Prairie Swine Centre Rebounds from Financial Crisis

CANADA - A combination of strategies designed to cut costs and improve efficiency have helped the Prairie Swine Centre survive the prolonged down-turn in the pork industry, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 8 October 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Depending on location pork producers in the US and Canada faced two to three years of losses ranging anywhere from 20 to 50 dollars per pig.

Lee Whittington, the president and CEO of the Saskatoon based Prairie Swine Centre, says because research facilities depend to a certain extent on the sale of pigs, making up for those losses posed a huge challenge.

Lee Whittington-Prairie Swine Centre

Any research facility in the last three years will have gone through some significant cuts to their budget and certainly the Prairie Swine Centre was no exception and ourselves as well as almost all of the other research centres in Canada have come out the other side.

The fact is that every business whether it's a pig farm or a Prairie Swine Centre any other research organization has things that they can do to reduce their budget immediately.

Usually that involves changes in personnel.

In our case we bred fewer pigs, we finished fewer pigs on contract and generally reduced all of those areas of risk.

We went into the crisis with a very diversified funding model and that is we have a number of sources of revenue that come in for doing research.

The challenge is how to make up for losses in the pig industry.

We certainly found ways of lowering our cost of production, making better use of some of the information we were already sharing with the industry, only producing exactly what we need and some better use of risk management tools, forward pricing feed, forward contracting pigs, buying US dollars, making use of some of those tools that were out there that we had not been up to that point.

But obviously going forward risk management is going to be a very important part of what we do.

Mr Whittington says given the dramatic improvements in returns since April the mood moving forward is cautiously optimistic.

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