Cull Pork Finally Reaching Ontario Food Banks

CANADA - Two months after Ontario put up the money to pay for processing of hundreds of slaughtered pigs for the provinces' food banks, needy families look set to receive the fresh meat.
calendar icon 6 August 2008
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Butchering of the pigs, which otherwise would have been rendered into such products as pet food, bone meal and soap, finally began on July 26 writes Andrew Chung, The Toronto Star.

First shipments of ground pork – sausage to come later – left Ontario plants Friday in refrigerated trucks for food banks in Ottawa, London, Peterborough and elsewhere, said Adam Spence, executive director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

The balance of the estimated 140,000 lbs. of pork should reach the 120 food banks by month's end, Spence said. Shipments to Toronto food banks should start arriving next week, he said.

"It's difficult to get the money in the bank and then to get the logistics and the proper procedures in place," says Keith Robbins of the Ontario Pork marketing board. "Everything takes a bit longer than you'd assume."

The program exists because of an unprecedented federal effort to deal with a hog industry crisis. The "cull breeding swine program" is a $50 million initiative of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to reduce the size of Canada's pig herd. Fewer pigs means higher prices.

Farmers have been losing money on each pig sent to market because of record feed prices, a high dollar discouraging export, and problematic U.S. food labelling initiatives.

Ottawa's solution has been to pay farmers to kill their pigs – $225 per euthanized sow. The goal is to reduce the national sow herd by 10 per cent, meaning about 3 million fewer hogs per year.

Soon after the cull began in April, Alberta and Saskatchewan announced they would contribute funding of $300,000 and $440,000, respectively, to ensure the meat would go to food banks.

Ontario belatedly came to the table on May 30, after thousands of animals had been slaughtered, putting up $110,000 to process between 500 and 600 sows, translating into about 67,000 meals.
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