Manitoba farmers wanting to burn stubble, straw and other crop residue are banned from doing so beginning today unless authorized under the province’s strict crop residue burning program.
This year the program will have enhanced surveillance and enforcement to ensure compliance, Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk announced today.
“We have made significant improvements to our program this year,” said Wowchuk. “While we know the vast majority of producers who burn crop residue during the fall period abide by the regulations and burn only when authorized, this year we are further bolstering surveillance and enforcement to deter any illegal burning.”
The province will invest $50,000 to enhance aerial surveillance to facilitate action against producers who burn crop residue without authorization, the minister said. Last year, 17 fines were levied as a result of strengthened surveillance and enforcement tested on a trial basis.
Between Aug. 1 and Nov. 15, stubble and other residue burning is banned in Manitoba. Producers wanting to burn crop residue during this period must do so in accordance with burn authorizations. Authorizations, based on smoke dispersion conditions, specify where in the province and during which hours daytime burning of crop residue will be allowed.
No stubble burning will be authorized until after the August long weekend.
Beginning this year, an enhanced control zone around the city of Winnipeg will require producers in municipalities surrounding the city to obtain a permit on a daily basis. A new pilot project aimed at improving the precision of smoke-dispersion forecasting will also be utilized this year, the minister said.
The minister also noted the province has been working with producers to encourage more environmentally and agronomically beneficial alternatives to burning when managing crop residue.
Information on where and when burning will be authorized is available by calling the toll-free information line at 1-800-265-1233 or online at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/news/burn/index.html. Service is available in French and English.
If burning is authorized for a particular area, farmers must:
· burn only within the hours specified for their area as identified on the toll-free telephone information line or online or by the conditions on the permit issued,
· ensure fires are supervised at all times,
· ensure areas being burned have been properly fire-guarded to prevent fires from spreading, and
·ensure smoke will not create a hazard to highway safety or to human safety.
Manitobans are reminded that night burning of crop residue, rights-of-way, ditches, native pastures and waste areas is banned year-round.
Enforcement of stubble burning regulations is carried out by Manitoba Conservation and the RCMP. The fine for illegal burning under the Summary Convictions Act is $2,107. Under the Environment Act, the fine can be as high as $50,000. Complaints of illegal burning or hazardous conditions caused by stubble burning smoke should be directed to district offices of Manitoba Conservation or the RCMP.