Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Strathclair hog barn operator not in compliance with laws - Hogwatch Manitoba

Dear Editor,

Politics, not law, are driving Yellowhead Council’s response to 
Hog Watch Manitoba’s revelations about a hog barn expansion 
near Strathclair.  

(See B.G. story, here.)

Claims that its “investigation” reveals the operator was “found to 
be in compliance with laws and regulations” as reported in the 
October 24 Brandon Sun are false.

Council’s informal plan to have taxpayers pay someone to count 
the Maple Leaf-owned pigs at this so-called family farm is a 
diversion designed to give the offender time to fix problems 
documented by Hog Watch. Counting pigs helps them evade their 
responsibility to regulate on the maximum number and type of pigs 
a barn can hold. 

Governments’ honour system has led to the approval of a new barn 
without making sure there is sufficient capacity to stor
manure.  Only after the barn was built, over a thousand pigs put in
 it this spring, Hog Watch sounded an alarm and municipal 
officials spoke to the operator, was an application made for a 
provincial manure storage expansion permit.

 The law is that any size of operation using earthen manure 
storages have at least 400 days storage capacity. This operator’s 
engineer October 5 letter to Council admits current storage 
capacity is only 253 days and an application for a provincial 
permit submitted only recently.  There was no mention if a water 
rights licence had been submitted or obtained since Hog Watch 

When the building application was made, the law required all 
expanding pig operations, big or small, to file manure management 
plans.  This provided some check on having enough suitable 
manure spread lands.  It is now obvious why the Pallister 
government eliminated this rule.  It makes it easier and cheaper for 
the hog industry to expand.  It exposes people to the effects of 
environmental and surface water nutrient pollution from the hog 

Council ignored their own Zoning By-Law regarding required 
spread lands. While the engineer’s manipulation of pig numbers 
down to 297 Animal Units (AUs) appears to justify the operator 
not having to go through a conditional use hearing and provincial 
technical review (triggered at 300 AUs), the zoning by-law clearly 
states any livestock operation producing over 75 animal units of 
manure has to “provide enough suitable land… to dispose of the 
manure in a fashion which will not pollute the land.”  Counting 
pigs can’t fix these violations of the law.  
Wim Verbruggen publicly asserted in the
 Sun that I, acting on 
behalf of Hog Watch is telling “lies, lies, lies.” The evidence 
speaks for itself. Just like evidence heard by Oakview Council 
from a local resident during the conditional use hearing on his 
2016 proposal for a 6000 head-capacity finisher operation that was 
rejected. The manure storage site selected and sanctioned by a 
different engineer, was shown to be illegal. A fact ignored by the 
Provincial Technical Review Committee.  Another provincial rule 
change now allows such manure storages to be built on such 
surface watercourses by simply calling them something else.

Governments’ job is to regulate the hog industry by putting the 
public interest first. The honour system, ignoring facts and the law 
while attempting to count pigs to give an offender time to become 
compliant after-the-fact is dangerous practice and sends a troubling 
message to the industry.  You can break the law and if you get 
caught, we’ll help fix it for you. This approach rewards 
lawbreakers, rather than prosecuting them and does nothing to 
protect people and the environment.

Ruth Pryzner
Hog Watch member

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