Emergency Bridge Funding to Cope with H1N1 Urged

CANADA - Manitoba Pork Council is calling on the provincial government to provide bridge emergency assistance to help pork producers cope with the financial impact of the H1N1 Influenza A outbreak on their industry, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 12 May 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Yesterday, in an effort reassure consumers of the safety of pork and restore consumer confidence, representatives of Manitoba Pork Council and the provincial government served pork on a bun to about one thousand people on the grounds of the provincial legislature.

Pork Council Chair Karl Kynoch says many producers have spent their entire life savings just to stay in business and continue feeding their animals and the industry needs an immediate cash injection to provide relief until profitability is restored or we'll lose a lot of producers.

Karl Kynoch-Manitoba Pork Council

This has been a real devastation to the industry as we've just come through some very touch challenges over the past two years.

We've had low pork prices, we've had a high Canadian dollar for a stretch, we've had feed costs that have doubled and we've had to face Country of Origin Labelling.

Now that we've hit this H1N1, this has been a real blow to producers.

Just to give you a bit of an example, two weeks ago and again last week the industry here just in Manitoba, we lost and extra three to four million dollars just due to the fact that, because the H1N1 virus was misnamed, it actually dropped our prices on our hogs by 10 percent and actually more in some cases on weanlings going south, so about three to four million dollars per week is how it's affected our industry right now.

Mr Kynoch says, while the public has been extremely supportive and appears to recognize this is not a food safety issue, several countries continue to ban pork from certain US states and Canadian provinces.

He says both premier Gary Doer and Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk appear to recognize the gravity of the situation and producers will be watching over the next few days to see how they respond.

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