Minister Demands Industry Reconvene Crisis Talks

QUEBEC - Following the breakdown of 'survival' talks between Government and Quebec's pig industry, Agriculture Minister Laurent Lessard has called for another meeting with the province's pork processors and pig producers.
calendar icon 19 March 2008
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Scheduled for next week, the meeting aims to find out their next move and hopefully an agreement on the future of the sector. Lessard said he was strongly disappointed that talks led by his appointed negotiator, Guy Coulombe were not successful.

Coulombe was appointed in September to mediate talks between the two groups and file a report to Lessard by 3 March 2008. However, there had been negotiating difficulties, mainly because the two groups "do not speak the same language," said Lessard

He has now asked for both parties to put aside their differences to find possible solutions that would deal with the pig industry's "structural" problems.

"A crisis situation calls for "courageous" decisions," Lessard said.

Quebec's pork sector has been battered by the rising Canadian dollar, escalating feed costs and low returns for pigs. Disease issues have also hampered productivity and the province announced a $17.5 million aid package in December for farms where herds were hit by post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS).
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