Manure spreading ban in deadlock

Manitoba’s largest farm lobby says it won’t budge on its opposition to a provincial government proposal to ban winter manure spreading.

But a hog farmer and Keystone Agriculture Producers member said the province’s environment minister doesn’t seem willing to move either.

“We need to get them to look outside their blinders but so far they’ve said we respect your position but ours is still the same,” said Marcel Hacault, of Niverville, adding Manitoba agriculture minister Harry Enns is on side with producers.

Delegates to KAP’s general council meeting Oct. 16 in Brandon endorsed the manure management strategy that calls for valid research into the environmental effect of proper winter spreading and government guidelines to help farmers create individual farm manure management plans.

KAP describes the proposed ban as a “knee jerk reaction to past activities of a few intensively scrutinized investment-type hog operations in Manitoba’s Interlake area.”

Research supporting the ban must be based on Manitoba conditions, delegates agreed, not data coming out of Europe or North Carolina.

“There are a lot of innuendos out there and these statements need to be backed up with what’s happening here,” said one delegate.

New requirement

Hacault said winter storage is a requirement of most large-scale operations going up in the province.

“In other words, winter manure spreading is not an activity that is paralleling the growth in the livestock industry,” the policy reads.

Older operations that spread in the winter will gradually be phased out, Hacault said.

“The problem in our eyes seems to be getting smaller.”

Part of the solution is convincing farmers that manure is a valuable resource wasted by dumping it in the winter.

KAP wants the industry and government to take more time to work together in developing a criteria which would protect the environment and allow existing operations to continue to properly manage winter spreading.

Manitoba Pork is heading up the initiative by forming a Winter Manure Working Group with representation from Manitoba Environment, the University of Manitoba’s soil science department, KAP and other commodity groups.

It has outlined several priorities:

  • Conduct a thorough review of scientific data on winter manure spreading.
  • Develop winter manure spreading plot studies to examine the impact.
  • Look at new technology that would allow producers to use alternative, cost effective methods of spreading manure.
  • Make sustainable farming an ongoing priority in Manitoba.

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