Pig industry flies out of Quebec

CANADA - Deboning a pig carcass will never rank up there as anyone's dream career. But for the residents of tiny St-Simon, Que. (population 1,093), the 650 jobs provided by the local pork processing plant have long been a preferred alternative to their town's economic starvation.

For decades, they've put up with the smell -- and the gibes from visitors who got a whiff of it -- in exchange for the steady, well-paid, union jobs at the Olymel plant. It seemed like a reasonable deal.

As a division of Quebec's huge agricultural co-operative, La Co-op fédérée, Olymel was supposed to practice a kinder, gentler capitalism. Or so the St-Simonais, as the town's residents are known, thought until this month, when Olymel laid off 120 workers at the plant. By September, the rest will be gone, too.

Where to? Canada's multibillion-dollar pork farming and processing industry, long centred in Quebec, is shifting westward as economic, political and environmental forces favour Manitoba and Alberta. And, co-op or not, Olymel is moving with it. After all, it's still got to bring home the bacon for its members.

Source: Globe and Mail
calendar icon 16 February 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
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