Regulatory Framework

Deregulation of the industry has meant that marketing of hogs is no longer done through a single desk. Modifications were also made to the Farm Land Ownership Act, which encouraged out of province investors to own barns in Manitoba and the Farm Practices Protection Act, restricts the ability for citizens to sue for nuisance, under common law, if they live near a factory farm.

Recent amendments to the Planning Act require a local government to hold a conditional use hearing for any livestock application that is larger than 300 animal units (2100 finishing hogs, 60,000 broiler chicken or 390 feeder cattle). However a local municipal government can no longer place greater environmental protection measures through conditions of approval for managing livestock operations or the manure derived from an operation. Local decision-makers will not be allowed to place stricter rules for the protection of their citizen's health and environment. The Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation (pdf) under the Environment Act sets the maximum threshold for managing manure in Manitoba. The regulation includes permitting a manure storage facility, submitting a manure management plan, applying manure based on the agronomic rate for nutrients (P an N) and disposing of mortalities in a proper fashion.

Local rural municipalities and planning districts are now required to develop a livestock operational policy in their development plan which will guide zoning by-laws dealing with livestock.

An Under Regulated Industry

Large factory farms are not classified as a class of development (pdf) under the Environment Act and are therefore exempt from the normal environmental assessment and review process, which provides citizens the right to have input into the environmental decision-making process. There is no requirement to monitor or regulate gases such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane that escape an operator's property. For example, the oil and gas industry in Manitoba are required to regulate hydrogen sulfide at the property line by keeping concentrations less than 11 parts per billion, over a one hour average, and 4 parts per billion, over a 24 hour average. Manitoba air quality guidelines also exist for ammonia and maximum acceptable levels of concentration are set at 200 parts per billion.

Farm workers, who work in factory like conditions, are not classified compulsory under the Workers Compensation Act, nor are they covered under the Employment Standards Code. There is also no indication that occupational and community illnesses caused by factory farming are adequately tracked and reported and whether the Public Health Act provides any oversight in Manitoba.

The only other environmental requirement, besides meeting the conditions of the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management regulation, is that an operator who uses more than 25,000 liters of water per day must apply for a permit under the Water Right's Act. However, there are no public notification requirements under the Water Rights Act for developments that utilize less than 200 cubic dam per year.