The provincial government’s move Monday to halt any further development of the hog sector in much of eastern Manitoba doesn’t go far enough, according to a coalition of groups advocating smaller-scale farming.
In a press conference Wednesday in Winnipeg, representatives of groups including HogWatch Manitoba and Beyond Factory Farming called for the provincial government to extend the moratorium provincewide.
The province’s decision followed the release Monday of the provincial Clean Environment Commission’s report on the environmental sustainability of Manitoba’s hog industry.
The decision by Conservation Minister Stan Struthers had immediately come under fire at an opposite angle from the Manitoba Pork Council, which noted the CEC report does not specifically recommend the new moratorium which now covers southeastern Manitoba, much of the Red River’s nearby watershed and the Interlake region.
The province since 2006 had imposed a temporary provincewide moratorium on new hog barns and expansions of existing operations. That “pause,” as the province called it, was lifted Feb. 29.
The coalition representing environmental groups and others opposed to intensive livestock operations (ILOs) attacked both the province and the CEC, claiming the commission’s review was “tainted” and relied on experts whose research is “supported in part by industry associations or corporations.”
The groups also wanted the provincial auditor general to review both the CEC and the province “regarding their failure to protect the best interests of the public through this hog industry review.”
The groups also called for a transition program to help hog farmers either exit the industry or move toward “socially responsible livestock production” including aspects such as organic certification, holistic management, on-farm biodiversity, family or co-op ownership models and animals “raised in an environment where they are able to behave naturally.”
Hog industry expansion is today largely a moot point in much of Canada, as existing hog farms face a storm of unfavourable exchange rates, high feed prices and low returns. The federal government recently pledged $50 million for a cull program to reduce the size of Canada’s swine breeding herd by 10 per cent.