Crisis Rally Sends Message to Govt and Public

ALBERTA, CANADA - Pork producers and industry supporters from across Alberta who gathered in Calgary on Friday, 10 July, for an industry crisis rally, say they believe their message is being heard and that they will keep up the pressure for immediate assistance from government for producers.
calendar icon 13 July 2009
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"We are here is the midst of the Calgary Stampede, which has built a worldwide reputation as the greatest outdoor show on earth based on its agricultural heritage," says pork producer spokesperson John Middel. "Ironically, we may be seeing the end of a core part of those agricultural roots, our pork industry."

Mr Middel, one of several producer and industry speakers on the day, says governments need to hear that producers need help now. "We cannot wait three months. Producers have been hit with a combination of devastating factors, all beyond their control. They include a high Canadian dollar and high feed grain prices, the H1N1 flu outbreak which affected trade and now a drought forcing feed grain prices up further."

The impact of losing pork producers will be broad, says Middel. It is an industry crisis with major economic and consumer food supply implications.

Pork production is a true value-added industry, supporting critically important jobs and economic benefits across the country. "The grain we buy from grain producers is processed here rather than being shipped out of the country. We have processors such as Olymel, the largest employer in Red Deer. If there are no pigs there is no packing plant. The companies that provide us with services, construction companies that build and renovate facilities, and our banking industry will all suffer.

The hundreds of people we employ on farms, who live and spend their money in these rural communities, will be lost.

"Some people may say if producers can't make it on their own they shouldn't be in business. But these producers have invested their lives in their operations to produce quality pork and the despair they are feeling is real. I don't think that as a nation and as a province, we want to turn our backs on these Canadian food providers."

Consumers' food supply will also be affected, says Middel. "Consumers have told us in this crisis that they value Alberta's pork production, that they want to continue to buy local food. We have built some of the highest production and safety standards in the world. All of that will be lost if producers are forced out of production and pork is imported from other countries."

Representatives of both provincial and federal governments on hand expressed their support for the pork industry, acknowledged recent proposals made by the pork industry and indicated that their people are working to find solutions for the industry across the country.

Approximately 2,400 pork on a bun meals were served. Another 600 portions were provided to the Mustard Seed Ministry in Calgary.

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