Friday, June 23, 2023
Title: Manitobans deserve transparency, not unsubstantiated environmental claims from their pork sector
Hog Watch Manitoba, a non-profit, advocacy group, says it believes a recent claim by Manitoba Pork about how much water it is using, needs more proof.
In a newspaper ad, the industry organization declares, “Hog farms today require 40% less water per kilogram of pork produced, compared to ﬁfty years ago.”
Larry Powell of Hog Watch says this doesn’t tell the whole story.
“Even if consumption per unit has gone down, what does it matter when that figure is surely being eclipsed by rising animal numbers? There are well over three times as many pigs on Manitoba farms now as there were half-a-century ago.
“Not only that, the use of slurry, which has been spread on vast farm fields in this province for decades, is more than 80% water. It’s been on the increase since the nineties.
“A University of Manitoba study concluded that pigs produced 346 thousand tonnes of dry manure in 2007 alone. Since the spreading of slurry was a common and growing practise, even back then, it must surely have added up to a staggering total.
“Besides, research by the industry itself shows finisher pigs can waste up to 25% of the water they use, even from ‘well-managed’ nipple-drinkers.”
Powell adds, there’s good reason the public deserves full disclosure on this vital issue.
“Experts have long been warning, ‘As climate change tightens its grip, multi-year droughts are taking a severe toll, especially on cattle and grain producers. With drought and heatwaves becoming a worsening problem on the semi-arid Canadian prairies, competition for a diminishing supply of water will become a major problem in the future. And excess use of water by this industry may be a threat to both local and regional water sources.’
“So if Manitoba Pork wants to be seen as a good corporate citizen, the people of this province need more assurance than this, that our finite supply of freshwater can sustain it, indefinitely into the future.”
Hog Watch Manitoba is a non-profit organization, a coalition of environmentalists, farmers, friends of animals, social justice advocates, scientists and concerned citizens. We are promoting a hog industry in Manitoba that is ethically, environmentally, and economically sustainable.
Data for this statement comes from Statistics Canada, Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the MB Clean Environment Commission.