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Funding cuts will have financial implications for swine breeders

by 5m Editor
26 August 2004, at 12:00am

ONTARIO – A surprise announcement last week by the provincial government to cut all funding to Ontario Swine Improvement Inc. (OSI) will ultimately result in increased cost for producers relying on the testing services.

Funding cuts will have financial implications for swine breeders - ONTARIO – A surprise announcement last week by the provincial government to cut all funding to Ontario Swine Improvement Inc. (OSI) will ultimately result in increased cost for producers relying on the testing services.

Ontario Swine Improvement “Ontario Swine Improvement has been preparing for self sufficiency for some time now but unfortunately these cuts have come before we were fully ready,“ comments OSI Chairman John Gough.

“There is no question that the loss of $640,000 from our budget at this time will have a direct financial impact on the breeders and commercial producers that use our genetic improvement testing services. Ultimately it will effect Ontario’s competitiveness in the global pork and swine export market.“

OSI is the only organization in Ontario charged with evaluating pigs under the Canadian Swine Improvement Program (CSIP). Approximately one third of the 90,000 CSIP pigs tested annually in Canada are tested in Ontario by OSI. These pigs are part of the Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement (CCSI) database of over three million pigs – one of the largest in the world.

The announcement comes after a government study conducted by KPMG concluded in June that Ontario organizations supplying Livestock Improvement Programs, including OSI, were meeting or exceeding the terms of their contracts with the provincial government. The report also recommended that the organizations seek self sufficiency, after “full and appropriate consideration of the associated risks and consideration of appropriate timeframes….“

“Since Ontario plays such an important role in the Canadian swine industry, the impact of this announcement will be felt nationally,“ Gough says. “It is very disappointing that the provincial government chose to disregard an important part of the KMPG recommendation by acting so quickly to cut funding.“

“We will regroup and restructure and move on,“ comments OSI General Manager Richard Smelski. “OSI’s core values won’t change. We know that we are the best at what we do and breeders can rest assured that we will maintain our high standards. We will continue to supply them with the needed services as economically as possible.“

The financial impact to breeders will be lessened thanks to the expansion and diversification of other OSI programs and services over the last few years. Ontario Swine Genetics A.I. Unit will not be affected by the cuts. The unit has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years and any future surpluses will help to offset the financial impact of the cuts to producers. OSI is also the excusive Ontario distributor for Herdsman software, manages the DNA testing for the PSS gene, leads research in meat quality and has just launched a benchmarking program.

“Ultimately the foresight of OSI in diversifying and beginning to move towards self sufficiency will make the transition less painful,“ comments Smelski. “OSI will emerge a more effective, efficient operation dedicated to swine genetic improvement in Ontario.“

The organization’s success is well documented: The economic impact of OSI’s Ontario Swine Improvement Program is over $25 million per year – almost $5 for every pig marketed. In the last year alone, genetic improvement brought commercial producers $38 more per sow. This is due mainly to rapid genetic progress in litter size.

OSI is one of three Ontario organizations affected by the funding cuts. The other organizations are Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corporation and Beef Improvement Organization.

Ontario Swine Improvement is a not-for-profit, industry-run organization dedicated to providing swine improvement and genetic products, programs, information and expertise. OSI is managed by a Board of Directors representing key industry stakeholders: Canadian Meat Council, Ontario Pork, OMAF and OSI participants. For more information on OSI products, programs and services, visit www.osi-inc.on.ca.

Source: Ontario Swine Improvement - 24th August 2004

5m Editor