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Half Ontario's Pork Farms At Risk Of Leaving Business

by 5m Editor
7 December 2007, at 9:37am

CANADA - If feed prices and the Canadian dollar continue to rise, then up to 50 per cent of the estimated 3,100 pork farms in Ontario could potentially be facing a dire financial situation, says an agricultural economist working with Ontario Pork.

The association, which represents Ontario's pig producers, says that all swine farms are being affected. And, as the pork industry represents about CAN$850 million in farm cash receipts to the province's economy, so there is a strong argument that the government must take action to help the industry survive. It is estimated that current loses are averaging about CAN$65 per hog sold.

"We can almost say this is a 'perfect storm' as all the negative factors have joined to create unbearable conditions and a gloomy forecast for the pork farmer," said Ken McEwan, a College Professor at Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph. "The rising dollar, alternative fuel production raising the price of corn, packer uncertainty, potential trade barriers and challenges, and the pork industry being in the trough of its economic cycle has added extreme pressure to pork farmers. And it is not just the farmers suffering. Suppliers to the industry are suffering too," he added.

But losing 1,500 producers doesn't tell the whole story. The estimated economic impact of the pork industry to the Ontario economy is about CAN$ 4.7 billion.

"It is a very tough situation. I'd hate to see so much loss, but it will be inevitable without help," said Keith Robbins, Director, Communications and Consumer Marketing at Ontario Pork. "Economists say it could take a year for the industry to recover. Few farms are in a position to suffer this type of catastrophic loss that length of time. One way the consumer can help the industry is to ask for Canadian pork at your local retailer," he added.

Ontario Pork represents the farmers who market hogs in the province. Its activities cover a number of areas including: hog marketing, research, government representation, environmental issues, consumer education and food quality assurance. The pork industry in Ontario accounts for 33,000 jobs.

5m Editor