13 1/2 Years Needed To Find Hog Data - Government Claims

January 21, 2007

As the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) embarks on the first round of its pork industry review this week, the NDP Government has revealed that it cannot provide vital information on the industry's environmental record until the year 2020.

The revelation came in a letter, received by Ruth Pryzner, a farmer and former Councillor in the Rural Municipality of Daly. Manitoba Conservation's Access and Privacy Co-ordinator signed the letter, which is dated December 22, 2006.

Last November, Pryzner submitted a number of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) requests to Manitoba Conservation for basic environmental data relating to the Pork Industry, in order to prepare a submission to the CEC review.

The letter to Pryzner stated, "The department requested an extension of 13 years and six months to fully complete your requests. The Manitoba Ombudsman concurred with this request...." Normally, extensions of FIPPA response time requirements are for 30 days.

Pryzner's reaction: "Either they don't have this information, which raises a real issue of competency, or they want to keep it hidden from the public, using FIPPA and the Ombudsman as shields, which clearly undermines democracy, transparency and accountability of government, and the public's right to know. In either case, the situation is totally unacceptable and represents a disservice to the public interest."

Included in the request were annual soil test data, manure management plans, inspection reports, well drilling logs and permit applications for each hog operation licensed by the Province.

"This information is absolutely essential for a serious assessment of the environmental sustainability of the pork industry in Manitoba," Pryzner said. "Without the actual environmental data, the CEC will be prevented from properly executing its mandate, and the exercise will be a waste of time, money and energy."

She added, "If it will take 13 1/2 years for Conservation to supply this information, then obviously the moratorium on hog expansion ought to be extended until 2020 so that the CEC can obtain the information required to properly complete it's work."

Glen Koroluk, a community organizer with the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition agrees: "Manitoba Conservation does not appear to have either the capacity or the desire to provide vital information on the pork industry, which the public is lawfully entitled to receive in a timely fashion. Indeed, the department still does not even know where all the hog barns and lagoons are located throughout the province. It's scandalous."

"This stonewalling by Manitoba Conservation only serves to compromise the integrity of the CEC review process, even before it begins," he said. "This is not what the people of Manitoba expect from its provincial government on this important issue."

In this context, Koroluk noted: "We are further disappointed that Minister Struthers is still reluctant to call full-blown hearings for the hog industry review." He added, "without powers of subpoena, sworn testimony, cross examination, the ability to call for motions and the support of the Manitoba Evidence Act, this review will be nothing more than a pre-election gesture designed to shore up faltering public support because of the NDP government's neglect of the environment."

For further information and interview contact: Ruth Pryzner (204) 328-5385 Glen Koroluk (204) 296-2872 (cell) or (204) 943-3945 Beyond Factory Farming Coalition (www.beyondfactoryfarming.org)

Copies of the FIPPA information response can be obtained from Mr. Koroluk at the opening of the CEC meetings, Monday, January 22, 2007, 12:30 pm, Friedensfeld Community Hall (4kms south of Steinbach)