Canada: Hog Markets

CANADA - In my last commentary I wrote about Canadian pork producers great ability to cooperate and collaborate in the face of the devastation of PRRS to work towards a solution, writes Bob Fraser, Sales & Service, Genesus Ontario. Here, he highlights another admirable trait in our industry to stand up for what is right and control its own destiny when the "herd" is running hard against it.
calendar icon 6 June 2013
clock icon 5 minute read

Canada – Not Running with the Herd

I quote here excerpts from Frank van Ommeren in an open letter to all Canadian Pork Producers recently published in the Ontario Farmer (the primary weekly farm paper in the province).

“North American animal activists groups have been very successful in lobbying and/or pressuring many retailers into concessions to purchase pork products from pork production units that practice a loose housing system for their sow facilities.

In reaction to the pressure felt by our producers, the following resolution was tabled at the 2013 Annual Ontario Pork meeting.


Our pork producers in Oxford County, Ontario, Canada have come under mounting pressure by extremist animal activists, who attack our producers on their integrity, as well as ability and willingness to care for our animals in the most responsible and animal friendly manner.

Our production facilities are being regarded as inhumane and our employees, owners, operators being displayed as greedy, self-centred and careless criminals.

Be it known therefore

  1. That the ultimate goal of these extremist groups is the total abolishment of all animal husbandry.
  2. That the information that these groups present is unscientific, misleading and designed to at all cost to enforce their viewpoints onto the public.
  3. That their foremost concern is NOT animal welfare but rather their own monetary concerns are the main motivation behind their actions; this is proven by recent reports that only 0.5 per cent of revenue is used to finance animal shelters etc. And also by the six digit payouts to some of their directors.
  4. That they use animal farming as a catalyst to fund their monetary greed through the use of false and misleading information that attempts to stir up the emotions of the public and thereby encourage the public to support them as the self-proclaimed animal liberators.
  5. That their interpretations of animal behavior (in our current production systems, including but NOT limited by sow gestation stalls) is totally incorrect and based on emotion rather than in depth knowledge of animal behavior.
  6. As our farmers collectively have thousands of years of animal husbandry experience and therefore know that the current production system is a product of the first hand knowledge of the best way to care for these animals that ensures their comfort and welfare.
  7. That by placing sows in a loose system we expose our animals to more chance of injury due to:
    Malnutrition of timid sows
    Over-nutrition in dominant sows
    Extreme injury to mammary glands
    Vulva biting, especially for sows nearing farrowing
    Stress-induced death, especially due to fighting on hot summer days, and when forming new animal cohorts.
    More abortions and lost pregnancies
  8. Therefore loose housing does NOT ensure a higher standard of animal welfare.
  9. That many veterinarian clinics will confirm that our current production practices are NOT causing undue stress to our animals.
  10. That if the emotional and physical wellbeing of our animals is measured in terms of sow performance, one can safely conclude that gestation stalls do NOT have a negative influence on our animals.

Be it resolved therefore,

We do not endorse a blanket enforcement of loose housing.

This resolution was passed with 85 per cent of the delegate/producers voting in favour of this motion with 15 per cent against.

Currently the Canadian Pork Industry is drawing up a new Code of Practice to be released in June of 2013. The Code of Practice has been in place for many years as a valuable tool in protecting our animals as well as our farmers and customers. At this point in time many details are not yet known, but one thing we do know is that the new code will make it MANDATORY TO CONVERT TO LOOSE SOW HOUSING.”

Frank goes on from here to call on all pork producers to respond to the 60 day comment period from the time of the release of the Code in relation to afore mentioned resolution. This is to be highly commended and supported as pork producers taking a hold of their destiny.

Too many supposed competent, clever and certainly highly paid executives further up the pork chain have found it far easier to “take this monkey off their back” and attempt to “kick this can further down the road” to 2017, 2022 whatever than deal with it. Unfortunately some of the producer leadership has decided appeasement is also the easier route.

Fortunately pork producers “down where the wheel hits the ground” understand when it is necessary to stand up for what is right and has a direct serious impact on their livelihood.

Good for them! I would urge you to join them and support them

If we take a look at the OMAFRA Weekly Hog Market Facts compiled by John Bancroft, Market Strategies Program Lead, Stratford OMAFRA [email protected] we see market hog price strengthening 9 to over 18 dollars more for the last 5 weeks than same time a year ago. Couple this with feed prices drifting sideways to down and we have a “rising tide lifting all boats”. An industry even more worth fighting for!

Genesus Global Market Report
Prices for the week of May 27, 2013
CountryDomestic price
(own currency)
US dollars
(Liveweight a lb)
USA (Iowa-Minnesota) 94.46 USD/lb carcass 69.90¢
Canada (Ontario) 1.76 CAD/kg carcass 61.69¢
Mexico (DF) 21.13 MXN/kg liveweight 74.59¢
Brazil (South Region) 2.59 BRL/kg liveweight 55.08¢
Russia 74 RUB/kg liveweight $1.04
China 13.37 RMB/kg liveweight 99.95¢
Spain 1.33 EUR/kg liveweight 79.02¢
Viet Nam 38,500 VND/kg liveweight 83.17¢
South Korea 4,193 KRW/kg liveweight $1.70

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