A few months ago, the Government of Manitoba invited input from the public on a proposal to expand production of protein-rich food, whether plant or animal-based, in this province. It claims, meeting this fast-growing global demand offers much bigger opportunities than those which have existed before, for both farmers and investors. The province has embarked on a massive expansion of its industrial pork industry by relaxing both health and environmental regulations and obviously hopes through this new initiative, to make it even bigger.
In this in-depth article, long-time farm activist and livestock producer, Ruth Pryzer, offers many valuable insights into why this all needs to be taken with several grains of salt.
by Ruth Pryzner
These Bills erode the capacity for people to meaningfully participate in decisions about how their communities will develop and erodes people's rights and ability to protect themselves from the agenda of international corporate capital and the industrial food production system. When a government's priorities centre on supporting big business and the industrial model of producing food, the expected results will not be positive for farmers or the public interest.
Bill 19 in particular was designed to reduce and remove the ability for rural people to say no to the expansion of the hog industry and the imposition and placement of large livestock feedlots and confinement facilities in their backyards.
Numerous pieces of legislation establish such rights. Some legislation such as The Environment Act and Planning Act purport to provide the means to protect people from pollutants and substances that are detrimental to their quality of life and health. When it comes to industrial hog, cattle, sheep and poultry production, these negative impacts are essentially minimized and dismissed by those administering legislation and regulations. For example, the livestock Technical Review Committee interprets legislation and regulation as they determine and almost always recommend that a proposal should be approved. Unmanageable environmental problems are asserted to be mitigable. I have read hundreds of TRC reports and without exception, real potential environmental problems are minimized. Now, what is built into the government's review structure is the acceptance of proposals that do not have enough spread acres to assimilate phosphorus in manure at annual crop removal rates. Government and the TRC deem a proposed livestock operation to be acceptable if enough spread acres are available at twice the phosphorus crop removal rate.
permits the loading of phosphorus onto land up to 823 lbs/acre of Olsen soil test P205. Made in Manitoba Science and reports from world-renowned scientists such as Andrew Sharpley show that the leaky soil bucket is full when approaching the level where phosphorus starts to be regulated in the LMMMR. When more phosphorus is added approaching or exceeding 276 lbs/acre of soil test P, there is an exponential loss of P to the environment. That is what the science says, yet decisions to allow industrial livestock operations are occurring with no regard for this scientific fact. Soil test or labile P is only 10% of the amount of P that is in the soil at the time the soil test is taken. This is standard curriculum from Alberta soil science university experts. This means that the total P in an acre of soil that can accrue as sanctioned by the LMMMR is 8230lbs/acre. Don Flaten et al in their report to the Clean Environment Commission's review of the hog industry in 2007 reports that the annual average crop removal rate of P in Manitoba is 20.47lbs/acre. This shows that the regulation was designed to facilitate the waste disposal and polluting practices of industrial methods of producing livestock.
The Environment Act defines a pollutant as “ any solid, liquid, gas, smoke, waste, odour, heat, sound, vibration, radiation, or a combination of any of them that is foreign to or in excess of the natural constituents of the environment, and
|A typical slough in southern Manitoba. A PinP photo.|
|Manitoba beekeeper, Tim Wendel.|
A PinP photo.
|The deadly Candida auris fungus.|
Wikimedia public domain.
It should also respect the needs of livestock as sentient beings rather than treating them as merely meat/protein commodities on legs.