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Canada's pork producers seek government help to deal with COVID-19 fallout

Canada's pork producers are calling for government intervention to address the challenges facing the pork sector as a result of COVID-19 and avert potential shortage of pork.

24 April 2020, at 9:32am

As a result of COVID-19, Canada’s pork producers are facing an unprecedented financial crisis and food insecurity has never been greater.

Speaking to Farmscape, Canadian Pork Council Chair Rick Bergmann told reporters participating in a teleconference yesterday, we have a short term situation where producer prices are falling because of an oversupply of live hogs while consumer prices are rising because of shortages of processed pork.

"COVID-19 has pushed the pork sector into a free fall by disrupting supply chains and driving down the prices of hogs," says Bergmann.

"The market devastation caused by COVID-19 will only increase as the pandemic drags on and that's a huge dark cloud that will linger over our heads for some time.

"COVID-19 has quickly pushed farmers into a negative cash flow position. Their market returns don't even cover the cost of operating the business.

"The market prices in Canada have fallen by a minimum of 30 percent since the start of this crisis. Farmers across our country expect to lose approximately 675 million dollars.

"Individual producers are expected to lose about 30 dollars per hog for every hog marketed that they're selling this year. In some regions per head loss is going to be more than that. The per head loss is looking at more than 50 dollars.

"This really can't be maintained.

"Farmers need the government and have requested the government to take emergency action to help farmers pay their feed and their fuel bills to provide some confidence that there's a future in ensuring consumers have access to ready supplies of Canadian pork."

Bergmann warns, if hog farmers are forced off their farms and pork production declines, the shortages of pork in the grocery stores will deepen.