A cooperative approach is needed to address the nutrient problems in Lake Winnipeg, according to the province's business community.

"What we're interested is fairness to see that agriculture receives a fair break in the drive toward environmental sustainability," says Graham Starmer, president of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce. "We believe the hog industry has been misrepresented by the government and some of the regulations they've brought out."

The Chamber, along with the Manitoba Employers Council, the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, and many individual companies, have published a letter expressing concern with how the province has singled out the hog sector in trying to clean up the lake. The letter follows a document issued several weeks ago by nearly all of the province's producer and commodity groups.

Starmer notes the province used research from the University of Saskatchewan to support Bill 46, the ban on hog industry expansion passed earlier this summer.

"What the government has done is skewed that report and used it as a basis of fact. We've talked to the report writers and some of it is speculative. To bring in regulations on speculation is the most innappropriate way of proceeding," he says.

He notes the Chamber and other groups are working with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, based in Winnipeg, to develop commercial models that involve all contributors.

"We need to coordinate our efforts to clean up Lake Winnipeg. They're taking the position that 'there's no fault here, what can we do to clean up Lake Winnipeg? And then let's move forward.' They're looking at commercial models so we can bring a business case to cleaning up Lake Winnipeg," explains Starmer.