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Door opens to hog expansion

Anaerobic digesters out, new barns in

New hog barns will be built Manitoba.

After an all-night session at the Manitoba Legislature, Bill 24 has passed its final reading and received royal assent.

Better known as the Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act, Bill 24 covers legislation ranging from consumer protection and labour relations, to residential tenancies and transportation of dangerous goods, but it has been proposed changes to hog production that garnered the most attention as the legislation made its towards becoming law.

“It’s good news for us of course, to be allowed to build barns without the requirement of an anaerobic digester, so it’s a step in the right direction,” said George Matheson, chairman of the Manitoba Pork Council. “It didn’t surprise me that it passed.”

The newly passed act amends The Environment Act, removing general prohibitions for the expansion of hog barns and manure storage facilities. Bill 24 also strikes the winter manure application ban from the Environment Act, although winter application would continue to be prohibited for all livestock operations in Manitoba under the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation.

While hog producers have never been banned outright from building new barns, the previous requirement that all new barns install costly anaerobic digesters effectively made new barn construction unattainable, the Pork Council has said.

Matheson said it’s possible that some new construction will begin as early as next year.

“I think that in 2018 we might see a few,” he said. “We’ve got the swine development corporation in place to assist producers with that — It’s one thing to be allowed to build barns, it’s another thing to get them built and go through the permitting process.”

He hopes to see an average of 10 new barns built each year for the next 10 years, enough to cover the current hog shortfall experienced by processors in the province.

“I’d say that’s a realistic goal, I hope we build more than that, but I think that’s very doable,” Matheson said.

Keystone Agricultural Producers were also pleased to hear the bill had passed its third reading.

“Clearly the government has made a commitment to taking agricultural issues seriously and dedicating the legislative time necessary to find resolutions to them,” said KAP general manager James Battershill.

The activist group Hog Watch Manitoba had opposed Bill 24, but could not be reached for comment before press time.

— With files from Allan Dawson

About the author

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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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