Pork Financial Crisis Report Taken to Ag Minister

1 October 2012, at 7:45am

CANADA - Members of a government-industry task force have presented their interim report on the financial crisis facing Canada's pork industry and possible strategies to the federal minister of agriculture, writes Bruce Cochrane.

In early August federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz formed a task force made up of representatives of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Pork Council to review the impact of increasing feed grain prices on the profitability of hog producers and to identify possible strategies.

On Friday members met with the minister to discuss the task force's interim report. Canadian Pork Council vice-chair Rick Bergmann estimates right now producers are 30 dollars or more on the wrong side of the break even fence because of the impact of the US drought.

Rick Bergmann-Canadian Pork Council:

Certainly the team has found that there is significant distress amongst producers across the country. Again the drought in the US has put us really behind the eight-ball where we see our increased costs so dramatically going up. The challenge certainly is, when your expenses are much greater than the income that the animal brings you when you bring it to market, that's a big concern certainly for producers.

But, as we discussed at this task force group, the many implications that it has for the chain that's linked to all of production. There's numerous jobs and significant economic gain that our industry brings to Canada so we want to do our best to protect that.

Mr Bergmann says there are indicators in the market that suggest there are some good thinks coming down the road for producers but the challenge is we need to get there.

He says applauds the federal government's quick response and notes there are existing programs that minister Ritz is looking at and he appears open to considering a lot of the suggestions that have been made, which is also encouraging.