Hogs

With the disappearance of the Crow Rate in the early 1990's, which provided financial support for grain transport across the prairies and the implementation of deregulatory measures such as the removal of a single desk for marketing hogs (pdf – See Fred Tait’s Pork, Politics and Power), Manitoba paved the way for major hog expansion. This expansion was created through the subsidization of a new state of the art Maple Leaf Pork slaughterhouse facility located in Brandon Manitoba, capable of killing up to five million hogs a year by running two shifts.

In response to the Maple Leaf facility, the Sierra Club Prairie Chapter and Westman Community Action Coalition initiated an independent investigation to look at the potential impacts of large-scale hog production and processing in Manitoba. The Commissioners' Report on the Citizens' Hearing on Hog Production and the Environment traced the problems of the hog industry in other parts of North America and predicted similarities will be mirrored in Manitoba. This gathering of like-minded citizens and organizations also served as a catalyst towards the creation of Hog Watch Manitoba a coalition of environmental groups, farmers, friends of animals, social justice advocates, trade unionists and scientists concerned about the industrialization of livestock raising in Manitoba.

To placate this growing movement, the Manitoba Government conducted a token review of the sustainability of the industry in late 2000 and concluded that even though little is known about the environmental and community impacts of the hog industry in Manitoba, the industry can continue to expand as long as there is enough monitoring and enforcement.

Manitoba now leads all provinces in hogs marketed and as of 2009 marketed over eight million hogs for that year. This is a 270% increase from a decade ago.

Maple Leaf Pork has restructured its entire Canadian Pork division and will concentrate most of its Canadian hog operations in Manitoba. The Maple Leaf slaughterhouse will expand to a full second shift killing 100,000 hogs per week by early 2009 based on an earlier environmental hearing by the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (Manitoba CEC) which allowed Maple Leaf to increase their kill capacity .

Recently Hytek another large vertically intregrated pork producer in Manitoba, purchased the Springhill Farm slaughterhouse plant located in Neepawa, and intends to increase slaughter capacity by 50% to 1.4 million hogs per year by mid-2009.

To mollify the current government's lack lustre environmental and agricultural tract record and the fact that Lake Winnipeg is in a state of eutrophication (pdf) from excess phosphorus runoff, the Minister of Conservation asked the Manitoba CEC to conduct yet another review of the sustainability of the hog industry The 2008 Manitoba CEC report recommendations were business as usual. For more information on Manitoba’s current hog industry, see www.friendlymanitoba.org.