Lost Access to Pigs Threatens US Industries

CANADA - US pork producers who rely on Canadian origin pigs fear their industry and their livelihoods will be devastated if they lose access to those pigs, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 13 March 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Calls for additional measures that go beyond those required by the final rule for Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling, scheduled to take effect 16 March, have heightened fears that US processing plants will no longer kill Canadian origin pigs.

Jim Lynott, with Premier Swine at Hawarden, Iowa, runs about 20 thousand finishing spaces under contract with Saskatchewan based Big Sky Farms.

He says, in excess of two thousand finishing buildings in southwest Minnesota and western Iowa currently handle Canadian pigs and will be left empty if they lose access to those pigs.

Jim Lynott-Premier Swine

Domestic production of weanling pigs and feeder pigs is far below what would be necessary to fill all of the barns that are currently being utilized by Canadian pigs.

As we go forward here I'm sure there will be a kill-out period of six months where these pigs will be marketed away at what ever value can be gotten out of them.

Past that point, we'll have a lot of buildings standing empty which probably the most concerning thing to a lot of people in the particular area that we are in because of the fact that Canadian pigs are such an important part of the hog business in northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota.

With barns standing empty, a lot of folks out here that are highly leveraged against these barns, there will be a number of them that will turn the barns back over their lenders, forced sales that will greatly devalue these barns.

It could be as devastating here to the swine industry as what the housing debacle in this country has been to the home lenders.

Lynott is confident there are enough US packing plants willing to accept Canadian origin pigs under the law as it currently stands to allow business to continue.

He says the additional voluntary measures are what need to be shelved.

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