Canada Hog Markets: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Fall

CANADA - As we work through the “dog days“ of summer it is often a time of anticipation for farmers. Is the crop going to be good, fair to middling or a disaster? This is considered in the context of the individual, his local area and then across North America as to how it may bear on grain prices and in turn feed prices, writes Bob Fraser – Sales & Service, Genesus Ontario.
calendar icon 17 August 2015
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As for Ontario we’ve been well blessed with rain to the point in many instances too much. Tiled land always pays but this year particularly on poorly drained land crops are showing the effects of too wet of feet.

However “rain makes grain” and on balance the crops look quite good especially now that the heat has finally got turned on. This would appear to be the case throughout the North American corn growing regions that after new crop corn going over $5.00 locally and making many think perhaps they should have booked some corn earlier, now backing off. As to where from here all part of the anticipation.

Then there is always the constant anticipation to the direction of hog prices. Up, down or sideways?

Although perhaps heightened this time of year as so often by now the annual peak has come and gone. However what will be the case this year? After a first quarter that saw far too abrupt of an end to the marvelous year of 2014, the second quarter has been markedly better but is this going to be short lived. Or will the promise of China indeed buoy exports and as “a rising tide lift all boats”.

Pork producers by the nature of their business are constantly peering into the future for signs as to how to manage their business.

They also can be forgiven for having a fair share of paranoia in “waiting for the other shoe to fall” and suspicious that it’s likely not to be good. Far too many times in the last ten years (2014 excepted) the light at the end of the tunnel has proven to be a freight train.

Circovirus, Swine Flu, COOL, PEDv, the list is long and seemingly inclined of some plague or pestilence more often than not. As Jim Long has often observed you have to be tough to be a pork producer, certainly not for the faint of heart.

Now Canadian pork producers are on the cusp of perhaps their biggest opportunity or challenge in recent memory. TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership; a massive potential agreement involving some 12 nations (including the US & Canada) and some 40 per cent of the world’s GDP.

For Canada as a trading nation and Canadian pork producers who have long exported over 60 per cent of their production it would be difficult to overstate the importance of this agreement.

However in the sound and the fury that is the typical rhetoric of such negotiations particularly as they come down to the finish line much has been made of Canada’s supply managed dairy and feather industries and how they need to be laid on the table for significant change.

This is a whole debate in of itself probably best not gone into here, other than I believe most if not all Canadian pork producers would be of the mind as long time free traders that these industries have been cossetted too long and need to step into the real world. Certainly for the common good of Canada but ultimately their own good. As huge of country that Canada is it would very quickly feel like a very small island should it find itself on the outside looking in on TPP.

So as always much for Canadian pork producers to ponder, consider and anticipate this summer but TPP tops the list and they want to more than hope cool heads prevail.

Enjoy your summer and may it be a safe and fun one for you and yours!

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