Canadian Competitiveness in Swine Slips Due to Several Factors

CANADA - A senior research associate with the Guelph, Ontario based George Morris Centre warns a combination of factors have eroded Canadian competitiveness in the hog sector, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 31 January 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

<?=getCodeSnippet(45);?>The Canadian pork industry is currently facing several challenges, key among them difficulties in the packing industry and increasing feed costs.

"Competitiveness in Canadian hog production: A reassessment" will be one of the topics examined this week during the 2007 Manitoba Swine Seminar in Winnipeg.

George Morris Centre senior research associate Dr. Al Mussell explains, over the past ten years, barley and wheat yields have not kept pace with the growth of corn yields in the U.S. midwest which acts against the primary reason for establishment of the hog industry in western Canada, which was to consume relatively low cost grains, and, as it stands right now, we've had an historically aggressive demand for corn driven by ethanol.

Dr. Al Mussell-George Morris Centre

Some of the key factors that influence locating an industry in one area or another in livestock have to do with the availability of low cost feed and good quality feed, a labor supply available to work on the farm and the availability of processing capacity.

All of those things have been made available in western Canada however yield growth simply has not proceeded the same way in western Canada as it has in the midwest U.S. and as a consequence you get increased livestock feeding in the U.S., an export of youthful pigs and so forth into the U.S. for feeding there rather than feeding based on Canadian feedgrains.

Dr. Mussell notes, future prospects for feed prices depend on the price of oil, the price of natural gas and the development of substitute feed stocks and technology for those that consume corn to manufacture ethanol.

He observes, for now at least, it looks like ethanol is going to be a major competitor with livestock for feedgrains which makes the situation difficult for livestock producers and it's uncertain how long that's going to last.

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