Canadian Pork Producers to Visit Three U.S. States to Promote Improved Relationships

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2024. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 16 January 2006
clock icon 6 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2024

Trade advocacy will be the focus over the next four weeks as a delegation representing three provincial pork organizations heads south in a bid to strengthen Canada-U.S. trade relationships within the swine industry.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario to be Represented

The delegation, which will include representatives of Manitoba Pork Council, Sask Pork and Ontario Pork, will head out next week on a tour that will visit Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska for the annual pork industry association meetings and trade shows in those states.

“We’ve rented booth space at each of these events and we have a double display there,“ states Andrew Dickson, General Manager of Manitoba Pork Council. “There’s a group of about six or seven people from Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan to promote the Canadian pig industry to our American counterparts. To try and have a human presence at these things and explain how the Canadian pork industry works and the importance of having free and open borders in pork trade between the midwest states and the prairie provinces in particular.“

Delegates will be in Minneapolis January 17, 18 and 19, Des Moines January 24, 25 and 26 and Columbus, Nebraska February 6.

Trip Targets Grassroots Producers

“The main purpose of the trip is to keep in touch with the grassroots producers,“ says Ross Johnson, a Director with Sask Pork. “It’s a communication effort to know what’s happening on the ground level in the U.S. and also for them to understand what’s happening on the ground level here in Canada and to relay the concept that we’re in a North American market. We need that market to function that way. The better we understand each other, the easier it will be to make that whole market function.“

“Some of our customers will be at those trade shows, so it’s another opportunity to meet with them,“ adds Ontario Pork Sales Team Manager Patrick O’Neil. “We’ve had good relationships with state associations that have been developing. State associations have come up to Ontario and this is an opportunity for us to go down and see them again.“

Minneapolis and Des Moines Trade Shows Expected to Attract Thousands

Dickson points out the Minneapolis and Des Moines shows are big. “In Minneapolis they get something like two and a half thousand to three thousand people coming and in Des Moines they’re expecting three to five thousand people coming to their meeting.“

“We’re trying to talk to individual producers on a one-on-one basis,“ he explains. “We really feel if we have this one-on-one contact we can address some of the issues that some of these producers in the United States have about Canadian production. There are key things we want to talk about. Manitoba, in particular, is a safe supplier of product. Our pigs are healthy; they are raised in relatively disease free facilities. We’re a consistent supplier. We meet all the international standards.“

“We view North America as one market,“ O’Neil continues. “Pork flows freely north and south across the border and, we certainly market pigs into the United States. There’s feeder pigs that cross as well as market hogs. We think that’s good for the American industry and it’s good for our industry so we need to continue to cultivate those relationships.“

Johnson suggests, “We should be focusing on the common things. We obviously have a lot of common production practices so we can work on common research into those production practices. We’ve got a lot of common issues when we go out into the world trade and, if we work together we can form stronger alliances and end up exporting more product and in product development and that type of thing, how we get product out to the world.“

He believes, the closer our production practices and our accepted programs are in harmony with each other, the better. “We all do different parts of the game probably a little differently but we all have our strengths and we shouldn’t beat each other up because we have strengths. We should work together and just make those strengths work together for a stronger industry,“ he says.

U.S. Response Positive

“We’ve had a very positive response from the organizers of these events in the United States,“ Dickson observes. “When we met earlier with their councils in the spring, they encouraged us to come down to these events and to participate actively. When we’re down there we’re also going to be visiting with state government officials, some university research people and local media so that we can try and get a message across to various interest groups. [We want] to assure them that we’re trying to be a good partner with them and we’re not trying to put anyone out of business.“

In fact, Dickson insists, “We are an important part of their production system in the sense that we supply weanlings to American feeder operations. We want to emphasize part of their growth in their industry has been as a result of this partnership with Canadian pig suppliers. We’re an important factor in some of the expansion that has happened in Iowa and Minnesota in the past couple of years.“

O'Neil agrees, “The United States is a big exporter of pork. A lot of the pork that’s exported will be from pigs that were born in Canada.“

Dickson admits, “This is the first time that we’ve really tried to do this on such a scale. It’s a bit of an experiment and we’re very keen to try and make it work properly. It’s a huge time commitment but hopefully we can build up good relationships and reduce some of these fears that we know some of our American counterparts have on these things.“

He stresses, “These trade actions start from resolutions at annual meetings so, if we can get down there and talk to people so that they feel comfortable about how they do business with Canada, maybe we can try and head off some of these problems in the future.“

Communication Critical

Johnson also considers communication to be the most important aspect of the visit. “It seems like any trade actions are usually brought about because of vocal minorities or misunderstandings and, if we can keep those lines of communications open we’ll end up avoiding some of those trade actions and working together rather than working against each other.“

He reasons, “We can spend a whole lot of dollars fighting each other or we could spend those same dollars in promotion of our products throughout the world and just enhancing our business so it's obvious what the best option is.“

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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