By Marianne Hanishewski, Concerned
Citizens for a Safe and Healthy Environment, Buchanan, SK
REDA is coming! REDA (Regional Economic Development Authority) is coming!
That’s your first hint that the hog barn companies are interested
in your area. The REDA
representatives convince the communities that they are depressed – that
they need to do desperate things for desperate times.
They tell the community leaders to check out their computer
program, to notify prospective companies that the community has water
resources cheap! So community
leaders get a web page. Within
a short while, voila! The pig
companies are asking questions, the feedlot companies are asking
questions, and chicken farm operations are snooping around.
Then the bargaining starts.
REDA tells the community leaders that they need investors first.
So a group of community leaders pull their money together.
That is the catalyst for community division because these people
can’t get any money back unless a hog barn project goes up. Then the hog barn company gives the leaders a petition to
circulate to promote economic development with the intent of approving hog
barn production sites. Then
the farmers in financial dire straits are approached with offers to buy
their land at inflated prices – an offer that is hard to refuse.
After selecting several possible
sites, the local investors group campaigns vigorously to get local
farmers’ consent for using their land for manure disposal.
After they get farmers’ signatures, they tell local farmers the
potential hog barn sites will be near their property (within one to four
Then the public meetings happen.
That’s the time to get concerned and act!!
Don’t wait for the permit approval process.
Ask Sask Ag and Food (SAF) lots of questions and search out several
environmental advocacy groups. They
are a tremendous help in preparing you for the big battle ahead.
Collect piles of information because you will need it for your
media campaign. Take your
arguments to the local papers; avoid direct confrontation with pro-hog
campaigners because it only fans the fire.
Arrange for local concerned citizens to have meetings once a week
in a public building.
In our experience, we have found
that Departments of Health, SERM and SaskWater have no clout in the
decision-making process. Approval
of permit applications rests with SAF.
In questioning SAF, we found their
replies to be very evasive. We
found out that the farmers giving consent to manure disposal are the ones
who can be held liable for contamination under Saskatchewan law. That is a good attention grabber for the local papers.
We have been able to convince farmers not to sign consent forms for
manure disposal. That was how we were able to slow down the process of
approval. If the hog barn
company doesn’t have enough allocated land around a barn site, they
can’t get permit approval from SAF.
We paced newspaper coverage at
about one article every two weeks in the local papers.
Then we went to larger papers in the region, and then to the
largest newspaper in the province to make the corporate investors a little
nervous. Be prepared to
submit about 20 news articles because that is what it takes for
Saskatchewan residents to get thinking about it, and doing something about
When you start feeling more
support behind you, it is time to get a petition circulating.
Also provide many presentations to the RM Council because it has to
approve the building permit. Expect
lots of opposition there because the proponents have done a good job at
massaging the councillors’ egos and prepared them with biased comments.
Concerned citizens are labelled as “anti-hog people” or
“rebels with sensitive noses”.
Our group has only one rule:
Don’t lie. By giving
each person free reign, we have been able to do as much damage as possible
to the corporate hog barn campaign.
ask lots of questions at
blitz newspapers with articles
and Dear Editor comments
exchange information with
parties with same views
lots of letters to SAF after permit application is submitted for
approval. That will keep
the department very busy
do presentations to local
government and other interested agencies
landowners about liability clauses
get petitions out
go to the Ombudsman with your
whatever it takes to play the hog barn company out
create lots of monitoring
regulations – big boy doesn’t like being watched!
“Washing one’s hands of the
conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the
powerful, not to be neutral.” Paulo