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.


Please review, sign and circulate the petition calling for an  "Open and democratic review of Hog Production in Manitoba"  Go to:
Hog Barns Moratorium, Water Protection Review
We are forwarding Manitoba Wildlands recent news item it is available online at:

17 November 06

Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers has ordered a 'temporary pause' on new or expanded hog barns in the province to allow the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to conduct a public review of the Manitoba's 'Water Protection Plan', and to fulfill a recommendation to review the hog industry.

No announcement has been made as to whether the CEC hearing for the proposed OlyWest Hog Processing Plant in Winnipeg will proceed as planned.

Manitoba Conservation also announced the third phase of its 'Water Protection Plan'. To alleviate confusion associated with announcing a new plan already in its third phase, the press release contained a backgrounder to describe actions attributable to the first and second phases. Manitoba's Water Protection Plan was never referred to publicly before November 8, 2006.

The 'Water Protection Plan' is also part of the review by the CEC. The Terms of Reference for the CEC review of the hog industry are available on the CEC web site. No report or Terms of Reference have been released for the 'Water Protection Plan' review.

Gaile Whelan Enns, director of Manitoba Wildlands, indicated, "We need a pause in the OlyWest review and CEC hearings too. It is unfortunate the Minister did not put a scientific and environmental basis to the review of the hog industry. The limited terms of reference assume the outcome. We need real hearings with intervener funding."

View three November 8, 2006 Manitoba Government press releases:




Visit Manitoba Conservation's Environmental Livestock Program


View the Minister of Conservation's Terms of Reference for the CEC Investigation (PDF)


View the Proposed Amendments to the Livestock Manure & Mortalities Management Regulation (PDF):


View the November 10, 2006 Winnipeg Free Press article (DOC)

View the November 14, 2006 CBC article

Source: Government of Manitoba
Doer Government Playing Parlor Tricks?

November 15, 2006

Editor, Brandon Sun

Dear Editor:

I read with interest your recent editorial [“The dead hand strikes again” Sun, November 10, 2006) chastising the Doer Government for imposing a ‘moratorium’ on hog barn expansion, pending a “review” of the industry by the Clean Environment Commission (CEC).

One need only examine the fine print in Minister Struthers’ announcements to see that your criticism is misplaced.

On the one hand, as Struthers confirmed in an interview broadcast on CBC radio on November 9, the “moratorium” does not apply to the 17 or so hog barn proposals currently “in process.” Objectively, this means that these proposals will go forward to construction (and operation), as soon as they complete the approval process. By contrast, a bona fide ‘moratorium’ would involve the suspension of approval processes, pending the outcome of the CEC review.

On the other hand, inspection of the terms of reference issued to the CEC in this matter clearly shows that the government has absolutely no intention of seriously examining the environmental sustainability of Manitoba’s hog industry. In particular, the CEC will not be holding public hearings as part of its review. Instead, it will hold “public meetings.”

Public hearings, such as the one conducted by the CEC in relation to the Maple Leaf expansion, are governed by the Manitoba Evidence Act. Among other things, this involves sworn testimony, cross-examination, evidence elicited from experts as well as the public at large, and so on. The CEC assesses this evidence and then issues recommendations based on that assessment.

Public meetings, by contrast, have none of these requirements. Indeed, my experience has been that such meetings are little more than cheerleading sessions for the particular special interest group (here, the pork industry) with the most resources. Consequently, spectacular and unverified claims, rather than assessed evidence, become the basis of recommendations that emerge from this process.

Is it any wonder that Mr. Kynoch, Chair of the Manitoba Pork Council, has stated that the CEC review will vindicate the industry’s environmental record?

In closing, I would simply note that the most charitable interpretation of the Doer Government’s action here is that it represents nothing more than a political parlor trick, a cynical slight of hand which is explicitly designed to defuse the Hog issue until after the upcoming Spring election.


Joe Dolecki

RR1 Alexander, Manitoba ROK OAO (204 – 328-5385)

NFU Applauds Manitoba Government Withdrawal of Bill 40
November 3, 2004

SWAN RIVER, MB – The Government of Manitoba has “done the right thing” by withdrawing Bill 40, says Ken Sigurdson, Manitoba Coordinator of the National Farmers Union (NFU).

Manitoba Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Scott Smith announced today the provincial government had decided “not to proceed with Bill 40.” Sigurdson said he is very encouraged by the move, noting it is clear the government “was listening to the people of Manitoba .”

The NFU, along with many other organizations, has spoken out against provisions in the legislation which limited the right of rural municipalities to regulate intensive livestock operations. “Public pressure played a role in this decision,” stated Sigurdson. “This legislation really didn’t please anybody, and I believe the government members, over the course of the debate, gained a clearer understanding of the far-reaching negative implications of this legislation.”

Sigurdson said people appreciate the fact that the democratic process is working in Manitoba , and that the government appears willing to listen to people’s legitimate concerns. “We’re hoping this sets a trend for the future,” he said. “We’re very prepared to work with the government to address important environmental issues, as well as the serious financial problems facing family farmers in this province.”

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Brandon Sun article "Hog barn will be built near Oakburn"
July 3, 2004
This message is in response to the Brandon Sun article "Hog barn will be built near Oakburn" dated October 31, 2003: 

Are you aware that our group (Wolfe Creek Conservation Group) currently has a suit pending in court relating to errors made by the municipality prior to the hearing last fall?

Our group pointed this out to them, however they chose to ignore and simply stated that they did everything that had to be done according to the Planning Act.  According to the Planning Act, persons with property within two kilometers of the proposed site are to be notified by mail of the hearing - several people did not receive these notices.   Apparently nothing is really going to happen until the end of the month - I do believe that counsel for the municipality will respond at that time.  I thought that perhaps a newsletter of some sort should be prepared to all the taxpayers within the Strathclair municipality to remind them that they will essentially be paying the municipality's lawyer's fees to fight themselves - does this make any sense? 
As far as Bill 40 goes, I am afraid that this is going to be bulldozed right through to once again accommodate the hog industry.
Here's an interesting tidbit - Premium Pork is now operating under the name Genetiporc. I assume Genetiporc operated under the umbrella of Premium Pork or vice versa.  I believe Genetiporc originated in Quebec.  These guys sure know how to protect themselves.  Anyway, I thought you should be aware of this.  I'm not sure what's become of Premium Pork.
Les and Cheryl

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The Price of Pork
Manitoba has joined the gold rush to mass produce cheap pork with hundreds of mega hog barns and a meatpacking monopoly. The Aquarian examines the real cost of our billion dollar export industry for farmers, rural communities, animals and the environment.
Hog Wild: Manitoba's Reckless Agriventure

If you’re interested in getting into big-time corporate hog production, don’t go to North Carolina. Don’t go to Quebec either, or Taiwan or Iowa or the Netherlands. But should you come to friendly Manitoba, you’re in luck. 

There is No Cheap Pork

Based on this bottom line alone, there is little doubt that the most efficient way to produce pork chops, ham and bacon is in a factory-style mega hog barn. But things are not so clear-cut when you factor in all the costs, including the long-term social and environmental costs.

Why Manitoba Must "Quit Stalling"

I believe that the root of all these problems, and specifically the hog industry’s, is the close confinement of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of animals in completely unnatural settings in a very small space under one roof.

Changes to Bill 40 Take Away Local Input
Letter to the Editor

March 22, 2004

Dear Editor:

Farmers and rural communities are in a real crisis. The Manitoba government has promoted PMU, Elk, Buffalo, encouraged and financed the expansion of beef and factory hog barns in this province. Many farmers in these ventures are near financial ruin. The Manitoba government does nothing to address these problems they have created.

In fact the only legislation they are putting forward is Bill 40, changes to the Planning Act. This draconian legislation is designed to take away local people’s say over the establishment of large factory hog barns in this province. With the low price of hogs and proposed countervail action by the US, family hog farms will be wiped out.

Are more corporate hog barns and more production the solution to low prices and the US countervail action? As the former Premier of Saskatchewan Grant Devine used to say, “you don’t say ‘whoa’ in the middle of a mud hole”. The Manitoba government is following this type of logic; they want to build an even deeper and wider mud hole.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Mihychuk describes those opposed to this legislation as anti- farming. This corporate model being set up is and will be owned or controlled by Maple Leaf Foods. How can the NDP government of Manitoba hide behind the terms “farmer and farming” and set up these systems that wipe out family farms? Recently, US presidential candidate John Kerry meeting with Iowa family farmers, environmentalists, and residents, proclaimed, “The corporatization of farming in Iowa is destroying the ability of family farmers to survive”. Clearly Mrs. Mihychuk and today’s NDP are probably close to the views of republican’s George Bush and Dick Cheney in their disdain for the environment and family farms. Manitoba is becoming the Texas of the north.

And where is Agriculture Minister Wowchuk when this legislation is being introduced and farmers are in these dire straits? She is in Mexico. Do we have farmers in Mexico? Apparently, when you don’t know what to do, you circle the globe.

It appears the major objective of these proposed changes to the Planning Act is to extract revenge against certain RM councils and the communities.

Clause 30 (4) of this proposed legislation gives the minister the power to “approve of or reject any by-law”. The Minister has the final say and can reject local by-laws that place conditions or restrictions on factory hog barns.

Clause 59.5 (3) states the RM can place no conditions on “the storage, application or use of manure”. RM’s that have by-laws requiring above ground manure storage will have those by-laws revoked. The over-application of phosphorous through manure is a major problem with these factory hog barns. The Animal Stewardship Committee recognized this and recommended that manure be applied on the basis of Phosphate content. This recommendation was never adopted.  Manitoba is not prepared to regulate the application of manure and they cynically propose to stop the RM’s from regulating manure application.

Technical reviews of hog projects conducted by staff of the Agriculture department have been a very shaudy process. At Conditional Use hearings, citizens have pointed out many flaws in proposals that the technical review committee already approved. Under the proposed legislation, the RM cannot say no to a flawed proposal approved by the technical review committee. All the RM council can do is order covers on lagoons or order the planting of trees. By the removal of the Conditional Use process and hearings, the government of Manitoba is taking away the rights of RM councils to say no to factory hog barns.

The proposed changes to the Planning Act would destroy the ability of local people to make democratic decisions about their community. As the Regional Coordinator of the NFU in Manitoba, I am promising this government one hell of a fight should they proceed with this legislation.          

Sincerely Kenneth Sigurdson
Regional Coordinator National Farmers Union

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Manitoba Eco-Network Member Groups


North American affiliate of the Taiga Rescue Network
2-70 Albert Street 

Winnipeg, MB R3B 1E7

Contact: Don Sullivan  

Phone: (204) 947-3081
Fax: (204) 947-3076





Local campaign for a pesticide bylaw banning the cosmetic use of pesticides.

c/o #2 - 70 Albert Street

Winnipeg, MB  R3B 1E7

Contact: Ian Greaves 

Phone: (204) 889-6021

Fax: (204) 989-8476



Education and advocacy for the protection of nature.

#412 - 63 Albert Street

Winnipeg, MB R3B 1G4

Contact: Gaile Whelan-Enns, Manitoba Director, Wildlands Campaign

Phone: (204) 944-9593  

Fax: (204) 947-3076





Involved in advocacy, protection and public education for parks and wilderness in Manitoba.

P.O. Box 344

Winnipeg, MB R3C 2H6  

Office: 3B - 70 Albert St.

Contact:  Beth McKechnie (Executive Director) 

Phone: (204) 949-0782

Fax: (204) 949-0783





Public education around alternatives to harmful chemicals in everyday use.

43 Rutgers Bay

Winnipeg, MB R3T 3C9

Contact: Margaret Friesen 

Phone: (204) 261-8591




Research and education on subarctic ecology.

Box 610 

Churchill, MB R0B 0E0

Contact: Michael Goodyear 

Phone: (204) 675-2307

Fax: (204) 675-2139




Undertaking public education around the importance of protection of our urban forest.

1539 Waverley St.

Winnipeg, MB R3T 4V7

Contact: Martha Barwinsky 

Phone: (204) 832-7188





Committed to establishing and nurturing refugees placed in our community.

815 Inkster Blvd.

Winnipeg, MB R2X 1N3

Contact: Jim Mair  

Phone: (204) 984-0203




Seeking more environmentally sound livestock operation methods and alternatives to earthen manure lagoons.

Box 73

Middlebro, MB R0A 1B0

Contact: Doug Thomasson

Phone: (204) 437-2769

Fax: (204) 437-2797




31 Alloway Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3G 0Z7

Contact: Glenda Whiteman

Phone: (204) 779-3660





218 Osborne St. S.

Winnipeg, MB R3L 1Z3

Contact: Gloria Desorcy

Phone: (204) 452-2572 or 1-888-596-0900

Fax: (204) 284-1876





c/o 952 Dorchester Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3M 0R9

Contact: Bruce Hildebrand 

Phone: (204) 475-1618





University of Winnipeg students’ group focused on environmental and social justice issues.              

c/o UWSA

515 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9

Contact: Erica Young

Phone: (204) 786-9189




Centre for education on wildlife and related issues.              

1961 McCreary Road

Winnipeg, MB R3P 2K9

Contact: Kathy Penner 

Phone: (204) 989-8352  

Fax: (204) 895-4700





A neighbourhood-based organization working for greening and revitalization in West Broadway.

640 Broadway Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3C 0X3

Contact: Jeneva Storme 

Phone: (204) 774-3534

Fax: (204) 779-2203





#2-70 Albert St.

Winnipeg, MB R3B 1E7

Contact:  Glen Koroluk 

Phone: (204) 925-3772

Fax: (204) 989-8476




Contact: David Henry 

Phone: (204) 943-4316




346 Portage Ave

Winnipeg, MB R3C 0C3

Contact: Michael Dudley 

Phone: (204) 982-1140

Fax: (204) 943-4695





104 Trottier Bay
Winnipeg, MB R3T 3Y5
Contact: Mark Myrowich 

Phone: (204) 477-1700

or Lindy Clubb (204) 475-9608
Email: mark@erosioncontrolblanketcom

Resource Line: (204) 478-1322



161 Portage Avenue East, Sixth Floor

Winnipeg, MB R3B 0Y4

Contact: Dennis Cunningham 

Phone: (204) 958-7700

Fax: (204) 958-7710





Programs include Conservation Caravan, Composting, Tree Planting and Recycling

Box 484

Thompson, MB R8N 1N2

Contact: Twila Makuch

Phone: (204) 778-1940

Fax: (204) 778-1941




Promoting awareness and conservation of natural areas, specifically tall grass prairie, through environmental education.

2795 Ness Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3J 3S4

Contact: Lise Smith, Education Coordinator

Phone: (204) 832-0167

Fax: (204) 986-4172





Environment Committee of Manitoba labour groups.

#503 - 275 Broadway

Winnipeg, MB R3C 4M6

Contact: Peter Walker 

Phone: (204) 947-1400  

Fax: (204) 943-4276





Fostering awareness, appreciation and protection of the natural environment.

#401 - 63 Albert Street

Winnipeg, MB R3B 1G4

Contact: Gordon Fardoe 

Phone: (204) 943-9029  

Fax: (204) 943-9029





2141-B Henderson Highway

Winnipeg, MB R2G 1P8

Contact: Mark Miller 

Phone: (204) 338-0804




#411 - 63 Albert Street

Winnipeg, MB R3B 1G4

Contact: Gaile Whelan-Enns

Phone: (204) 944-9593  

Fax: (204) 947-3076




Box 49

Glenlea, MB R0G 0S0

Contact: Paul Clarke, Executive Director  

Phone: (204) 883-2905
Fax:  (204) 883-2258



Box 22021 

Brandon, MB R7A 6Y9

Contact: Dan Soprovich 

Phone: (204) 734-3054


Lindy Clubb (204) 475-9608




117 Morier Avenue
Winnipeg, MB  R2M 0C8

Contact: Peggy Bainard Acheson
Phone: (204) 231-1160  

Fax: (204) 231-4448




The Interpretive Centre is dedicated to fostering public awareness and knowledge of the inherent values of wetland ecosystems.

1 Snowgoose Bay

Box 1160 

Stonewall, MB R0C 2Z0

Phone: (204) 467-3305

Fax: (204) 467-9028





Support for organic farmers and the organic certification process in Manitoba

Box 14 Grp 6 RR1

Dufresne, MB R0A 0J0

Contact: Amy Hawkins-Bowman 

Phone: (204) 878-2839




Soil and water conservation in the Pembina Valley.

Box 659 

Manitou, MB R0G 1G0

Contact: Cliff Greenfield

Phone: (204) 242-3267

Fax: (204) 242-3281




Working for peace through disarmament and education.

745 Westminster Avenue

Winnipeg, MB R3G1A5

Contact: Director 

Phone: (204) 775-8178





410 - 283 Bannatyne Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3B 3B2

Contact: Harold Taylor 

Phone: (204) 982-7254





A centre for applied sustainability offering practical solutions for everyday living.

#2 - 70 Albert Street

Winnipeg, MB R3B 1E7

Contact: Randall McQuaker 

Phone: (204) 925-3777

Fax: (204) 942-4207





Working to promote preservation of and public interest in, the natural habitat and wildlife of the local area.

Box 17

Roseisle, MB R0G 1V0

Contact: Ted Ross, President

Phone: (204) 248-2339

Fax: (204) 248-2362




Remediation, protection and recreational development for the Seine River.

Box 83, 208 Provencher Blvd.

Winnipeg MB R2H 3B4

Contact: David Danyluk 

Phone: (204) 470-9247





412 McDermot Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3A 0A9

Contact: Wayne Helgason 

Phone: (204) 943-2561

Fax: (204) 942-3221




Speleological Society of Manitoba

Dedicated to the exploration, study and conservation of the physical and biological features of caves and surrounding karst landscapes in Manitoba.

364 Chalfont Rd.

Winnipeg, MB R3R 0R3

Contact: Jack Dubois, President 

Phone: (204) 832-3857





Advocacy for a sustainable forest agenda in Manitoba.

133 Riley Crescent

Winnipeg, MB R3T 0J5

Contact: Peter Miller 

Phone: 204) 452-9017 

Fax: (204) 774-4134




Faculty program.

70 Dysart Rd.

University of Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2

Contact: Joan Moore 

Phone: (204) 474-7252





On campus student activity

Box 42, University Centre

University of Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2

Contact: Amanda Aziz 

Phone: (204) 474-9118




This interdisciplinary program of study is aimed at educating students in a holistic approach to their environment. Following the general principles of sustainability, the program provides an integrated approach to understanding the environment, acknowledging human impact, and providing a framework to develop future solutions to environmental problems.

515 Portage Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9

Contact: Alan Diduck

Phone: (204) 786-9461





Support for, and evaluation of, United Nations’ programs locally.

375 Jefferson Avenue

Winnipeg, MB R2V 0N3

Contact: Muriel Smith 

Phone: (204) 586-0173            

Fax: (204) 582-6272





Dedicated to working with people to revive and protect watersheds, lakes and rivers.

737 Home St.

Winnipeg, MB R3E 2C5

Contact: Trish Sellers 

Phone: (204) 955-4703





Working for the preservation of wilderness through research and education.

#2 - 70 Albert Street

Winnipeg, MB  R3B 1E7

Contact: Ron Thiessen 

Phone: (204) 942-9292          

Fax: (204) 949-1527





To protect animals from suffering and to promote their welfare and dignity.

5 Kent St. 

Winnipeg, MB R2L 1X3

Contact: Vicki Burns

Phone: (204) 982-2037

Fax: (204) 663-9401





704-275 Broadway Ave.

Winnipeg, MB R3C 4M6

Contact: Allen Bleich 

Phone: (204) 942-0343




Public education on the health, environmental and animal welfare benefits of a plant-based diet.

Box 2721

Winnipeg, MB R3C 4B3

Contact:  Dennis Bayomi 

Phone: (204) 889-5789



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Letters to the Editor
Thu, Nov 2, 2000
Water Quality Fell After Hog Barns Opened

My wife and I own a small farm in southeastern Manitoba. In 1982, to ensure ourselves of a viable water supply, we had a deep well drilled on our farm.  At the time, the well-drilling contractor told us we would never have to worry about having an abundance of good quality water. He was right. We had the water tested and, apart from an elevated iron content and a bit more than desirable hardness, the water was of excellent quality.

In 1993 we had the water from this well tested again. The results were the same; essentially excellent quality water. 

In September 2000, we had our water tested because of concerns arising from other tests in the area.  

The results this time, according to Manitoba Water Services standards -- unsafe for drinking. The total coliform content had escalated to 13 times the provincial standard for safe drinking water. Our formerly near-perfect water supply is now contaminated.

Between the last test and this most recent one, nine hog barns have commenced operations within a two-mile radius of our farm. The air quality on some days could best be described as unbearable. Now we are also left wondering if the contamination of our excellent water source is somehow connected to these large manure-generating operations.


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Hog Farms Take Beating in Documents
Thursday, March 21st, 2002

By Leah Janzen

Large hog operations are polluting the air and water and are causing serious health problems in farmers, according to federal government documents released this week.

The reports surfaced just days before the unveiling of a new 2,500 hog farm slated to open near Hamiota this weekend.

The Agriculture Canada reports -- obtained through a freedom of information request by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper and confirmed by the Free Press -- were written between 1997 and 2000.

They say hog farms around the country have saturated soils and streams with chemicals from manure. And the concentrated manure fumes have caused asthma, bronchitis, depression and other health problems in the people who work at the hog farms.

Where farmland lies close to cities, ammonia fumes from the hog manure can combine with industrial pollutants and car exhaust to make dangerous acidic compounds, the documents note.

University of Brandon biology professor Dr. Bill Paton said the reports substantiate concerns he's had for years.

"It's all the same information I've been trying to get the province to look at," he said yesterday. "People think the government is looking after them and we're finding out they're not."

Provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said her department has requested a copy of the reports.

She said she'll review the information and determine whether it is something that warrants further consideration.

Fred Tait, a spokesman for Hogwatch Manitoba, said the reports have become public too late.

"I'm furious about this," he said. "We could have avoided these problems if we used this information before we welcomed the industry into the province.  Now what do we do? The damage is already done."

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Letter to the Editor
Manitoba Co-operator
June, 2003

To the Editor:

As one who has recently retired from farming, I lament the polarization and animosity that has developed in rural Manitoba over the expanding hog industry.  I fear that articles such as the May 1 editorial, “Hog money is good” can only serve to add fuel to the fire.

I find the editorial troubling for several reasons.  First of all, the author appears to build his case on the dubious assumptions that the hog industry is a primary factor in driving up land prices and that higher land prices are good for everyone.  Secondly, the author resorts to insulting those who take an opposing position.  They are referred to as “people with limited visions and aspirations.”  R.M. councillors who oppose the expansion of the hog industry are referred to as “less business-minded councillors”; those who support the industry as “smart R.M. councillors”.  Thirdly, he judges the motives of those who oppose the indiscriminate expansion of the industry, suggesting that they must be driven by jealousy.

The most troubling feature of the editorial, however, is the apparent underlying assumption that if it can be demonstrated that the industry contributes to the building of wealth, then no other factors need to be considered.  To overlook the contribution of the hog industry to the provincial economy would be a mistake.  However, to allow economic considerations to completely override ecological concerns doesn’t make sense either.  To accuse people of jealousy when they oppose construction of large hog barns near their place of residence is to add insult to injury.  The negative effects on the quality of life of people residing near large hog barns as well as the possibility of hog barns and slaughtering facilities negatively impacting surface and groundwater quality should not be ignored.

Although dialogue and debate can be useful, it can also be destructive and damaging.  The May 1 editorial strikes me as being totally one-sided and consequently can only contribute to polarization.  There was a time when I expected more from the editorial page of the Manitoba Co-operator.

Norman L. Braun
Winkler, MB

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Intensive Livestock Operations not 'Normal'
Winnipeg Free Press
June 13, 2003

Re: Joe Dolecki's letter NDP government backs hog operations (Free Press, June 4). I am part of a group of 500-plus citizens who have signed a petition opposed to a proposed intensive livestock operation to be located in the eastern region of Manitoba in the RM of Whitemouth.

Our community is just beginning the grassroots process outlined by Dolecki in his article. We, too, are wondering if the council will make the right decision based on the democratic concerns of the overwhelming majority of the community and not on the strong-arm or scare tactics of the proponents, the industry or the government.

What constitutes normal farming practices? Manitoba has used this questionable designation to enact legislation and guidelines such as the Farm Practices Protection Act and the Farm Practices Guidelines for Hog Producers in Manitoba, which have entrenched dubious farming practices in the form of intensive livestock operations, taken away the rights of other landowners, and put the health of people and the environment at risk, all under the guise of protecting farmlands and "normal" farming operations.

But can an intensive livestock operation be termed a "normal" farming operation? Many farmers -- and I am one of them -- don't think so.

It is notable that while we farmers make up less than three per cent of the population of Manitoba, farm operations accounted for almost 40 per cent of all infractions under the Environment Act last year. Many of those infractions came from intensive livestock operations, which make up only a fraction of the farmers in Manitoba.

As a farmer who raises 100 head of swine a year as part of my operation, I resent having those animal factories classified as a "normal" farming operation and impinging upon the reputation of responsible farmers.

In our local situation, farmers and other landowners have signed a petition against having an intensive livestock operation imposed on our community. If the farming community itself does not want this, then an intensive livestock operation is not "normal" from this community's point of view. Therefore, whom is the government trying to protect in these acts? Is it the interests of one person (who might be fronting for a corporation) over those of everyone else? Fundamentally, the issue revolves around all landowners' rights, whether farmers or not, to be able to prevent projects that impinge detrimentally on their common-law right to enjoy their land nuisance-free, versus the right of another to conduct a factory farming operation that our bureaucracy has deemed to be a "normal" farming practice.

It is inconceivable that in a democratic society, our government would enact legislation that entrenches and protects questionable farming practices in the form of intensive livestock operations for a tiny minority (less than one per cent) to the detriment of the vast majority of other farmers and landowners (in excess of 99 per cent).

It is even more inconceivable, given the fact that a large portion of the minority, the farming community itself questions the validity of terming intensive livestock operations "normal" farming practices.

Kim Elphick
RM of Whitemouth
Seven Sisters Falls

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Group Wants More Studies, Hearings on Potential Impact of Second Shift
Brandon Sun
June 27, 2003

By Curtis Brown

The door has opened a crack for the Westman Action Coalition and now the hog industry watchdog is trying to break it down by asking for a second round of Clean Environment Commission hearings over Maple Leaf Pork's proposal for a second shift.

Yesterday, the four-person CEC panel ruled in favour of the Westman Coalition, allowing the environmental hearings to include debate on increased hog production and social conditions due to increased production at Maple Leaf, which is expected to kill an additional 18,000 pigs a day after the second shift is up and running.

After the ruling the WAC went further, asking for the city - which would expand its wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the second shift - and Maple Leaf to pay consultants to get concrete answers on social conditions and hog production, a move which could set back Maple Leaf's plans by months.

"We have to guarantee all the information is in front of us," says Glen Koroluk, a presenter with the WAC and member of Hog Watch Manitoba, an industry watchdog group.

"It's important we take a look at this and we first need information before we can logically debate it and come to an objective report."

Maple Leaf and the city, meanwhile, are saying they can answer the group's questions now without the delay the WAC is proposing.

The coalition is asking for a socioeconomic impact assessment, a study on increased hog production due to the second shift and numbers for a study on water flow into the Assiniboine River.

They want funding from the government for their own evaluation of the data and are asking the CEC to hold a second round of hearings after letting the coalition study the new information for at least 45 days.

John Stephaniuk, the city and Maple Leaf's lawyer, wants to answer the group's questions and get the hearing finished by today, when it is scheduled to end.

"I want to say emphatically that the proponent wants to continue with the proceedings and answer questions to the best of our ability," he says.

"The proponent has no interest in delaying matters."

Officials from the provincial conservation department concur with Stephaniuk, saying they cannot study potential hog production due to the second shift without knowing first where the barns would be located.

"The impact on additional hog production is currently unknown. The reason is we have no idea where the production will occur. Until you know, it's quite difficult to assess the impacts," says Larry Strachan, the licensing director for Manitoba Conservation.

Testimony continues this morning at 9 a.m., with the panel expected to announce its decision on the WAC motion at that time.

Barry Cullen, president of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, took the stand at the hearing and said the business lobby wants the second shift to be approved in "a timely manner."

Bill Paton, a botanist and Brandon University and member of the WAC, asked Cullen whether the Chamber supports the city using taxpayer money to pay for the plant.

The cost of the plant, estimated at $15 million, is being negotiated between Maple Leaf, the city and the province.

Cullen says he agrees with whatever the city's elected officials decide to do.

"This is a vote of support to the leader's we've elected," he says.

The panel spent most of Wednesday and most of yesterday afternoon listening to testimony from several experts Maple Leaf and the city retained to work on the proposed wastewater plant.

Lawrence Novachis of Zenon Technology walked the panel through the technology that would run the expanded plant, which is expected to produce 293 cubic metres of sludge per day.

Zenon did a pilot test of their technology at the existing wastewater plant in the winter, using a water flow of about one gallon per minute, and found that their system should be able to take out 92 to 95 per cent of the nitrogen out of the wastewater.

North/South Consultants also did a study of the water in the Assiniboine River and how increased effluent would affect concentrations of ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorous and algae.

Their study found that chemical levels spike near the wastewater plant but settle out as the water flows between Brandon and Portage la Prairie.

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Leaders Want Barn Opening Delayed
CanWest Global Communications
July 26, 2003

Community leaders in the Pelican Lake area want the Manitoba government to delay the opening of a new hog barn.

They say a lawsuit against a local reeve should be settled first.

The lawsuit claims the reeve and a councillor of the rural Municipality of Turtle Mountain were in a conflict of interest when they approved the hog barn, since they own hog barns themselves.

Bob Wood, reeve of the adjacent Rural Municipality of Strathcona on the north side of the lake, wants the province to halt construction on the barn until the legal battle is resolved.

Wood says the new barn will likely be up and running long before the courts come to a decision on the case.

Provincial officials say they will not intervene, saying the court can be asked to order a halt on construction until the case is decided.

Wood fears the hog facility will pollute Pelican Lake, which is a major tourist draw for the region south of Brandon.

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Hog Plant Layoffs Shake Neepawa
Small Town Reeling from Loss of 340 Jobs
Winnipeg Free Press
August 5, 2003

NEEPAWA -- Scale is everything in a small rural community. 

The loss of one job in a town like Neepawa, population 3,300, is like losing nearly 200 jobs in Winnipeg, with its population almost 200 times larger. 

So the recent layoff of 340 employees here by Springhill Farms hog processing plant -- the equivalent of about 60,000 workers in Winnipeg -- means hard times ahead for this community, better known as the "Lily Capital" for its lily festivals. 

The layoff comes on the heels of the beef trade crisis. Now a drought is reducing crop yields. 

"It's going to be a pretty scary winter. I really fear for people," said barber Grant Hurrell, or Hymie the Haircutter as his sign says -- his childhood nickname after "Hymie the Robot" of television series Get Smart. Hurrell is already starting to see business slacken as residents tighten their belts.

"People are making changes now to their future, which will affect our future," said Roger McGillivray, manager of the Neepawa Furniture Centre.

The layoff by Springhill Farms, owned by four Hutterite colonies and an outside partner, shocked everyone. Springhill is the largest employer in Neepawa, located about 170 kilometres west of Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway. The company has avoided layoffs for much of its history. 

"There are people in every family in the area where workers are affected," said Neepawa Mayor Bob Durston.

Everything from construction companies, to farm equipment dealers, to restaurants, to the rental property market, which is surprisingly large due to the growth of the Springhill plant, will feel the pinch, said Durston. 

Provincial officials were to meet with Springhill Farms to discuss the options available to the facility. A provincial spokesman said the company has made proposals to the province, which are now being reviewed.

There had been some talk of converting the plant into a cattle slaughtering facility to help during the mad cow crisis, but the spokesman said neither the province nor the company are interested in pursuing retrofits for cattle slaughter.

There are still possibilities to use it for its cold storage to allow other cattle slaughter facilities to increase production.

Springhill blames mounting losses for forcing it to lay off 220 employees in late June, and another 120 last week. Only 25 staff remain.

The company was losing $30 on every hog processed at the time of the layoff, said Bill Teichroew, Springhill Farms general manager and ownership partner. That was after a "very bad year" in 2002.

"We've never experienced losses like this before. Before the bank tells you what to do, you do something," said Teichroew.

Maple Leaf Pork, with plants in Brandon and Winnipeg, has also seen profits diminish, but it has deeper pockets to withstand a downturn.

Several factors contributed to the losses at Springhill. The rise of Canada's dollar by at least 12 per cent over last year has narrowed margins. The pork industry has also felt spillover from the crisis over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alberta cow, that has made some buyers jittery about buying meat from Canada. Due to BSE, American customers have also stopped buying offal from hog production for making pet food.

Also, competition in the United States has heated up considerably among pork processors. Maple Leaf Pork in Winnipeg recently cancelled its contract with Springhill, which was killing 8,000 hogs per week for Maple Leaf.

"I don't know why (competition is so fierce). I talked to a guy that's been in the industry 30 years, and he doesn't know why either," said Teichroew.

Management maintains it has every intention to operate again once it becomes profitable to do so. Teichroew said futures prices for the last quarter of the year are down to $1.20-$1.30 per pound for live hogs, from recent prices of about $1.50. That indicates margins may improve later in the year and possibly allow the plant to reopen, but there is no target date.

Workers can't help but wonder if the independently owned, medium-sized abattoir may be closed for good. "There are all kinds of rumours," said a senior employee, who asked not to be named.

The industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in the last decade. Some of the companies that have disappeared include Schneiders, Burns and Gainers. The two giants still standing in Canada are Maple Leaf and Olymel of Quebec.

Workers understand the company couldn't afford to keep losing money, but are chagrined that the remaining staff weren't chosen by seniority. The skeleton staff are fulfilling a six-week order for Japan.

Some laid-off cutters are starting to explore other job opportunities, such as Granny's Poultry in Steinbach. "People are going to pack up. They'll lose senior cutting people if they don't reopen soon," said the employee.

The salary range for employees is $30,000 to $35,000. Workers are unionized, and represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers. Their collective agreement expires next January.

The packing plant was opened in 1987 by Springhill Hutterite Colony, which wanted a market for its hogs. One of the founders was Mack Wollman of Springhill Colony, who still keeps a hand in the business. The packing plant has undergone several reorganizations since then, the last being in 1997  when it became a partnership between Springhill and three other colonies.

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Hogs a Tough Sell in U.S.
Maple Leaf wants barns in N. Dakota to supply Brandon plant
Winnipeg Free Press
Thursday, September 4th, 2003

CANDO, N.D. -- Maple Leaf Foods' plan for encouraging large-scale, independently owned hog farms in the United States to supply its pork-processing plant in Brandon is raising a stink in rural North Dakota.

Construction has begun on two sets of hog barns near Cando, about 195 kilometres northwest of Grand Forks. Dakota Country Swine, owned by J.B. (Bruce) and Lisa Gibbens and his sister, Judy Gibbens, has 10 barns and is expected to turn out 60,000 hogs a year once it's in full operation. Another operation, Hexagon Farm, owned by J.R. (Jim) Gibbens and his wife, Linda, is similar in size. Combined, the project is worth about $4 million US.

The two farms are part of a larger plan by Elite Swine Inc., a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods Co., to expand pig production in the state, the first step in a fundamental change for North Dakota agriculture.

It was two years ago when the Gibbenses met Craig Jarolimek, a North Dakota-based representative for Elite Swine. Jarolimek, who was president of the National Pork Producers Council in 2000, emptied his barns, and rented out his land to work as a consultant with Elite Swine. His mission is to discover opportunities for pork expansion in North Dakota.

State Rep. Gene Nicholas, (R-Cando), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, urged him to make presentations to Cando economic leaders. The town of about 1,600 people had already embraced progressive agribusiness when it attracted the first integrated noodle plant in the U.S.

"Gene is a good friend of Bruce and mine, and he said, 'You ought to look at feeding pigs instead of cattle,' " Jim Gibbens says.

Jarolimek has to find interested owners for the hog operations because of North Dakota's anti-corporate farming law. In Canada, no such legislation exists, allowing Maple Leaf to buy land and set up its own farms.

In the Gibbens case, the plans aren't finalized. But Elite Swine has "bargained" with its own parent company, Maple Leaf Foods, to potentially deliver hogs to Maple Leaf's underused Brandon plant, Jarolimek says.

Jarolimek notes that the Brandon plant wasn't built with the vision of sourcing pigs from North Dakota, but the freight and logistics are making that more and more logical. Among other things, the U.S.-Canadian currency exchange rate is changing, so feed-cost differences also are changing. The country-of-origin-labelling issue may have an effect as well, but that's undetermined.

The Gibbenses liked what they heard from Elite Swine -- 10-year contracts -- actually, five-year contracts with an option to renew for another five years. These were terms unavailable in the beef industry.

Jarolimek says the deal has been vetted with the North Dakota Attorney General's office. The Gibbenses are assured a rental space on their barns at a fixed price. "We pay them monthly for pig space, over five years," Jarolimek says.

The contracts are all in U.S. dollars, Jim says. "They don't fluctuate with the exchange rate. Good, bad or otherwise, they're fixed."

While the process of setting up the large hog farms differs on both sides of the 49th parallel, the controversy about such intensive operations knows no border.

Some area residents strongly oppose large-scale hog production and what they believe will be negative effects on the environment and way of life. They expect it to stink and even drive out waterfowl hunters they've been trying to attract.

Others say the hog development is overdue -- a way to capitalize on the cheap feed grains produced here and shipped elsewhere to feed animals. It's a way to keep people on the land. Either way, the Gibbenses are at the centre of it.

On July 10 in Cando, hog-project opponent Roger Copeland, invited rancher/activist Sue Jarrett of Wray, Colo. to speak at an informal meeting, Jarrett, a former co-chair of the USDA's Small Farm Advisory committee, talked about her six years of having five 16,000-head hog barns within five kilometres of her ranch.

Water quality and the loss of family farms -- not smell -- are Jarrett's main concerns. She acknowledges that the Gibbens' lagoons are legal under state health department rules, but says they are oversized, creating a bigger base for leakage.

Opponents compare the Gibbens' barns to the EnviroPork facilities near Larimore, N.D. Jim Gibbens says EnviroPork is "successfully running and doing a good job."

He says that if the operation, which employs 19 people, had been set farther off of U.S. Highway 2, there would be fewer complaints.

The Cando community will need to adjust to survive and thrive, Jim says. Right now, that means hogs.

"In case you don't know it, Microsoft is not stopping in Cando. The name of our game is always going to be 'ag something-or-other.' "

Think of the jobs, he says. There'll be the 12 finishing barn workers, the four or five for the nursery barns, the 18 workers in the farrowing barn.

"One loop would be 30 to 35 direct jobs. And for every direct job, we think one to two new spin-off jobs. We could have 70 people working in Cando with one loop."

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Pig Sty of the Continent
Letter to the Editor
September 12, 2003

Dear Editor:

This year I travelled much of North America by bicycle. After 10,000 kms, I could not avoid the realization that my home province is one of the smelliest jurisdictions on the continent. I am a proud Manitoba farm boy, but the concentration of hog barns and putrid air in the vicinity of Steinbach was far worse than anything else I encountered.

And what are the benefits of being the pig sty of the continent? These bacon factories provide minimal employment (post construction) and the slaughter houses provide notoriously undesirable jobs. Seems like a script conceived by corporate ham honchos far removed from the stench and contaminated water.

There seems something distinctly counter-intuitive about the way in which our governments – past and present – bend over backwards to make way for the industrial bacon enthusiasts. I expect my government to defend the interests of family farms, the land, and Manitobans in general. Instead they seem to have assumed the role  f chief apologist for the corporate-dominated pig industry. Can we not come up with a more creative strategy for the agricultural sector?

Will Braun

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Corrosion played role in manure spill: report
River pollution narrowly averted
Thursday, September 18th, 2003

By Helen Fallding

AN engineering consultant claims a hog manure tank that narrowly missed polluting a river running through two Interlake reserves ripped open this spring because it was corroded.

Manitoba has about 40 similar steel hog manure tanks, but the manufacturer says they are safe if used properly.

In a report prepared for the Marble Ridge Hutterite colony, an engineering consultant claims there was evidence of corrosion along the joint where the tank tore open in March. More than two million litres of liquid manure that spewed from the tank ripped a pump house from its foundation.

Ruptured pipes blew propane into the hog barn's ventilation, but quick action saved the hogs and kept the manure within hastily-built snow banks.

"If it had happened during spring runoff, it would have been far worse," said business consultant Johann Sigurdson, who helped the colony manage the disaster.

Without snow to hold it back, the hog manure could have drained into a river that runs through the Peguis and Fisher River First Nations before emptying into Lake Winnipeg.

As it was, the cleanup cost the colony about $100,000, Sigurdson estimates.

Tom Struthers, who owns the Winnipeg Managro dealership that sells Slurrystore tanks, said the 11-year-old open-topped tank split while colony workers were drawing off liquid.

He said the manufacturer has long warned farmers against doing that in winter because the weight of suspended ice hanging from the sides can make the tank crumple like a coke can. 

"I don't think anybody would knowingly do that now," Struthers said.

There are special procedures that can be used to safely empty a tank in winter in an emergency, he said.

In his report to the colony, Winnipeg engineer Frank Roberts claimed corrosion had reduced the Marble Ridge tank shell to half its normal thickness in some places. "While it would certainly be possible for movement of ice to exert pressure on the shell, there was no evidence of damage on the surface of the tank shell to indicate this was a factor," he wrote.

Any corrosion on the glass-coated steel tank may have been caused by previous damage from misuse of the tank in winter, Struthers said.

After a spill last year from another steel tank in MacGregor, provincial officials suggested metal fatigue may have been a contributing factor. Managro and manufacturer Engineered Storage Products of Illinois said the panels -- which they did not assemble -- were not put together properly.

Struthers said there have been no problems with about 40 tanks his company installed in Manitoba, as long as they are used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The colony plans to replace its tank with concrete tanks. Struthers said concrete tanks have their own problems because they are partly underground, making leaks harder to detect.

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Province Failing to Monitor Hog Industry: Watchdogs
CBC Manitoba
October 7, 2003
"These are the sort of things that damage the public's confidence in the whole ability of the department to serve the public good."

Manitoba's Conservation department admits it slipped up in its handling of a hog manure spill this spring – and now it's scrambling to rectify the problem.

The spill happened in the Interlake in May. A tank of manure tipped over into a ditch, spilling almost 18,000 litres. A "suck truck" was called in to remove as much of the manure as possible, but because the ditch was dry at the time, Conservation Department officials say most of the manure soaked into the ground.

Soil samples were ordered, but staff later changed their minds, and the samples were never taken.

"There should have been a sample taken," says Don Cook, acting assistant deputy minister of the department. "When it was determined it hadn't been taken, it's been taken now."

Conservation officials say the environment officer at the scene was new and acted on bad advice, but they add they are confident the soil tests will prove no damage was done.

• More inspectors needed? •

Fred Tait of the environmental group Hogwatch is appalled: "Well, that's pretty slap-happy procedure. Why would you not do that testing? This is a major spill."

"Under what logic would you not do the soil test? Because you don't know until you've done the soil test what sort of level of contaminant there could be there that could be exposed to the surface water, that runs down that ditch. These are the sort of things that damage the public's confidence in the whole ability of the department to serve the public good."

Tait says what makes it worse is that department officials didn't even realize the samples were not taken until contacted by CBC News. The samples were ordered only after CBC News asked for the test results. Tait isn't surprised by the way the government handled this case; he says the hog industry has exploded in recent years, but the Conservation Department has fallen behind.

"It's only very recently they were still looking for the barns – they didn't know where the barns were around the province," he says.

Tait fears that new regulations being introduced this fall will go unenforced. He says the number of inspectors should be at least tripled.

Conservation Minister Steve Ashton says he will increase resources if necessary, but he would not commit to a specific amount.

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