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Hog Industry Supporters Take To The Streets

Supporters of the pork industry and businesses that rely on it came together at the Dutch Meat Market in Winnipeg to launch the next phase of their battle against the province s moratorium on hog-barn development.

In the past, we ve seen the Manitoba Pork Council stand out on their own to talk about these issues, said Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers. What we re doing differently now is we re bringing all of our farm organizations together through KAP to show that we are industry-wide in our support of the pork council.

Under KAP s co-ordination, leaders of several producer groups signed an open letter published in theWinnipeg Free Press calling for an end to the hog-barn moratorium. The newest initiative is a sticker campaign aimed at drawing attention to the number of urban businesses tied to the pork industry.

Business owners are encouraged to place stickers in their shops that read, We support Manitoba s environmentally responsible pork producers.

Chorney said he believes the campaign is having an effect, noting the issue is on the radar of candidates in the Oct. 4th provincial election.

The moratorium could threaten the livelihoods of Manitoba s 500 hog producers, as well as the 11,000 jobs the hog industry provides across the province, said Graham Starmer, president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

We want the public to be aware that it s not just the farm producers out there that are affected, said Starmer. There are businesses out there that rely on the pork industry, and there is a ripple effect some of these rules and regulations have on business persons in downtown Winnipeg.

The current moratorium on hog barn development springs from Bill C-46, the Save Lake Winnipeg Act, which passed this spring with the support of both the government and opposition.

We want to bring out the fact that the government hasn t been playing clean and we need to have them do so in future activities, Starmer told a small crowd at the Dutch Meat Market, a family-owned shop in St. Boniface.

The percentage of nutrients derived from hog production is probably only one or two per cent, so it s minuscule. I think we have a lesson to provide to the opposition as well, as it stands at the moment the conservatives, so that they are aware that all these industries are in fact working towards cleaning up Lake Winnipeg, probably more than the politicians are.

Chorney said the legislation addresses important issues, but takes the wrong approach.

Regulations should allow environmentally responsible producers to grow their business.

There is still an opportunity to fix Bill 46 through regulations, said the KAP president. The enabling aspect is not a bad thing. We want to have government in a position to be able to regulate nutrient loading on the lakes and I don t think you can be against that.

SCAPEGOATS

But the bill makes scapegoats of hog farmers, critics say.

Ron Friesen, vice-president and general manager of Eastman Feeds, said 83 per cent of his business comes from hog producers, including Hutterite communities.

If Hutterite communities are not allowed to expand and maintain their lifestyle, or develop new communities in Manitoba, they will move to other jurisdictions, and where will that leave us? he asked.

Others are concerned about long-term supply. When you re telling someone they can t grow at

all, that is a very big concern, said Marcel Joanisse, owner of the Dutch Meat Market. We don t really know where it is going to stop, so this could keep going to different farming industries.

Joanisse, who learned of the moratorium three weeks ago, fears the inability to expand may close small farms in the long run, shrinking supplies and increasing consumer costs.

However, the market owner said he hasn t had difficulty stocking pork or pork products so far.

Chorney noted the pork industry will continue to make its case, and that new developments in nutrient management are on the way.

Just stay tuned, there is more to come, he said. [email protected]

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Whenyou retelling someonetheycan t growatall,thatis averybigconcern. Wedon treallyknow whereitisgoingto stop,sothiscould keepgoingtodifferent farmingindustries.

MARCEL JOANISSE

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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