(The full report from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada can
be read by clicking
here is the section dealing with the Hog Industry)
Impacts of hog farming
8.41 Hog farming is an important agricultural activity in Canada. In
2004, Canadian farmers received $4.3 billion from the sale of hogs,
according to Statistics Canada. This represents about 12 percent
of total farm sales in Canada for that year. Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada reports that in 2004, Canada was the fifth largest producer
and the third largest exporter of pork in the world. Canada exports
over half the pork it produces, mainly to the United States and Japan,
according to Statistics Canada.
Increased growth in the hog industry
In 1995, the federal government eliminated the Crow Rate, a transportation
subsidy that helped farmers transport their grain to the nearest port.
This forced many farmers in the prairie provinces to look for new ways
to use their grain; many now use it as feed for hogs. This is one of
the factors that has led to the growth of the hog industry in recent
8.42 Based on hog
inventories prepared by Statistics Canada in 2005, the hog industry
by almost 50 percent since 1981. The
production of hogs is shifting from "farm to factory"—there
has been a reduction in farms producing hogs and an increase in hogs
on farms (Exhibit 8.6). In 1991, the average hog farm had 345 animals;
in 2001, the number had increased to around 900. Some hog farms in
Canada have reported as many as 10,000 hogs.
8.43 Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba lead Canada in hog production.
In 2001, over half of all hogs in Canada were produced in Quebec and
Ontario. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of hogs produced in Manitoba
increased by 97 percent (Exhibit 8.7).
8.44 According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a hog produces
an average of about one tonne of manure per year. Hog manure contains
nutrients that are valuable for crop production and that enhance soil
properties when properly applied. However, some hog farms do not have
enough land on which to spread the manure produced by their hogs or
are located away from areas where field crops are produced. If manure
is not properly stored or disposed of, it can contaminate the water,
soil, and air. Potential impacts include the following:
Contamination of water bodies by bacteria, such as E. coli, giardia,
and others, can make water unfit for human use.
Excess nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus in water bodies,
can result in algae growth, eutrophication, and fish kills.
High concentrations of nutrients and heavy metals building up in the
soils can be toxic to crops.
Odours can result from manure storage facilities and field application.
As the concentration of intensive hog operations increases, so does
the potential for negative impacts to human health and the environment.
8.45 Canadian scientists are still unsure of the effects that manure
from hog farms has on water quality and human health. In May 2002,
Quebec responded to the growth of the hog farming industry and citizens'
concerns by putting in place a moratorium on the expansion of existing
hog farms and on the development of new hog farm operations. Research
is currently under way at Lake Huron and Lake Winnipeg to find out
whether the eutrophication and bacterial contamination observed are
related to the proximity of intensive agricultural activities.
8.46 Governing hog farms is a shared responsibility. Both federal
and provincial governments have regulations and initiatives that deal
with agricultural activities and the environment. Federal efforts by
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Environment Canada focus on research
and development to reduce the environmental impacts from agriculture
in general, and on compliance with and enforcement of the pollution
prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. Provincial involvement
includes, but is not limited to, issuing permits, licensing, enforcing
laws and regulations on hog operations, specifying separation distances
to wells, and placing restrictions on manure spreading. Local governments
regulate building permits and zoning provisions.
8.47 Since 2002, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable
Development has received three environmental petitions from Canadians
concerned about the potential impacts of hog farming on the environment
and on their communities (petitions 37, 39, and 46). Based on statements
made in petition responses 37 and 46, we audited Environment Canada
and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's actions to reduce the impacts
of hog farming on the environment.
cannot yet demonstrate that its compliance promotion and enforcement
efforts at hog farms are effective
8.48 The Fisheries Act prohibits the direct or indirect deposit
of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish. It
is the primary
federal statutory instrument for enforcement activities related to
hog farming. Environment Canada administers and enforces the pollution
prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. For the last three years,
Environment Canada has identified the enforcement of these provisions
as a priority. In its 1999 Business Case, Environment Canada noted
that agriculture posed a risk to the environment and established
it as a priority for enforcement under the Fisheries Act. The
further stated that enforcement activities for this sector would
focus on large feed lots. (See photograph)
8.49 Given the growth of the industry, the potential for environmental
impacts, Environment Canada's enforcement priorities regarding the
Fisheries Act, and the Minister's responses to petitions 37 and 46,
we looked at Environment Canada's enforcement activities at hog farms.
Our audit determined that it is typically the provinces that receive
and deal with complaints about hog farming. Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan
have agreements with the federal government to co-operatively administer
the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. Provinces
can also use their own environmental legislation to enforce activities
at hog farms. For example, the Province of Ontario received 62 complaints
related to hog farming from April 2004 to February 2005, for such issues
as manure spills, nuisance odours, and improper spreading practices.
The Province convicted three hog farmers for discharging manure into
8.50 Environment Canada's enforcement activities at hog farms are
mostly reactive. The Department initiates investigations of Fisheries
Act violations only if it has received a complaint. According to Environment
Canada's enforcement database, out of the approximate 7,600 Fisheries
Act complaints the Department received from across the country between
2000 and 2004, about 37 complaints involved hog farming. Department
officials told us that all complaints were investigated, and Environment
Canada had prosecuted one hog farm for violating the Fisheries Act.
8.51 Compliance promotion is a priority for Environment Canada. Although
Environment Canada's role in enforcement for hog farms is limited,
the Department plays an important role in promoting compliance with
the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. In 2003,
Environment Canada created a new Compliance Assurance Branch. The goals
of the branch are to improve the planning of compliance promotion and
enforcement efforts and the effectiveness of analysis and reporting
of compliance activities. This branch is tasked with determining priorities
and fostering links between enforcement and compliance promotion. The
Department promotes compliance by preparing and distributing guidelines
and policies, consulting with industry associations and working groups,
and preparing and presenting educational and training materials.
8.52 In its 2002 response to petition 37, Environment Canada stated
that it will likely work on further compliance promotion and enforcement
in the Lake Huron watershed, due to the large concentration of intensive
livestock operations. It further committed to gathering data on watersheds
with the greatest agricultural impacts. In our view, this will help
the Department better direct some of its resources toward issues of
8.53 The Department met its commitment in the context of the Ontario
region. It has undertaken further compliance promotion and enforcement
activities in the Lake Huron area. However, we found that the Department
does not gather data on a national basis in order to direct resources
toward issues of highest priority.
8.54 Environment Canada's compliance promotion activities yield mixed
results. Environment Canada informed us that compliance promotion can
be more efficient than enforcement. However, the Department has seen
mixed results in its efforts to increase farmers' compliance with the
pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. In 2004, the
Ontario region of the Department conducted a study at a watershed and
found that its compliance promotion activities did not result in any
significant new action or improved practices by farmers.
8.55 Environment Canada is working to evaluate and improve the effectiveness
of its compliance promotion activities. The Department is developing
indicators that will help determine if its actions are having an impact.
For example, a pilot study on cattle access to water, conducted in
a watershed in the Ontario region, indicated that compliance promotion
and enforcement activities increased compliance by 20 percent in the
study area. In addition, the Department is in the preliminary stages
of developing a database to track and monitor its compliance promotion
activities, as it currently does for its enforcement activities. However,
the Department could not provide a timeline for when the database or
the indicators will be in place.
8.56 Environment Canada does not track what it spends to enforce the
pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act . In 1998, the
House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable
Development recommended that Environment Canada keep comprehensive
records on enforcement budgets and expenditures. The Department agreed
to do so and has listed enforcement of Fisheries Act provisions as
a priority for the last three years. We were therefore surprised to
learn that the Department does not code its enforcement activities
by Act or regulation and was not able to tell us how much it spends
to enforce the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act.
As of 2005, the Department had received $46 million in new funding
to improve its compliance and enforcement program for legislation for
which it is responsible, including the Fisheries Act. In our view,
monitoring results and tracking what it spends to enforce the pollution
prevention provisions would enable the Department to better direct
8.57 Environment Canada does not have a complete picture of who it
regulates. Environment Canada is in the third year of a 10-year plan
to collect information on those who should be regulated under the pollution
prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act, 1999. At this stage, the Department does not yet have
all the information required to ensure that its enforcement and compliance
promotion activities are being directed toward those who are at greatest
risk of breaking the environmental laws that it is mandated to enforce.
8.58 Recommendation. In order to ensure that its compliance promotion
and enforcement efforts related to hog farming are effective, Environment
identify the regulated community,
gather data on a national basis to direct or prioritize resources,
monitor the impacts of its efforts, and
keep comprehensive records on budgets and expenditures.
Environment Canada's response.
agrees with the recommendation. It should be noted, however,
that these recommended activities, although
directed to hog farming, are relevant to all environmental issues
where the Department has compliance promotion and enforcement
responsibilities. The Department uses priority-setting mechanisms
for both compliance
promotion and enforcement activities under the Fisheries Act and
Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. These mechanisms allow
for the consideration and prioritization of all issues, including
of all hog farms in Canada will be done in fiscal year 2006-07,
in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and provinces.
This will help
Environment Canada identify watersheds
with the greatest agricultural impacts across Canada, and compliance
promotion and enforcement efforts regarding hog farming issues will
be more easily directed to issues of highest priority. This priority-setting
exercise would need to consider the ongoing efforts by provinces and
others to reduce the environmental impacts of hog farming operations.
For example, many provinces have recently developed nutrient management
regulations, which are also supported by various voluntary measures
under the Agricultural Policy Framework.
To improve monitoring of the impacts of its efforts, Environment Canada
will continue to track its compliance promotion and enforcement activities.
The Department will also continue to pilot a database that could be
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's strategic approach to reducing
the environmental impacts of hog farming is not clear
8.59 In 1998, the hog industry asked Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
to re-examine its role and work with industry and the provinces to
develop a more comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to the environmental
issues faced by the hog industry. The Department and the hog industry
conducted a review of the environmental challenges and together recommended
that a strategic approach was needed to determine priorities in research,
technology development, and dissemination.
8.60 Also in 1998, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced it would
spend $2 million to develop a hog environmental management strategy.
The purpose of the strategy was to develop a national approach to finding
effective and affordable solutions to the environmental challenges
of the hog industry by 2001. During our audit, the Department informed
us that its efforts focussed on research, technology development, and
communications, but that a hog environmental management strategy had
not been developed.
8.61 In our 2001
Report (see Chapter 1—A Legacy Worth Protecting:
Charting a Sustainable Course in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River
Basin), we observed that a strategic approach to deal with the environmental
impacts of hog farming was more important than ever. Our audit concluded
that it was not clear if the initiatives of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada would produce the strategic, well-co-ordinated effort that was
needed to assist farmers.
8.62 In 2001, the Agricultural Policy Framework moved the Department
from a sector-based approach to an issue-based approach. The environmental
component of the framework focusses on reaching goals in the areas
of air, water, soil, and biodiversity. Programs dealing with the environmental
impacts of hog farming, including those developed under the framework,
are listed in Hog farming programs and initiatives. Department officials
told us that the responsibility for developing a strategic and comprehensive
vision for the hog sector, as requested by industry, is now deferred
to the Pork Value Chain Roundtable. The Roundtable's Strategy for Canada's
Pork Industry, dated May 2005, identifies environmental issues as a
major concern and notes that action here could improve the sustainability
of the pork sector. However, we found that only one of the 57 specific
actions identified by the Roundtable addresses environmental matters.
8.63 Based on previous audit observations and on commitments from
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada dating back to 1998, we expected that
the Department would have developed a hog environmental management
strategy. In our view, it is still not clear if the Department has
a comprehensive, strategic approach to help farmers reduce the environmental
impacts of hog farming and work toward a sustainable hog industry.
8.64 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada leads programs to reduce the
environmental impacts of hog farming. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
has made progress in gathering baseline data and has led many programs
and initiatives to address the environmental issues arising from hog
production in Canada. In 2002, the Department partnered with Statistics
Canada to conduct a Farm Environmental Management Survey. About 16,000
farms, including hog farms, were surveyed to collect baseline information.
A follow-up survey is planned for 2007. This information will be used
by the Department to measure the impacts of agriculture on the environment
through the National Agri-Environmental Health Analysis and Reporting
In response to the need for information and to assess the impacts
of agricultural policies on the environment, Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada is developing a set of science-based indicators. The indicator
for the risk of water contamination by nitrogen states that between
1981 and 2001, overall nitrate concentrations in water bodies in Canada
increased by 24 percent.
8.65 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has started to monitor the environmental
impacts of agriculture through NAHARP and the Farm Environmental Management
Survey Program. We expected that the Department would also monitor
the results of its programs in order to better direct its resources.
However, it does not always do so, and therefore the Department does
not know if its programs are achieving their expected results.
8.66 For example, in 2000, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced
$2.3 million for the Livestock Environment Initiative to assist industry
in addressing environmental concerns. The initiative wrapped up with
a symposium that shared research findings. However, the Department
did not follow up to verify whether the objectives of the program were
met, including development of pilot projects or the transfer of technology.
8.67 Further, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced it would
spend $300,000 to develop a standard to promote responsible environmental
management of hog operations in Canada. The standard was published
in March 2004 by the Canadian Standards Association. However, during
our audit the Department could not provide plans to monitor or assess
the implementation of this standard to determine if it has had an impact
at the farm level. Department officials advised us that a proposal
to test the implementation of the standard on a pilot basis was approved
in principle on 16 May 2005.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is not effectively communicating
or monitoring its beneficial management practices
8.68 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Environment Canada also develop
and fund mitigation technologies and beneficial management practices
for hog farming. Although we examined research activities conducted
at Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute, our audit
focussed mainly on the programs developed at Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada because they are designed to produce results at the farm level.
Exhibit 8.8 provides an example of a beneficial management practice
developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
8.69 Environment Canada conducts research related to hog farming primarily
through its National Water Research Institute. Research activities
to date have focussed on the impacts of manure on water quality and
are undertaken with a variety of stakeholders, including Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada. Environment Canada works to identify important
emerging issues, including investigating the cause of the beach closures
at Lake Huron. However, scientists indicated that there are still gaps
in knowledge about the impact of hog farming on the environment and
that beneficial management practices in this area need more work.
8.70 Progress is slow. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is working
to deliver beneficial management practices to hog farmers through its
Environmental Farm Plan Program and its National Farm Stewardship Program.
The Department informed us that it can take up to 10 years to develop
and implement such practices at the farm level. It provided a list
of 10 categories of beneficial management practices for hog farming
that have been developed with stakeholders. The implementation of the
National Farm Stewardship Program, which provides funding to farmers
for implementing beneficial management practices, hinges on the voluntary
completion of environmental farm plans by farmers. The Department projects
that about 66,530 environmental farm plans will be developed or updated
by 2008. Currently, about 25 percent of this total have been reviewed
and accepted under the Agricultural Policy Framework, and those that
were completed prior to the framework are under review for approval.
Information provided by the Department notes that delays in the development
of environmental farm plans can lead to delays in other programs, including
the National Farm Stewardship Program. (See photograph)
8.71 Beneficial management practices are not effectively communicated.
In 1999, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada funded a research project
to look into fostering a sustainable hog industry. The report recommended
that beneficial management practices be incorporated into a database
to promote their implementation by hog farmers. Accordingly, we expected
that the Department's beneficial management practices would by now
be made available on a database that farmers and others could readily
access. This database could also assist Environment Canada with its
compliance promotion efforts. However, we found that no central database
of this nature is available. Recent surveys of farm practices found
that many farmers are still not using beneficial management practices.
8.72 A recent Statistics Canada study indicates a wide variation among
regions in knowledge and implementation of beneficial management practices
to deal with hog manure. For example, in 2001, 95 percent of livestock
farmers in Quebec were familiar with beneficial management practices
for manure management, compared with 45 percent in Saskatchewan and
63 percent in Manitoba. Department officials told us that outside the
prairie provinces, programming related to federal beneficial management
practices is delivered by provincial governments and by third-party
industry groups. On the prairies, these federal programs are delivered
by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The Department identified the
need for a national approach to communication in this area and is currently
developing consistent information for all provinces and regions. However,
the Department currently cannot demonstrate that beneficial management
practices and mitigation technologies are communicated consistently
across the country or made readily available to farmers who need them.
A need to improve knowledge of beneficial management practices
In 2004, Statistics
Canada noted "a real need for education and
awareness of beneficial [management] practices" for manure management.
It found that almost 40 percent of livestock farmers indicated that
they were unfamiliar with beneficial management practices for manure
8.73 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada does not know if the beneficial
management practices it supports are cost-effective. The Department's
1999 research report concluded that it was necessary to be able to
demonstrate results and feasibility for new technologies for manure
management and treatment to ensure the widespread acceptance of these
technologies by hog producers. During our audit, the Department was
unable to provide information on what it would actually cost a farmer
to implement beneficial management practices. Without important cost
information, hog farmers are unlikely to implement innovative practices
that could reduce the impacts of hog farming on the environment.
8.74 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada does not monitor the uptake
of its beneficial management practices. The Department has made progress
in gathering baseline data on environmental issues related to hog farming
through its Farm Environmental Management Survey and NAHARP. However,
the Department does not currently monitor the implementation of these
practices by farmers and cannot report on a national basis on the effectiveness
of the practices it supports. Tracking which practices work well and
where they work well on a national basis would ensure that the Department
is allocating its resources effectively.
8.75 Recommendation. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada should clarify
its approach to addressing the environmental impacts of hog farming
and clearly communicate the approach to all stakeholders, in order
to encourage a sustainable hog industry. The Department should also
effectively communicate its beneficial management practices and monitor
and Agri-Food Canada's response.
Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada accepts the recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General.
The Department is developing a communications plan to address the Environment
Element of the Agricultural Policy Framework. This includes communications
to producers about environmental stewardship, farm planning, and beneficial
management practices that relate to hog and other kinds of farming
activities. To clarify the approach and communicate it to all its stakeholders,
the Department will improve the Framework's Environment Element on
its Web site. The site will provide national and provincial information,
as well as appropriate links to program delivery agents. The link to
ManureNet, a national Web site, will be made more prominent. This site
is dedicated to manure management issues in Canada and provides information
including research projects, acts, regulations, guidelines, fact sheets,
and new technologies. The timeline for completing this project is March
2006. The Department also commits to improving the communication of
its environmental strategy through the next Sustainable Development
To communicate beneficial management practices, the Department will
work to improve the availability of information for producers on relevant
programs under the Agricultural Policy Framework. Direct communications
with producers on beneficial management practices will also continue
on a regional basis through provincial Environmental Farm Planning
programs, and by provincial delivery agents of the National Farm Stewardship
Program (NFSP). The timeline for completing this project is March 2006.
To monitor the implementation of beneficial management practices, the
Department will continue to collect information on implementation of
these practices through delivery agents of the NFSP. Information will
be stored in a national database. This information will also be used
to support program refinements to foster increased implementation of
the practices by all producers by March 2008. Through agri-environmental
indicators, the Department will also continue to assess the broad impact
of adopting beneficial management practices on the environment. Agri-environmental
indicators are reported on a five-year basis, with the next report
due in 2005.
8.76 Petitions have resulted in departments taking action on environmental
issues. In order for the petitions process to be an effective tool,
the integrity of the process must be maintained by both petitioners
and departments. Petitioners can do this by clearly presenting their
issues and questions and making certain that their facts are correct.
Departments are responsible for responding in a timely manner and
ensuring that all issues raised in petitions are clearly addressed.
8.77 As part of our monitoring role, we audited selected commitments
made by Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada in response
to petitions. We found the following:
8.78 In our audit on the impacts of hog farming, we found that Environment
Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada do not know if their programs
and activities are reducing the impacts of hog farming on the environment.
Specifically, we found the following:
Environment Canada met its commitment in its petition response for
the Ontario region. However, the Department does not currently monitor
or track its compliance promotion activities and cannot yet demonstrate
that its efforts related to hog farming have resulted in an increase
in farmers' compliance with the pollution prevention provisions of
the Fisheries Act.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has yet to clarify its strategic
approach to addressing the environmental impacts of hog farming
communicate the approach to all stakeholders, in order to encourage
a sustainable hog industry. The Department has made progress in measuring
the impacts of agriculture on the environment in general and has
developed beneficial management practices and mitigation technologies
with the impacts of hog farming. However, it cannot demonstrate that
these practices are communicated consistently and made readily available