By Marianne Friesen (My very first editorial)
The subject of the expansion of the hog industry in Southern Manitoba, has every one thinking, eating and dreaming hogs. The smell, the mess, the contamination of water, are just to name a few of the many concerns that have neighbors and friends at each others throats.
I have had the pleasure of sitting in on many a special meeting or council meeting in the past nine months, and I don’t envy the tasks that Councilors have to go through when determining if they should approve or disapprove these large scale operations. I also have to commend them for holding their ground regardless of the opposition that they are faced with.
I have heard the concerns, and I sympathize with all parties. It breaks my heart to hear families beg to be able to keep their livelihood’s in operation, when they are feeling threatened by the “porky walls” that are slowly surrounding them.
At the same time, I can see companies such as Elite Swine, growing and improving the industry. The “hog world” is evolving, and for the better. They are coming up with new and safer innovations and are going out of their way as a company to make this new operations as clean and environmentally sound as possible.
The “family farmers”, the ones that have a “normal operation” are being dragged into this dilemma to, weither protesters are aware of it or not. With every new “stiffer” regulation they are being forced to either spend money that is needed else where, or having to shut down completely, because they were just getting by to begin with.
As for employees of the hog industry, everyone thinks that there are only one or two people who receive employment on this new barns. That is not so. Let us not forget the construction crews that build these barns. Some crews consist of around 15 local laborers. Sure the work on each barn averages around 6 months, but that is a steady income for men with families for years to come if the hog industry keeps growing.
I have seen families torn apart in recent months because of construction crews having to leave the province to work elsewhere in their trade. These are Manitoban’s leaving to find work, or some refuse to leave and have to find work here in trades that they are over qualified for and under paid.
Don’t tell me that only a few benefit from the hog industries growth. I live in a community that is mostly hog and grain farmers, there is at least 2 large barns on each section. We live here, and breathe the air, once in awhile the wind blows over them and you get the “smell of money” as some call it, but at the same time I have seen our town grow and prosper because of them. We have a new arena, new diamonds, and many community based activities that are supported by farmers and businesses that are farm based who have been generous enough to donate when money is needed.
Where do we draw the line? I think that when one side offers the proverbial “olive branch” the other side should reach out and grasp it. With both sides sitting down and discussing concerns and issues, instead of mud slinging and slander all of Manitoba could benefit from this new industry that is slowly making its way into Everyone’s backyards.