Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/11/2018 (375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Yellowhead Rural Municipality council has opted to not conduct a count of pigs on a hog farmer’s alleged illegal expansion to a barn in the area, due to concerns of wasting taxpayer money.
Yellowhead Mayor Merv Starzyk said that council had concerns that the cost of hiring a third-party veterinarian to conduct the venture was too high to justify.
Council was first alerted to the barn in question in late September by the watchdog group Hog Watch.
The group raised the red flag after the farm allegedly failed to meet provincial regulations in terms of hog capacity. Other concerns included a failure to hold a conditional-use hearing, an insufficient manure storage capacity and the potential effects on water quality and capacity, created by the alleged barn expansion.
The barn allegedly houses 300 animal units, resulting in no need for a conditional-use hearing, Starzyk said.
“If Hog Watch wanted to do it (the count) they would have to do it themselves, and pay the costs,” Starzyk said, “If there’s no problem, why should the taxpayer cover it?”
At a regular council meeting on Tuesday, it was decided that after checking the operation and finding it met the necessary requirements, especially in regards to the barn’s hog capacity, a count would not be pursued.
While disappointed with the decision, Hog Watch member Ruth Pryzner was not surprised.
Pryzner repeatedly raised concerns that it was the size of the barn, not the actual number of hogs present, that needed to be addressed.
“If the municipality doesn’t want to do that, it sends a bad signal to other producers and shows that the system isn’t working,” Pryzner said.
The barn, owned by farmer Wim Verbruggen, is alleged to have undertaken an operational expansion that violates current laws and regulations. The hogs at the facility are owned by Maple Leaf.
While council was able to get permission from the operator of the barn and Maple Leaf to count the pigs, the cost of such an undertaking was deemed to be too high.
“The costs that were going to be incurred are questionable,” Starzyk said.
A veterinarian was consulted regarding a count; an endeavour that would have taken several hours at regular vet fees.
Further, the veterinarian, Verbruggen and Maple Leaf raised concerns regarding how a count would create stress in the hogs, Starzyk said.
“I hope that we’ve resolved this particular issue,” Starzyk said.
Hog Watch will continue to pursue the issues surrounding the hog barn and will next be speaking with the province.
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