Requirements for Setting up Hog Operations

Ron Bazylo, Manitoba Agriculture and Food, Swan River

Manitoba's pork industry has undergone significant changes, both in size and production methods. It has become a specialized industry, showing a high degree of integration between livestock and crop production. To remain competitive, hog operations have become much larger and are more capital intensive than the farms of twenty years ago.

There are many regulations and guidelines to consider before new operations are constructed. Some of the requirements are the responsibility of the local municipality government and others are provincial. Local municipalities are ultimately responsible for land use and regulate the location and operation of livestock production operations. The proponents must first provide the municipality with all the details of their proposal and complete an information sheet. The municipality then contacts the Regional Technical Review Committee, composed of representatives from Manitoba Agriculture and Food, Conservation, and Inter-Governmental Affairs, to request a technical review of the proposed operation to see if all the guidelines and regulations are met. The Committee must complete the report within 30 days, after which a conditional use hearing his held. All residents within close proximity to the proposed site are notified. The R.M. Council uses the information from the Technical Review Committee Report and the conditional use hearing to make a decision as to whether or not to grant a permit.

Provincial requirements for setting up of hog operations are dealt with under the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation under the Environment Act. This regulation deals with pollution concerns in the area of storage, application and transportation of manure, as well as disposal of mortalities.

All manure storages require a permit from Manitoba Conservation prior to construction. The design, construction supervision, and final certification must be done by a professional engineer. Under the regulation, all operations over 400 animal units must complete a Manure Management Plan. This requires identification of spread fields, soil testing of the fields, and nutrient analysis of the manure so that the manure application rate can be matched to crop nutrient requirements. The regulation also bans winter manure application for operations over 400 animal units and describes acceptable methods for disposal of mortalities.

If the operation uses over 5500 imperial gallons of water per day, a water license will be required. An application is submitted to the Water Licensing Section of the Water Resources Branch and a review is carried out. If the water supply is available, a license is issued which will specify allowable annual withdrawal rates.

When planning a hog operation, the selection of an appropriate site is a critical aspect in the planning stage. One of the key elements to successful siting of a livestock is to observe appropriate separation distance from residences, recreational areas, property lines, watercourse, wells, etc. These requirements are outlined in the Farm Practices Guidelines for Hog Producers.

The Guidelines also describes manure management systems and practices designed to protect the environment, reduce the risk of pollution, and minimize odours.

Hog operations have a lot of economic benefits for a community. It is in the best interest of everyone if siting is carried out as carefully as possible.