Farm Transition Programme Considered Trade-Neutral

CANADA - The Saskatchewan Pork Development Board says a federal programme to assist Canadian pork producers in restructuring their industry is being designed in a way that ensures it will not compromise Canada's international trading obligations, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 28 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Officials with the Canadian Pork Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are in the process of finalizing details of a Hog Farm Transition Program that will provide access to interest bearing government backed credit, incentives to help struggling operations transition out of the industry and funding for international pork marketing initiatives.

Saskatchewan Pork Development Board general manager, Neil Ketilson, says trade implications were a key consideration as the framework of the program was designed.

Neil Ketilson-Saskatchewan Pork Development Board

When we originally approached the federal government we took the approach that farmers needed a direct cash injection.

A lot of the farmers out there will not be as pleased with a loan as they would be with direct cash but one of the things that the federal government was quite insistent on is that we don't create an indirect negative impact on the industry through some sort of trade action that the United States might bring about through countervails and really they come on as a result of subsidies to our industry.

The United States is quite adamant that there's a level playing field between the two countries and therefore any subsidies or payments to producers out here in a direct way are deemed to be negative to their industry.

Trade is very important to this industry and has been over the past 20 to 30 years.

Mr Ketilson observes historically pork production in Saskatchewan has been profitable but a combination of factors over the past two to three years, including the high value of the Canadian dollar, high feed costs and increased transportation costs have made things challenging.

However he stresses the province's producers are adjusting and he's convinced, over time, profitability will be restored.

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