Sow Herd Reduction Expected in Saskatchewan

by 5m Editor
29 February 2008, at 9:41am

CANADA - The Saskatchewan Pork Development Board expects about eight thousand breeding sows to come out of production in Saskatchewan in the near future as the result of severe losses caused by a combination of negative economic factors, writes Bruce Cochrane.

The rapid appreciation of the Canadian dollar, soaring feed grain prices due in part to increased biofuel production and increased transportation costs following the closure of Saskatchewan's last federally inspected hog slaughtering plant have resulted in substantial losses within the province's hog industry.

In response, the Saskatchewan government introduced a Short Term Hog Loan Program in December to provide cash flow to help producers cover feed bills and other expenses until markets for live hogs return to profitable levels.

Sask Pork Policy analyst Mark Ferguson says the situation has resulted in negative margins for every hog producer in the province.

Mark Ferguson-Saskatchewan Pork Development Board

Whether producers take advantage is a personal decision on their part.

Producers right now are making a lot of tough decisions and they have to decide whether they're even going to be in business in the next six months.

Obviously, if you don't think you're going to be producing hogs anymore you're probably not going to take the loan.

At Sask Pork we have fairly close contact with producers and we're aware of about eight thousand sows that we believe are coming out of production.

The Stats Canada numbers so far haven't shown that large of a decrease.

We think they probably will in future reports as the barns are depopulated.

So there's definitely producers exiting.

So far about 30 loans have been approved and approximately 13 million dollars have been dispersed.

Ferguson stresses, this is a loan that producers will be responsible for paying back so many may choose not to take part but for others the program will play an important role in allowing them to remain in business.

He says the important thing is that the loan is available and that people can use it if they so choose.

5m Editor