While the term “sustainability” also includes social and economic viewpoints, we most often think of the environment. We tend to give pause to top-of-mind environmental impacts like energy and fuel consumption, water usage and carbon emissions, but our thoughts may also turn to where our food comes from and the environmental footprint of food production. Manitoba’s hog sector is proud to provide a high-quality protein that is safe, affordable, and produced sustainably while reducing its environmental impact.

“We all know that both food production and agriculture have an impact on the environment,” says Tricia Schmalenberg, a professional engineer with Maple Leaf Agri-Farms. “We’re trying to do our best to reduce that impact and reduce our carbon emissions.”

Maple Leaf Foods is one example of the hog sector taking a leadership role in reducing carbon emissions while producing pork to the highest quality standard. Maple Leaf Foods has set science-based targets for greenhouse gas emissions, aligned with the Paris Climate Accord, with a goal of further reducing its carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. The Canadian pork sector is a global leader when it comes to reducing emissions. A 2017 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that Canada produces far less carbon than other pork-producing parts of the world, including Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Today’s hog barns are an example of sustainability in action. Thanks to technological advances, lights, fans, and heating and cooling systems use significantly less energy than they once did, and electronic feeders ensure pigs are well fed while reducing the amount of wasted feed, increasing efficiency. Furthermore, hog farms today require 40 per cent less water, 33 per cent less feed, and as much as 59 per cent less land for every kilogram of pork produced compared to 50 years ago. Since 2014, Maple Leaf Foods alone has reduced its water consumption by the equivalent of about 18,000 Olympic swimming pools and taken the equivalent of 10,000 cars off the road.

The hog sector’s handling of manure is another example of its commitment to sustainability. 100 per cent of the manure produced at Maple Leaf Agri-Farms is returned to the land as natural, organic fertilizer. Often called “liquid gold,” organic fertilizer like manure provides nutrients to crops in a way that no other fertilizer can match.

“I am really enthusiastic about the future of agriculture in Manitoba,” Schmalenberg added. “Farmers have been stewards of the land for decades, and combining sustainability initiatives with their knowledge of the land will make for a great future in agriculture.”

Manitoba hog farmers regularly invest in research, adopting new and emerging nutrient management methods, technology, and best management practices to further lessen environmental impact. They follow stringent legislation and regulations to ensure not only the sustainability of the hog sector, but that our natural environment is preserved for future generations. This includes working with subject matter experts including environmental engineers like Tricia as well as professionals like scientists and agrologists to ensure our land and waterways are left in a better condition than they were found. Provincially regulated manure management plans help ensure that farmers apply manure based on the nutrient levels each crop needs, and at specific times of year to prevent runoff and protect waterways. Manure management plans are overseen by experts, and stringent environmental regulations ensure that watersheds are safeguarded.

Policymakers, including provincial and municipal governments, have a role to play as well as they approve new barn developments with the best interests of their constituents and landowners in mind. Science-based regulations, coupled with strong oversight from all levels of government, ensure that Manitoba’s hog sector continues to grow in a sustainable way. The approval process for new barns and barn expansions includes a provincial technical review, which includes hearing from community members, as well as a local public hearing.

Above all, farmers recognize the importance of being good stewards of the land, water, and air — their livelihoods are directly tied to the quality of the natural resources around them. To produce the food we all depend on, farmers know that sustainability and innovation must go hand in hand. Hog farmers from across our province utilize experts and technological advances to reduce their carbon and environmental footprints while ensuring that Manitoba pork is raised to the highest standard.

To learn more, visit manitobapork.com/environment

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Manitoba Pork represents 624 Manitoba hog farms

Manitoba Pork

Manitoba Pork’s office at 28 Terracon Place is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, closed from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. for lunch. As much as possible, please contact by emailing or phoning in requests for information, ear tags, and other resources. Contact us by phone, fax, email or regular mail.

Tel: 204-237-7447
Fax: 204-237-9831
24-hour Emergency Contact Line: 1-833-310-0108

28 Terracon Place
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
R2J 4G7