What is Bill 19 – The Planning Amendment Act (Efficiency in Planning)?
It is a series of changes to allow two hog processing corporations Maple Leaf and HyLife Foods, to increase their shareholder profits at the expense of rural homeowners, taxpayers, family farms, degraded air, environment, water quality and pig welfare.
Why Bill 19?
The Manitoba Department of Agriculture advised the Pallister cabinet in a 2017 internal brief that 285 more new barns were needed to “ensure an adequate supply of hogs to the Maple Leaf and HyLife Food slaughter facilities.” And, that “public conflict,” “public pressure” and the locally controlled conditional use approval process are in the way of “growth of the industry.”
How will Bill 19 help the hog industry expand?
Bill 19 will silence the public. It will allow municipal leaders to get rid of conditional use hearings and Provincial Technical Reviews for factory hog barns. If local politicians take this route, the Province will have the only and final say on where hog factories can be built. The Government of Manitoba is and has been both a promoter and regulator of the hog industry. Bill 19 is the latest move to promote and de-regulate hog industry expansion.
Why is Provincial control a problem?
If conditional use disappears, local councils and rural people will not have any say in how factory hog operations perform. Municipalities will have no means of monitoring, enforcing conditions, and protecting local people and the environment from hog operations.
Won’t the hog industry still have to follow some rules?
Yes, once municipal control is surrendered, the industry will still have to follow a few rules to get a manure storage permit and a water rights license. But, these processes are secret and protected by the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Applications and approvals for these permits and licenses are “private business information.” The public and municipal officials will have no idea what the province is doing.
What about Manure Management?
The over-application of phosphorus, even with provincially required manure management plans, will continue. Current rules allow phosphorus loading on spread fields up to 826lbs/acre of soil test P2O5. The average annual crop removal rate of P2O5 by Manitoba crops is reported to be 20.47lbs/acre. The provincial government has stated that water is harmed when soil test P2O5 is 276lbs/acre. 285 more factory farms and 700,000 more finished hogs will exacerbate the long-term water quality problems we experience in surface waterbodies. Millions of tax dollars have already been spent on Lake Winnipeg’s nutrient problem.
What is the Province’s track record?
During the last round of hog industry expansion, provincial approvals to build cheap, seeping manure storages were issued in areas with high water tables (e.g. the Interlake), flood plains, marshes, and groundwater sensitive areas, and where provincial officials knew there were not enough acres to sustainably spread manure. Recently, Provincial officials at the RM of Oakview’s conditional use hearing advocated on behalf of the hog barn applicant for the council’s approval of another cheap, seepage prone, outdated type of earthen manure storage. They would have allowed it to be built illegally on a surface water drainage area. In part, because Oakview rejected the application, the Province changed the rules making such sites legal. Manitoba Agriculture has admitted that since 2012, taxpayers have spent over $19 million to fix problems with these outdated storages.
Can Municipalities keep the conditional use process and all the protections contained in the Planning Act?
Yes. Bill 19 requires all municipalities to make a decision within a year of it becoming law. A simple resolution to keep conditional use is all that is required.
What if a municipality wants to remove conditional use and open its arms to hog factories that they can’t control?
Development Plan by-laws and Zoning by-laws must be changed. Public hearings will have to be held on both by-laws. The mechanism for changing Development Plans will remain the same, but Bill 19 makes it harder for people to object to zoning by-law changes. The Bill requires 25 people, instead of one person, to register formal objections at both 1st and 2nd reading of any zoning by-law, proposing the removal of conditional use for 300+ animal unit livestock operations, to get a Municipal Board hearing. However, only Canadian citizens, eligible for election to Council, can have a say. Any person such as a permanent resident or recent immigrant who has invested in a home, farm, and their community will be denied a voice. A place for the expression of Indigenous people’s concerns have not been considered in Bill 19.
But, isn’t Hog factory production profitable and its expansion good for Manitoba?
Consider this: the Manitoba Pork Council reports that finishing hog producers lost money in eight of the last nine years, ending in 2017. Meanwhile, Maple Leaf’s profits in 2016 tripled in 2017, and the 49.9% Japanese owned HyLife Foods expanded its Neepawa plant with taxpayer help. So, expansion is profitable, but not for hog producers. And, what are the social, environmental, water quality and public health costs of such expansion for Manitobans? Do we want rural communities divided by the Pallister government’s promotion of the hog industry with off-loading of the political fallout onto municipal leaders, our neighbours?
What will happen to the role of Conservation Districts as Watershed Planning Authorities and in encouraging sustainable land use practices?
It is expected that Conservation Districts will be facing a steeper uphill climb to preserve and attempt to repair damage done by unfettered and minimally regulated hog industry expansion.
A request has been made to Maple Leaf and HyLife Foods to support volunteer efforts to assist in the development and implementation of citizen water quality monitoring of phosphorus in ditches and creeks. To date, there has been no response. Anyone interested in helping with this endeavour, or for more information and assistance with taking action on Bill 19, please contact: