By Bruce Cochrane
Keystone Agricultural Producers is calling on the Manitoba government to ease restrictions on new hog barn construction that are impacting the ability of the pork processing sector to access hogs.
Bill 46, passed in Manitoba in mid-2011, contains a range of provisions intended to reduce the amount of nutrients entering Lake Winnipeg including extending a 2008 moratorium on new hog barn construction or expansion in eastern Manitoba, to the entire province.
The impact those changes are now having on pork processors was discussed last week as part of Keystone Agricultural Producers general council meeting in Brandon.
KAP president Doug Chorney says, as a result of the restrictions, hog production facilities that have gone out of production have not been replaced reducing the number of hogs available for processing.
Doug Chorney-Keystone Agricultural Producers:
The key restriction that came up was that you would essentially have to have a sewage treatment plant at every barn construction site similar to a municipal treatment system and that's just not practical, cost effective or efficient on a farm level operation.
We know there's technologies in place that are science based that very effectively deal with manure, farmers are very good stewards of manure management practices, we know crop removal rates are respected when manure is applied and injection is used almost exclusively.
I think 98 percent of farms in Manitoba do it.
We don't think there's a problem.
We think this was an ill thought out policy and has had dire consequences that we're now seeing come to fruition with Maple Leaf finding it hard to source hogs.
They've had to slow down their lines, they've had to go down a shorter work week, it's had a lot of consequences on the overall plant's efficiency.
They're trying to maintain all of their employees because they're hopeful they can turn this around and go back to full capacity but the outlook is difficult when we have this restrictive policy by our provincial government.
Chorney says the hog and cattle industries buy a lot of grain so it's crucial to have a successful livestock sector to support a grain sector.