley Credit Union, with Sharleen Syrenne as second signature.  It was decided to call the group STOP the HOGS Coalition.  June Prevost seconded and all in favour. Also, she should get a receipt book and send one to Evie Lund for her generous donation of $200.00.

It was decided that we hold a public information meeting on April 28, 2003 in Archerwill, inviting the Councillors from both RMs, representatives from North East Hogs/Big Sky Hogs, and try to get some special speakers.  The phoning committee consists of Elaine, June, Cheryl and Jean.  Sandra Lowndes is invited to attend and tell of her personal experience with hog barns. 

Lynne phoned Rose Valley lawyer, Roderick Gall, to find out what legalities we need on a petition.  Suggestions for the wording of the petition have been collected and we will try to make one to suit our needs.

It was suggested that we prepare a printed mail drop for next week that would point out 10 reasons why we are against the hog barns.  We also have to decide upon a chairperson to conduct our meetings.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.

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Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
April 27, 2003

1:00 pm
Lynne's Crafty House - St. Front, SK

Meeting was held at 1:00 p.m. on April 27, 2003 at Lynne's Crafty House in St. Front.

A checklist was reviewed to see if everything was ready for tomorrow evening's meeting.  The petitions to oppose all Intensive Livestock Operations in the individual RMs were drawn up, ready for signature at the public meeting in Archerwill tomorrow evening.  A handout setting out 20 information tidbits taken from various research sources was also prepared and photocopied.  Sharleen will chair tomorrow's meeting and will prepare an agenda.  The names of the speakers will be included.  The media has also been asked to attend.

The amount of information is rapidly increasing and although we have not yet had time to absorb it all, it's important that we share what we have with others as quickly as possible.  It all covers the enormous harmful effects from the mega hog operations on both the environment and the health of people working in or living near these factories.

It was decided that cheques given as donations should be made out to STOP the HOGS Coalition and receipts given.  Cheques of $200.00 each were received from Gerald & Susan Hiron and Raymond & Jean Hiron.

We would also like to note that we are not the C.A.V.E. people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) -- a definition used by Mr. Possberg of Big Sky Hogs.  We are C.A.R.E. people (Citizens Against Ruining Environment).

Meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

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Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
April 28, 2003

The second Informational Meeting of the Coalition was held on April 28, 2003 in the Archerwill Hall. 

Chairperson Sharleen Syrenne called the assembly to order at 7:15 p.m. She began by requesting that respect be shown for either side of the issue, with no shouting, name-calling or other disruptions. 

She introduced the members of the Pro-panel (DuWayne Lupien – Mayor of Archerwill, President of Double “L” Welding and President of North East Hogs; Larry Kozar – local farmer and member of North East Hogs Committee; Robin Rustad and Allan Nelson – Councillors of the RM of Ponass Lake and members of North East Hogs Committee).  She then introduced the members of the Con-panel (Ken Sigurdson – Manitoba farmer and member of Hogwatch Manitoba; Marilyn Gillis – organic farmer from Wynyard currently involved in the struggle against the hog barns in the Quill Lakes area; Sandra Lowndes, Kelvington farmer who was instrumental in the successful struggle against the hog barns in her area; Jean Hurion, organic hog producer from the RM of Ponass Lake and member of STOP the HOGS Coalition.  Secretary/Treasurer is Lynne Prevost, farmer from the RM of Ponass Lake and member of STOP the HOGS Coalition.

Jean Hiron briefly discussed 10 reasons why we are against the mega hog barns.  She also read a memo from SGI stating that they will not insure any farmer who accepts the raw liquid hog manure from the mega hog barns on his land and is subsequently found liable for damages by neighbours.

Larry Kozar stated that there are 4 possible sites in the Barrier Valley area, some of which have been rejected while they are still looking at others.  He said that he is unclear about the opposition to the hog barns.  Last year, he had approached the Village, the RM Councillors, and the School Board, receiving favourable responses to the proposal.  As the Tisdale area sites didn’t work out, he had suggested that they move further south to the Archerwill/Rose Valley area.  There would be a site for a feed mill (4 employed), 3 feeder barns (16 employed), 1 nursery & farrowing barn (23 employed) for a total of 43 jobs.

Sandra Lowndes read her University degree thesis on the ill effects of hog barns.  She also gave an account of the personal things in the fight against the barns set up by Kelvington.  She covered the water contamination issue, indicating that the effluent eventually gets into our water systems and that once nitrates are detected in your well water, it’s too late.  While her farm is 4 miles north of Kelvington pig barns and she doesn’t always notice the smell, one of her friends lives 7 miles west of those same barns and she always smells the barns.  She pointed out that 70% of the workers in these barns have respiratory problems, usually chronic bronchitis.  She feels that these projects are a cruel and embarrassing way to raise animals and that the barns displace family farms.  She noted that, because she opposed the hog barns, she was threatened, harassed, slandered and had machinery vandalized.  She concluded by saying:  “You will learn things about your friends and neighbours that you wished you never knew.”

Next, Marilyn Gillis recounted how she became involved in the fight against the pig factories when Big Sky came to Quill Lake just before Christmas, wanting to set up 5 barns in the area.  She said that they always seem to hit the busiest times of the year.  She feels very disappointed in our current government because they have sold out to Industrialized Agriculture.  There are sustainable ways of earning a good living raising livestock.  She noted that Foam Lake, which recently successfully defeated the hog barn project for that area, now has a food processing plant using naturally raised animals.

Guest speaker, Ken Sigurdson, a grain farmer who has land in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, spoke of his experience with the hog barns in his area near Swan River.  He said that Big Sky is placing the RM Councillors in conflict of interest positions and that hog barns are sold on three things:  market for local feed grain, jobs, and free fertilizer. 

Jobs:  hard work (example:  the Manager says “today you castrate 300 pigs.”), local experience, $8.00 per hour, limited:  in a feeder operation, 1 or 2 men can turn out 30,000 hogs a year; immigrant workers are being brought in on a two-year work permit:  “If you don’t want to work at Maple Leaf Packing Plant, you get a trip back to Mexico.”  He told the meeting that he has a plan for his children and it doesn’t involve them working in a Maple Leaf Plant or an Elite Swine Hog Barn.  Do we want these kinds of jobs for our kids?  I don’t think so.

Sale of local feed grain:  subsidized US corn coming into Manitoba will always limit feed grain prices.  Agriculture Economists Kraft and Rude, in a presentation to the Manitoba Ethanol Panel, concluded:  “Corn imports will keep feed grain prices stable to lower.”  Marcel Haucault, Pork Council, is complaining about how much more it was costing him because of the short-lived corn countervails.

Free Fertilizer:  it results in over-application of phosphorus with numerous pathogens and heavy metals such as copper, zinc and molybdenum, plus antibiotics.  Also there is a concern for the impact on soils and crops of the excess salt in hog rations (added to make them drink more and grow faster).  As regulations become more stringent because of the problems ILOs are creating, the landowner will ultimately be responsible for the nutrients on his or her land and for over-application of these nutrients. The liability for this manure will fall to the landowner.

He said that Dr. John Ikerd, an Agricultural Economist from the University of Missouri, is correct in saying that corporations are taking agriculture away from the farmers and giving it to big business.  As a result of witnessing events in other areas, he had the following comments:

1)      RMs should demand adequate funding from the operations to maintain the roads;

2)      RMs should get a bond from Big Sky to clean up when barns are closed;

3)      This is major Industrialized Agriculture – not farming;

4)      Big Sky is rushing to set up more barns in Manitoba and Saskatchewan when other areas are saying “NO” to mega hog operations;

5)      RMs should be able to set bylaws as they want and not let the government take that away from them;

6)      The loss of the Crow Rate was the worst thing to happen to rural people.

During the coffee break, people were encouraged to take handouts home to read and share with their friends and neighbours, and to also sign their respective Petitions to stop the proposed hog barns in their RM.

The Question and Answer period followed.

Q.  What happens with the manure when there’s a wet fall?

A.  Brad Cramer indicated that there is storage for 400 days’ manure.  It is injected into the soil 3 times a year:  spring, summer and fall.

Frank Lipinski stated that he lives one-half mile from Zagrodney’s chicken barns. The only time they smell the chicken barns is for a few days in the fall when the barns are cleaned and the manure is spread on the field.  In a few days, the smell is gone.  But, on the other hand, they can smell the big pig barns by Kelvington when conditions are right – ten and one-half miles away!

Greg Maslin told the meeting that he worked at the Star City 600-sow, farrow-to-finish hog barn for 3 years.  He felt that the working conditions were not that big of a problem.  He said that wearing of masks is now mandatory but ear protection is still an option.

Bruce Irvine told the meeting that he had moved into this area to get away from the stink of the hog barns in the Spalding area.  He said, “I moved my house once – I can move it again – but I won’t live where I have to smell hog manure!”

The Chairperson thanked all who attended and participated.  The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

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Can't Make Up Your Mind About Pig Factories?
Letter to the Editor
East Central Connection
May 2, 2003

Dear Editor;

Most industry in this country is constantly scrutinized and some is even punished for spills and pollution of our water, land and air.  This was a long time in coming.  But, there appears to be a huge gap between the risks which ILOs (Intensive Livestock Operations) present to human and environmental health, and what the federal and provincial governments are actually doing to control and alleviate those risks.  In October, 2002, Environmental Defence Canada, a national, charitable organization (not a government department) released a report entitled:  It’s Hitting the Fan:  The Unchecked Growth of Factory Farms in Canada. In this report, they call for a national moratorium on all Factory Farms until the federal government has established standards that protect our health and the environment, and until the provincial governments are forced to implement these standards. 

In the meantime, it appears that the industry, and each individual provincial government, has been left on its own to operate as it sees fit, with revenue as the main focus.  The concerns about the negative impact of this industry remain, for the most part, unaddressed.  Is this what it’s like to be a third-world country where the big, powerful problem-solvers parachute in, hustle about ‘improving’ the lives of the locals, and then, in a few years, take the money they’ve squeezed out of the resources and go home?

Some of the negative aspects of the pig factories are:

AIR:  While in storage in huge, outdoor lagoons (cesspools), manure from ILOs emits toxic gases such as ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and methane.  Common health problems associated with these gases are:  respiratory problems (asthma), headaches, sore throats, excessive coughing, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, burning eyes, depression, and fatigue.

WATER:  All manure storage facilities leak, even concrete ones.  Through spills and leaks occurring during storage or transport and through runoff during heavy rain or melting snow, contaminants in the manure, such as nitrates and phosphorus, enter the underground water sources.  As the level of these contaminants in the water increases, the level of oxygen in the water decreases, algae forms and suffocates the fish and the fish die!  It is believed that commercial fishing on Lake Winnipeg is now threatened by the runoff of excess nutrients (contaminants) entering the water sources.

SOIL:  Correctly applied, manure makes good fertilizer.  If too much manure is applied to the soil, and if the plants don’t use it all up, the leftover nitrate and phosphorus run off into nearby streams and rivers, and affect water sources.  Also, excess nitrogen can evaporate as ammonia, combine with the sulphur already in the air, and be deposited on the soil as acid rain - which kills trees and plants!

Trace amounts of disease-causing heavy metals (such as copper, zinc, cadmium, molybdenum, nickel, lead, iron, manganese and boron) are added to hog food to promote growth and prevent disease.  These elements can pass through the animals, accumulate, and settle to the bottom of manure lagoons until the manure is applied to the soil, accidentally spilled, or the site is abandoned.  (Is it actually possible that corporate hog operators are not required to post bond to pay for cleanup in the event of these spills?  That the rural municipalities (ratepayers) are left with the cost of cleaning up these abandoned sites?)

ANIMAL WELFARE:  Hogs produced in factories are confined for most of their lives in narrow stalls - 2 feet by 7 feet - metal-barred with a slatted concrete floor without bedding and no room to turn around or clean themselves.  Sows are forced into pregnancy over and over until they are worn out and then, having served their purpose to produce many piglets, are slaughtered.  Numerous organizations consider the conditions under which these animals are raised to be cruel and inhumane, and a serious risk to human health.  Densely populated confinement barns increase the potential for rapid spread of disease.  In an attempt to ward off disease, livestock diets are supplemented with additional nutrients (recycled animal offal?), heavy metals and generous amounts of antibiotics.  Many of these additives pass through the animal into the manure and onto the land; once spread on the soil, these antibiotics reach our water systems through runoff.

HUMAN HEALTH:  In many cases, the quality of life for people who live near these ILOs is negatively affected.  Residents cannot open their windows due to the odours emitted from the manure in the barns and storage lagoons.  People who live adjacent to these pig factories have an increased occurrence of depression, tension, anger and fatigue, as well as increased incidence of illness including respiratory problems such as asthma.  In July, 2002, one Saskatchewan couple was hospitalized with headaches and breathing problems due to inhaling hydrogen sulphide from a nearby 17,000 hog operation.  Workers in confinement barns and manure pits often have health problems from extended exposure to the ammonia and other toxic fumes given off by the raw manure.  Many must leave these meaningless, dangerous jobs due to health problems.  The high level of manure carried into our drinking water supplies may increase the incidence of miscarriage and ‘blue baby syndrome’ - babies born with poorly developed heart valves.  Bacteria often occurs in manure from sick animals which, upon reaching the water supplies, potentially spread disease to other livestock, wildlife and humans (such as in ‘mad cow disease’…..  hmmm, I wonder how big a leap it would be to ‘mad hog disease’ or ‘mad chicken disease’?).  Crossing this interspecies barrier and forcing animals into cannibalism can’t be what food production (formerly known as farming) is all about!)

….still can’t make up your mind about the pig factories?

Elaine Hughes
Archerwill, SK 

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Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley
Municipal Office, Archerwill, Saskatchewan
May 7, 2003
As Recorded by the RM

Reeve:  Quentin Hanson
Councillors:  Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, Dennis Brown
Administrator:  Fern Lucas.

:  Brad Cramer, Lynn Gruending and Wayne Jones.

Reeve Hanson called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m.

WAIVE NOTICE OF MEETING – THOMPSON:  That notice of this meeting be waived.  CARRIED.


  • 10:30 a.m. – Elaine Hughes and Perry Hnetka re Intensive Livestock Operations

  • 1:00 p.m. – George Blair of Redhead Equipment Ltd.

  • 1:10 p.m. – Alex Brown of Kramer Tractor Ltd.

MINUTES – BROWN:  That the minutes of the regular meeting of council held in the municipal office in Archerwill on April 10th, 2003 be approved.  CARRIED.

STATEMENT OF RECEIPTS & PAYMENTS – THOMPSON:  That the Statement of Receipts and payments for the month of April, 2003 be accepted as presented.  CARRIED.

ACCOUNTS – BROWN:  That the accounts, as listed and attached to, and forming part of these minutes, in amount of $30,664.89, covered by cheque numbers 2387-2410 inclusive, be approved for payment.  CARRIED.

GOPHER APPLICATOR – BRAATEN:  That we investigate purchasing a gopher applicator for use by our ratepayers.  A $25.00 refundable deposit shall be made when the applicator leaves the office.  If the applicator is returned to office in good condition within 3 days, the deposit shall be refunded.  CARRIED.

RMAA CONVENTION – BROWN:  That the administrator be authorized to attend the Rural Municipal Administrators convention to be held in Saskatoon on May 12 – 15th, 2003, and that the office be closed during that time.  CARRIED.

FIRE SUPPRESSION ASSISTANCE – HANSON:  That, as per request by SERM, we notify them of the officials that have the authority to request fire suppression assistance on behalf of this Rural Municipality: Reeve Quentin Hanson, Deputy Reeve Keith Braaten, Fire Chief Larry Christianson, Deputy Fire Chief Garry Schweitzer.  CARRIED.

SASK. MUN. HAIL INS. WITHDRAWALS – BRAATEN:  That we accept the withdrawals of lands under Saskatchewan Municipal Hail Insurance as submitted.  CARRIED.

PERMIT TO HAUL – THOMPSON:  That the request for a permit to haul be granted to Tri Star Transport Ltd.  CARRIED.

SCHOOL DIV. MILL RATES – THOMPSON:  That we acknowledge receipt of the 2003 school mill rates as follows:

  • Tiger Lily – 18.86 (up .50)

  • Tisdale – 17.11 (up .61)

  • Wadena – 19.76 (up .76)


CORRESPONDENCE – BRAATEN:  That the correspondence, as listed and attached to and forming part of these minutes, having been copied and distributed, now be filed.  CARRIED.

ADJOURN – BRAATEN:  That this meeting adjourn at 3:30 p.m.  The next regular meeting of council to be June 12, 2003.  CARRIED.

Presented to council this 12 day of June, 2003.

Signed by Reeve and Administrator.


  • Elaine Hughes re Hog Barns

  • Tisdale Lions club re Farmer’s Golf Tournament Thursday, July 10, 2003

  • SARM update

  • Kathy Karn re Hog Barns

  • A letter signed by 13 concerned ratepayers from Revoy’s Marina expressing concern over the development of Hog Barns (ILOs) in this municipality.

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Letter to the Editor
Wadena News
May 7, 2003

A large crowd attended the Mega Hog Barn meeting in Archerwill on April 28 with speakers for and against.  Everyone was welcome to attend, to ask questions and to give their input.  It was a good idea to have an open meeting as mega hog barns don’t just affect the ratepayers of the rural municipalities, they also affect the neighbours, the upkeep of the roads, the surrounding RMs and towns.

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Hogs Will Hurt Community
Wadena News
May 28, 2003

Dear Editor:

Hi, I just read in the Wadena News about the proposed “Big Hog Barn.”  The letter to the Editor by Mrs. Elaine Hughes is about as informative as anything I have read so far about big livestock operations.  Elaine gives your readers just about all the facts.  I just like to add that in Ontario the Walkerton area has some very big livestock operators.  I am sure your readers will remember the problems Walkerton faced, due to their water contamination.  It looks to me that the local water table will be affected, and will most likely drop.  The hog waste will replace the void left by the lowering of the water table and could in effect contaminate the ground water.

I personally was in the market for a home in the country near Guelph Ont, the price was right and so was the location.  We made several trips, all in cool spring evenings. We choose a warm sunny Sunday to show the place to some of our relatives.  Well, the smell from a local small pork producer was so strong that in effect we counted ourselves lucky making that Sunday trip.

In conclusion, I hope the Archerwill residents will think about it carefully.  The least they can expect is a reduction in property value and a reduction in the town population.  This again will lead to an increase in property taxes as only a very few people will reside in the area who need to support the town expenses.  I know the town and surrounding area, and attend some find get-togethers in the local area.  I read the Wadena News from time to time, which Grayce shares with me.  I wish you luck in maintaining your rural environment.

Harald Matthiessen
Oakville, On

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Communities Must Consider Risks
Wadena News
May 2003

Dear Editor:

On a drive north to Archerwill on a bright spring day recently, to attend a meeting that was called to discuss mega hog development, I was thinking of comments made by Dr. William Weida, a retired professor of economics from Idaho.  (The North East Hog committee that had investigated the possibility of establishing a 5,000-sow operation in the Tisdale area last year has shifted their focus to the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake.)

Dr. Weida was in Saskatchewan this winter, speaking on mega hog development at community meetings in Watson, Foam Lake, Lintlaw and Churchbridge.  His view is that if communities decide they want to attract large-scale factory farms, they must also be prepared to give something up.  In other words, the jobs created from these operations come at a cost in other areas.

I was thinking of the natural beauty of north-eastern Saskatchewan, and the economic benefits from tourism at Barrier Lake, Greenwater Provincial Park and Kipabiskau Regional Park.  Would that be in jeopardy? Or what about the tourism income from activities such as snowmobiling and hunting – would that be affected?

Those are just some of the questions that communities must ask themselves as part of the decision-making process.  You already have so many positive things going for you in that part of the province – it would be a shame to spoil them.

Jack Maluga
Wynyard, SK

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Rural Group Discusses Mega Hog Issue With Serby, Belanger
By Jack Maluga
June 6, 2003

Numerous concerns and recommendations relating to mega hog operations were presented during a recent meeting between a group of rural residents and two provincial cabinet ministers in Regina.

A delegation of 16 rural residents from nine east-central and north-eastern rural municipalities met with Agriculture Minister,  Clay Serby and Environment Minister, Buckley Belanger on May 14th at the Legislature. The rural delegation included farmers from the Quill Lake-Watson, Wynyard, Foam Lake-Sheho, Rama, Churchbridge, Archerwill-Rose Valley, Porcupine Plain and Whitewood regions. Most of the areas have been chosen as locations for mega hog expansion, or have existing operations.

Typical industrial hog operations under construction in Saskatchewan are 5,000 sow production units. They consist of five huge barns, holding approximately 65,000 hogs, as well as a smaller boar barn. According to the developers, they use 50 million gallons of water and generate 40 million gallons of liquid manure annually. 

Issues raised at the meeting ranged from environmental concerns; to divisive effects on communities; to the implications factory farms will have on family farms.  Mr. Serby was told that small-scale hog production is as economically viable as mega farms, but due to the government's promotion of large-scale operations, small-scale operators are disappearing.  

The ministers were informed a mega hog operation is being developed in an area internationally recognized for its diverse bird-habitat – the Quill Lakes.  Each year the Quill Lakes are used by nearly one million birds - they are also a seasonal home to more than 150,000 shorebirds including the endangered Piping Plover. The towns of Wynyard, Wadena and Foam Lake have been actively promoting birding projects in the area in an attempt to attract tourists.

Mr. Serby was reminded that tourism should also play an important part in his rural revitalization plans. It was pointed out to Mr. Belanger that concerns over chemical changes to Big Quill Lake resulted in a full-scale environmental impact assessment being done when a potassium sulphate plant was built on the south shore of the lake in the 1980's – however, mega hog operations in Saskatchewan have not yet had to undergo such an assessment. 

Environmental concerns were also an important issue in the Whitewood area where a mega hog operation near the Scissors Creek received provincial approval this spring. Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food have promised a two-foot dyke will be built around the barn sites, but the potential for trouble if a manure spill occurs and it reaches the Qu'Appelle River was raised. Mr. Serby was asked to put a hold on construction until the site was re-assessed. The cabinet ministers were told that approximately 15 families live in the proximity of the proposed hog barns - some of which have plaques recognizing the fact the land has been in their families for 100 years. 

The delegation from the Churchbridge-Langenburg area told Mr. Serby the RM of Churchbridge had paid thousands of dollars for testing for suitable sites for barns without the consent of their ratepayers and the RM would only be repaid if the hog project went ahead. 

Concern was also expressed that a pilot project currently underway by the provincial government and SARM could take approval of intensive livestock operations out of the hands of municipalities. Mr. Serby and Belanger were told that a mega hog project was not compatible with plans for attracting tourism to a proposed mineral spa in the Langenburg area. 

Representatives from the Foam Lake-Sheho area outlined the series of events that took place in the RM of Foam Lake last winter, where a mega hog project was turned down. They expressed concerns that mega hog industry officials sit on committees that make decisions on how their industry is regulated. There are no guarantees that the public's interests and concerns are addressed, the Foam Lake group said.  Industrial farming is not economic growth, but destruction of a way of life, the delegation stated. 

Mr. Belanger was asked why piezometer readings around earthen hog lagoons in Rama (which measure possible leakage) are not available to the public, or even to environment department officials. "The government sets them up (mega hog operations) and then they regulate themselves," one farmer commented. 

The Archerwill-Rose Valley delegation discussed a proposed 5,000-sow hog operation in the RMs of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake. They were concerned that a questionnaire circulated at an informational meeting held April 9th in Archerwill and Rose Valley was taken as an indication the public welcomed the project. However, residents of the northern half of the RM of Barrier Valley, closest to Tisdale, received no notice of the meetings at all. Local residents have since formed a "Stop The Hogs Coalition" and petitions are being circulated against the project in both RMs. A plebiscite in the RM of Ponass Lake has been sent out to ratepayers and must be returned by June 30th. 

Mr. Serby was asked to leave the business of raising livestock to the farmers of Saskatchewan. "Farmers are a versatile bunch, but family farms can't compete with corporate farms - especially those funded by government money. With pork prices as low as they are, these corporations are losing money, and yet they plan to expand," a Rose Valley area resident said.  With the federal government suggesting farmers will have to prepare individual environmental farm plans by the year 2008, Mr. Serby was asked why his government was encouraging the unprecedented growth of the mega hog industry - an industry whose environmental practices will soon be outdated, if not outlawed. 

That issue was also raised by the delegation from Watson-Quill Lake, which asked Mr. Serby to put a hold on the hog development in their RM until new technology such as bio-digesters are available. The digesters, which are used in Europe and on at least one Alberta Hutterite colony, remove methane gas from manure and convert it to electricity. Water can be re-used, and only a small amount of concentrated manure remains. However, their arguments failed to sway Mr. Serby, who said Saskatchewan currently raises fewer cattle than Alberta and fewer hogs than Manitoba.  At one point during the meeting he interjected,  "You're all telling me the same thing, and I've heard these arguments before." 

Mr. Belanger stated his department is not being pressured by Sask Agriculture to approve sites that shouldn't be developed. He said they act independently of Mr. Serby's department.

Jack Maluga

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Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Council of the RM of Barrier Valley
June 12, 2003
As Recorded by the RM of Barrier Valley

Reeve: Quentin Hanson; 
Councilors: Brad Cramer, Bruce Thompson, Keith Braaten, and Dennis Brown;
Administrator: Fern Lucas

Councilors Wayne Jones and Lynn Gruending.

Call To Order:
Reeve Hanson called the meeting to order at 9:00 am

10:00 am
Elaine Hughes, Perry Hnetka, Audrey Hnetka, Adam Hnetka, Darlene Guest, Wilfred Guest, Dwayne Sharpen, Geln Angus re proposed hog development.

1:30 pm
Gene Rusk re gravel.
DuWayne Lupien re fire proteciton services


Thompson: That the minutes of the regular meeting of council held in the municipal office in Archerwill on May 7, 2003 be approved.

Statement of Receipts & Payments

Braaten: That the Statement of Receipts and Payments for the month of May 2003 be accepted as presented.


Brown: That the accounts, as listed and attached to, and forming part of these minutes, in amount of $69,165.41 covered by cheque numbers 2411-2459 inclusive be approved for payment.

Fire Hall

Brown: That we turn our existing structure that presently houses the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley fire truck, over to the Village of Archerwill, and assume a 50% share of the building presently owned by the Village of Archerwill, situated on Lot A, Block 4, Plan BV2368 in the Village of Archerwill.

CP Rail Spur Line

Brown: That the property owned by the Rural Municipality No. 397, described as a portion of the NE 19-40-13 W2 being 3.56 acres, for Right of Way of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company on Plan BK6250, and a portion of the SE 19-40-13 W2 being 4.42 acres, for Right of Way of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company on Plan BK6250, being abandoned CP rail spur line, be returned to the respective quarters of land that it was originally removed from, and that the cost attributed to transferring the said property be the responsibility of the land owners of the two quarters of land involved.

Tender T.T.P.

Hanson: That the property described as Parcel L, a portion of SE 13-42-15 W2, be advertised for sale by tender.  Tenders to be received by August 14, 2003..

Tax Enforcement

Brown: That the Administrator be instructed to register Provincial Mediation Board consent on the following properties, and then proceed to make final application for title on the said properties under direction of the Tax Enforcement Act:
NE -40-13 W2; NW 20-40-13 W2; NW 09-42-14 W2,
Lots 1 and 2, Block 1 Plan AX1293 McKague;
Lot 18, Block 1, Plan BV1465 McKague
Lots 3 and 4, Block 5 Plan CS592 McKague;
Lot 4, Block 6 Plan CU2434 McKague
Lot 11, 12, and 17, Block 1 Plan BV1465 McKague
Lot 9, Block 3 Plan 65H08700 Algrove
Lots 1, 2 and 8, Block 3 Plan 65H087000 Algrove
Lot 7, Block 3 Plan 65H08700 Algrove
Lot 4, Block 3 Plan 65H08700 Algrove

Barrier Hill Ditch Slope

Brown: That the municipality proceed with improving the ditch and slope area of the road located East of SE 21-41-13 W2.

Petition Re ILOs

Hanson: That we acknowledge receipt of a petition presented to council by Perry Hnetka, expressing objection to the establishment of a mega hog operation or any other intensive livestock operation in the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley No. 397.


Brown: That the following requests for holidays be granted to the said employees:  Fern Lucas - July 7 to July 25, 2003; Garry Schweitzer - July 28 to August 1 and August 18 to August 29, 2003..


Braaten: That the correspondence, as listed and attached to and forming part of these minutes, having been copied and distributed, now be filed.


Brown: That this meeting adjourn at 5:00 pm.  The next regular meeting of council to be August 14, 2003.

Correspondence as Copied and Distributed to Council
June 12, 2003

  • Elaine Hughes re Hog Barns
  • Metis Nation re Basic Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
  • Tisdale Lion's Club re farmers
  • Farmers of North America re fuel prices
  • Ken Johnston Rose Valley RCMP re invite to ride along
  • Commission of Financing Education re identifying options for change

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Getting Ready for Your Summer Vacation
Letter to the Editor
Wadena News
June 18, 2003

Dear Editor:

While we are all waiting for the pig factory sites ‘somewhere in the RM of Barrier Valley or Ponass Lake” to be revealed, here are some things you might want to look after before you go on vacation this summer:

Number One:  If you are the least suspicious (unexplained soil testing, etc.) that a site for a pig factory has been chosen any where near your land or your home, now is the time to have them appraised by a competent property appraiser.  Once the pig factories are built and in operation, people in similar circumstances in other areas have had difficulty selling their land, usually having to settle for less than the assessed value.  By having your property assessed before the facilities are built, you will have legal recourse against the pig factory to make up for your financial loss. 

As the number of facilities increases in an area, more and more local residents sell out and move away, which allows for even more pig factories to move in with less and less resistance.  This proliferation increases the pollution to the land, air and water until the entire area is irreversibly contaminated and unfit for occupation.   The current federal and provincial governments do not require an independent Environmental Impact Assessment for these facilities - we have no way of knowing what the short or long term effects of the manure and fumes are on the environment, the animals, or the people involved.  “In the case of Tyndall, Manitoba, the groundwater problem is now considered irremediable.   Yet, there are intensive swine operations now proposed for this same area.  We learn nothing from the warning signs.”  (Dr. E. Pip, University of Manitoba, December 2000)   Nor do the current federal or provincial governments require the pig factories to post bond for site clean-up before they abandon them.  The few remaining residents, or their grandchildren, are left with this enormous expense for years to come. 

Number Two:  Again, if you are the least bit suspicious about any unusual activity in your community (soil testing, for example)), get your drinking water, and that of your livestock tested.  You can pick up the mailing containers from your R.M. office or from the Public Health Inspector's office in Melfort.  You will then have a record of the quality of your drinking water before the pig factory is built and will have legal recourse when it becomes contaminated. 

And, if you sign an agreement with the pig factories to receive their liquid manure on your land, please note that SGI CANADA Comprehensive Farmers Liability Pollution Exclusion states:  “This insurance does not apply to ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged, potential or threatened spill, discharge, emission, dispersal, seepage, leakage, migration, release or escape of pollutants into or upon land, the atmosphere or any water of any description no matter where located or how contained or into any watercourse, drainage or sewage system.  ‘Pollutants’ means any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, odour, vapour, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis chemicals and waste.  Waste includes material to be recycled, reconditioned or reclaimed.”  (Agro Pack Booklet AP-10).  In other words, you will be legally responsible to your neighbour for contaminating his water source.  Unless, of course, you have it in writing that the hog operator/owner will accept such liability......

Number Three:  Nowadays, people expect to live longer, healthier lives.  They are becoming better informed about the health risks involved in eating food contaminated with commonly-used pollutants, and are actively seeking sources of ‘clean’ organically-grown food.  By supporting local farmers (not factories) who have cleaned up their land and are producing food without chemicals, antibiotics, or other harmful additives, we can begin to put the emphasis back on healthy people eating healthy food and living in a healthy environment. 

Have a safe and healthy summer.   (Make my barbequed pork chop without the antibiotic, please……)

Elaine Hughes
Archerwill, Sask.

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Minutes of the "STOP the HOGS Coalition"
June 22, 2003

2:00 pm
The Hut - Sylvania, SK

The meeting was brought to order shortly after 2:00 p.m. and those in attendance introduced themselves to the meeting, stating their name and where they live. 

NEW BUSINESS:            Elaine Hughes informed the group of the first North East Hog Committee meeting that took place in Archerwill on April 09, 2003.  At this meeting, (approximately 12 people who are against the proposed mega hog barn were in attendance) everyone was given an informational package and encouraged to fill out a questionnaire, indicating whether they were ‘for’ or ‘against’ the proposed hog barn.  The results of this questionnaire were then published in the next Wadena News as a ‘green light’ for the project to proceed.  No one was informed that this would be considered a vote of any kind, nor was it advertised as such.

After this meeting, the STOP the HOGS Coalition was formed to try to prevent the proposal from going ahead.  The coalition consists of the RMs of Barrier Valley & Ponass Lake.

At this time, Elaine Hughes suggested that it might be a good idea for people to have their water, land & buildings assessed, before the barns are built.  Because of the stink and potential for water pollution, land values are known to decline in areas surrounding mega hog barns.  Waste management was discussed as well as liability – SGI and Portage Mutual Insurance, for example, will not protect farmers against liability if they agree to have the liquid manure spread on their land and it ends up polluting a neighbour’s well. 

The video “Pig Picture” was viewed and gave the group some insight as to what and how these intensive livestock operations operate.

Charlene Syrenne was then called upon to inform people of the situation in the RM of Ponass Lake.  Following that first meeting on April 9, residents from both RMs organized two public meetings, with guest speakers and also members of the North East Hogs group attending.  Ponass Lake residents then circulated and signed the Petition asking for no ILOs in their area; it was presented to their Council on May 8.  In response, their Council sent out their own questionnaire – an ‘expression of public interest’ – which is to be returned to the RM office by June 30.  She feels that if we join together into a larger group, we will have a bigger voice.

Elaine Hughes informed the group that, at the RM of Barrier Valley Council Meeting on June 12, eight Coalition delegates presented a petition with 192 names on it, stating:  “we do not want any ILOs in the RM”.   Reeve Quentin Hanson indicated that, since this was only 25% of the ratepayers of the RM, it was not sufficient to stop the proposal for the pig barns - there are too many people in the RM who are in favour of them.  At a follow-up meeting on June 17, he told Coalition delegates that 60 - 70% of the ratepayers’ signatures would be required before the Council would even consider giving the residents of the RM a vote on the issue.  

Petitions were discussed further.  According to RM Regulations, twenty (20) signatures are required on a petition requesting the RM to hold a public meeting to discuss any municipal matter.  In the event that this would be required, 20 signatures were promptly obtained from those present.  However, there appears to be no such regulation concerning a request for the RM to hold a vote on any issue.  It was decided to request the RM of Barrier Valley give the ratepayers a secret ballot vote on a final Petition; hopefully, we will be able to collecting the required 60 - 70% of the ratepayers’ signatures.  We hope to have it completed on or before the next RM meeting on August 14, 2003.  Barry Howes questioned if the RM even has to hold a vote regardless of what we do.  The answer is no, but 60 - 70% of the ratepayers signatures will apparently hold some weight with the council.

As a point of interest, Larry Kozar, North East Hogs Committee, had allegedly told one of the Coalition members that the only thing that would stop the barns from coming in would be a vote.

The Coalition was also made aware of a “closed” meeting to be held on June 19, 2003 by the North East Hogs group.  Elaine Hughes sent DuWayne Lupien, North East Hogs, a registered letter requesting that, in light of the significant interest people have in this issue, the meeting be made open to the public.  Mr. Lupien responded by telling her that only ‘elected delegates’ - representatives from the RMs of Tisdale, Bjorkdale and Barrier Valley – were invited to this meeting.  He indicated that North East Hogs would be holding a public meeting after “vacation time” and that we should not worry at this time as “things will not get going again until this fall”.

Discussion on various topics ensued.  Charlene Syrenne suggested that we approach the RM and request that they send out an informational package to all ratepayers. 

The question “Where do we go from here?” was put to those in attendance.  It was suggested by Dwight Hagen that we familiarize ourselves with the Regulations and find out what is required of us to force the council to give us a vote, if there is anything.  Charlene Syrenne and Cheri Gerwing volunteered to check on the Municipal Act Regulation covering this.  Leonard Gerwing volunteered phoning services.  Elaine Hughes will get people to help with mail-out Petitions to ratepayers who do not reside in the area.  We also require volunteers to go door to door in the RM obtaining signatures on the Petition.  We hope to get approximately four (4) people to each division. 

Lisa Sharpen will book a hall for the next meeting that will take place in McKague, SK on July 06, 2003 at 2:00 p.m.  Meeting closed at 4:20 pm.

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Water, Water Everywhere
Letter to the Editor
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
June 26, 2003

Dear Editor,                

In recognition of “2003 - the United Nations Year of Fresh Water”, Saskatoon recently hosted a workshop called Beneficial Management Practices for Healthy Watersheds.  Funded by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, this workshop focussed on ways we can minimize the human impacts on ecosystems in order to protect the precious source waters in Saskatchewan.  Through colourful and interesting presentations, delegates from the federal and provincial Departments of Environment and Agriculture (…all using the same script?) gave presentations dealing with how, under the increasing impact of human development, especially agriculture, they propose to be stewards of our water sources.  But, I heard no hint of their awareness of what is really going on with Saskatchewan water.   

Of particular interest was how, according to its President, Stuart Kramer, the primary role of the Saskatchewan Water Authority is to do a better job of protecting Saskatchewan’s water – to “protect the source before it’s degraded”.    Idyllic empty words.  How can the government be serious about protecting the water sources of this beautiful province while, at the same time, give operating permits to pig factories?    With every permit given to yet another pig factory, the people who claim to be protecting our precious water are compromising it! 

Saskatchewan is being treated like a third-world country.  Targeted by these ‘pollution shoppers’ because of weak municipal bylaws, and driven by the need for more and more money, isolated rural communities are easily lured into thinking the pig factories will improve the local economies.  The province is being ruthlessly exploited for its water resources and is becoming a cesspool – a depository for the filth and health-threatening toxins in the millions of gallons of drinking water turned into millions of gallons of liquid manure.   

Where is the wisdom?  Where are the economics?  Where is the protection of our water sources?   Without independent Environmental Impact Studies, it is impossible to know the future ‘price’ of this madness.  Is this how the Saskatchewan Water Authority is “Doing a better job of protecting our water source”? 

Politics, pigs and power…  Saskatchewan celebrates the United Nations Year of Fresh Water! 

Elaine Hughes
Archerwill, SK

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