Canadian Hog Farms Face Tough Times

by 5m Editor
28 July 2008, at 7:32am

CANADA - "For the last two years, it has been hard getting up in the morning knowing no matter what you do you're going to lose money," says Dennis Rivest, a 38 year old pig farmer. "Why would you want to go to work?"

The Rivest family is riding an emotional roller-coaster as it closes its once large-scale pig farming operation, reflecting a troubling trend with the pork industry, reports

The Rivests, not unlike other farmers handling swine, can't make a buck with increased costs and lower hog prices.

Robert Rivest Farms was founded by Dennis's father, Bob. The family patriarch had continued a family tradition of working the land, which started shortly after Essex County was developed as farm country. Robert Rivest Farms stands, in some ways, as a beacon of local farming success.

About 2,500 acres, spread on lots across the county, make up Robert Rivest Farms.

Dennis Rivest's great-grandfather raised pigs, and grew crops, like many of his contemporaries.

Though they did not have pigs for a while, rising demand encouraged the family to go whole hog into pork production in 1979.

Over time, the Rivests built their empire, growing in land and numbers. At its peak several years ago, Robert Rivest Farms boasted 1,250 sows, or breeding swine, and sold more than 28,000 pigs at market a year.

Times were good. In fact, a large brick home, a stylish affair which would not look out of place on some of the tonier stretches of Riverside Drive, stands testament to the family's better days.

Though the Rivests currently grow corn, soybeans and wheat, they endured emotional overload the last few weeks bidding adieu to their last pigs in an attempt to protect their life savings.

"Thirteen years ago we had the best year ever," Rivest said. "That's when I got married and everything was great. I don't think we've made money since.

"This year, with what has happened, I said, 'I'm not going to go this route anymore.' We just can't take it. Before we lose everything, we have to change."

5m Editor