It sometimes seems much-to-do-about-nothing with the Manitoba NDP government negotiating with Manitoba Pork Council and its member hog farmers to try and get around the hog barn expansion moratorium.
First, the province suggested using equipment far too costly and that doesn’t work in Manitoba’s cold winters. Now they’re suggesting if the new hog barns farmers want to build in Manitoba under a pilot projects, they must meet or exceed environmental protection offered by anaerobic digestion, the systems to costly and doesn’t work here.
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship says new hog barns built under a new pilot project must meet or exceed the level of environmental protection provided through the use of anaerobic digestion.
In 2011 the Manitoba government banned construction or expansion of swine barns in 35 RMs to the entire province.
Under the new special pilot project permit evaluation protocol, anyone interested in building or expanding a swine operation in Manitoba will now be eligible to apply for a construction permit.
According to retire board chair Karl Kynoch, it is tough enough to get bankers and investors to even look at financing new barns, now this.
Tracey Braun, the director of environmental approvals with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, says the objective of the pilot project is to balance environmental protection with sustainability under the existing legislation.
“The legislation does allow for special permits and pilot projects to be recommended or suggested,” said Braun. “So we worked with Manitoba Pork Council to see if that was one opportunity that we could pursue under the current legislation.”
The criterion the NDP government uses is the level of environment protection for anything under one of these permits would have to meet or exceed the environmental protection of using an anaerobic digester.
“We believe that, if a person or an entity or an organization wishes to make an application to do an expansion, they need to fill out a permit, go through that process, and be able to demonstrate to us they meet that same level of environmental protection.”
She says it is not dissimilar to how they treat the manufacturing industry where someone may want to build a manufacturing plant.
“We tell them what the standards are for environmental protection but we don’t tell them how they have to meet those limits,” adds Braun. “I expect the first applications under the program to come in later this year.”  •
— By Harry Siemens