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When Canadians travel from coast to coast on the number one, they have a tendency to step on the gas a little harder when going through the prairies. In parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan it's probably just a reaction to convince yourself that you really are moving through the landscape.

By the time yon get to Manitoba, there's a wee bit more variety in the geography, but not much. And in some parts, there's a new reason to keep the pedal to the metal.

Hog farms.

Not just a few porkers on the grange, either. We're talking hog production heaven. And the more hogs you produce, the more biodegradable waste material hits the revolving air mover.

Few people, it seems, are enamoured of the smell of hog waste. I can sympathize. I grew up on a chicken farm, and although chicken excreta slinks a fair bit, it isn't a patch on the vapours coming off a lagoon of pig ejecta on a hot summer's day. There was a pig farm at the end of our road, and if I happened to pedal by when the wind was blowing from the lagoon, I had to rush home and stick my head in a chicken barn to recuperate. I suppose this explains a lot.

It's more than 20 years since I lived on a farm, and I don't want to sound like some city-dwelling weenie, but I think we have to do something about the waste coming out of these huge hog operations before a great gaseous cloud escapes from one of them and wanders around the country like Joe Clark looking for the Progressive Conservative party. Do you remember the Sarnia Blob? This is the same idea, only worse, because the Sarnia Blob was at the bottom of a river, where only lawyers were affected. It sort of makes me wonder why we can't use more lawyers to solve problems like this. Use the force for good, Luke! I mean how many environmental lawyers do you know? I had a look through the lawyer listings in the Winnipeg phone book, and about the only thing remotely environmental I saw were the names of a couple of well-known weasels.

Proponents of these huge hog operations say they're a great way to save small rural communities. Put in a farrow-to-finish operation cranking out a half million pigs a year, and my guess is you'll need a good supply of gas masks and bottled water too. "Hey, Timmy, why don't you go play outside with all the other rural kids? Just a minute wbile Mommy operates the airlock."

Now that's a pig in a poke if I've ever heard one.

David Harms is a writer, software developer, and web publisher living in Winnipeg.

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Title Annotation:environmental aspects of hog farms in Canada
Author:Harms, David
Publication:Alternatives Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2000
Previous Article:Letters.

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