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Existing Programmes Used to Assist Pork Sector

29 October 2012, at 1:47pm

CANADA - Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food says that, to avoid possible countervail action by the United States, governments will rely on existing programmes to help Canada's pork producers make it through to spring when profitability is expected to improve, writes Bruce Cochrane.

In response to severe economic challenges faced by the pork sector as a result of high feed costs and low hog prices, a government industry task team was formed to assess the situation and recommend action.

Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz says the analysis has shown the pork cycle looks good into late winter and early spring so producers are looking at a five to six month period that they'll need to get through to take advantage of the expected turn around.

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:

To that end we have worked within existing programming. We're very cognizant of the fact that anything done outside of that would be countervailed by the Americans, especially going through the hurt that they are and we certainly don't want to trigger that.

That's one of our most valuable markets when it comes to pork production in this great country. So we have looked at every program that's available in the provincial federal jurisdiction. We've got a couple that are federal alone.

When you talk cash advances, we've made them more available. We've continued to backstop the lending institutions and we're not getting any amount of push from the lending institutions. Not any great amount of farmers are coming in to say we need to work this out, we need to do things differently. Yes, there is the odd one but not a flood of people asking for relief on their loans.

In spite of that, we have identified some 31 million dollars that pork farmers have in their AgriInvest accounts coast to coast to coast.

We also looked at how we help them cash manage over the next little while to keep them whole until that bright spark shows up. We've adjusted and expedited every program we have at the federal provincial jurisdiction to make sure that farmers have the cash flow that they'll require to stay whole until the end of the tunnel lightness starts to show up in late winter, early spring.

Mr Ritz observes we're seeing hog prices starting to rise and feed prices starting to fall, so we are headed in the right direction.

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