It won’t be a repeat of hog barn boom of the 1990s, but with growing concern about not having enough pigs to supply the province’s two major hog processing plants, the Manitoba government has agreed to allow new barns to be built in the province once again.
The NDP government implemented a moratorium on hog barn construction and expansion in the southeast corner of the province in 2008, and then extended the ban across the province in 2011. The Manitoba Pork Council now says it has reached a deal with the province that will ease the restrictions and allow limited construction of new barns, likely west of the Red River.
“The province is not going to change the legislation or the regulations, but there is discretion for the director to allow for alternative technologies,” explains Manitoba Pork’s general manager Andrew Dickson in the above video. “The province has agreed to allow the use of multi-cell storage facilities as a means of trying to separate the manure and to essentially have two nutrient streams that will be applied to fields.”
The need for more pigs to maintain the viability of Maple Leaf’s hog processing plant at Brandon and the HyLife Foods facility at Neepawa — both large employers — was a major driver behind the government’s decision, he says. Maple Leaf had already reduced its slaughter schedule by one day a month due to a shortage of pigs.
The intent of the moratorium — keeping phosphorus out of Lake Winnipeg — remains a priority for the province, so Dickson says the limited number of new barns will have to meet strict criteria:
- multi-cell manure storage systems, similar to municipal lagoons.
- manure must be injected into arable land with phosphorus levels not exceeding 60 parts per million.
- a direct connection to a processing plant (meaning it will likely be limited to finishing barns.)
- the province’s preferred location is west of the Red River.
- must go through usual conditional use hearing process and municipal approvals.
“Hopefully we can build some barns this year, but the normal approval process takes five to six months so my feeling is actual construction on new operations probably own’t happen until 2016,” says Dickson. “That’s probably being a little pessimistic, but that’s what it looks like right now.”
Related story: Is It Time to Invest in Pigs Again?
If you would like more information on the possibility of building a new barn or expanding an existing one, the Manitoba Pork Council suggests contacting their manager of sustainable development at 204-235-2309 or [email protected].