Alberta Pork chairman encouraged by federal efforts

The chairman of the Alberta Pork Producers Development Corp. is encouraged by new federal support for the ailing hog industry.

Herman Simons

The chairman of the Alberta Pork Producers Development Corp. is encouraged by new federal support for the ailing hog industry.

But Herman Simons said it’s probably too early to pass judgement on a trio of initiatives announced by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Saturday.

The government has pledged $17 million for an international pork marketing fund to help develop new markets for Canadian pork products; it will help arrange long-term, government-backed loans for hog operations seeking to restructure; and it is committing $75 million for a transition program to assist producers seeking to exit the industry.

Details are expected to become available over the next few weeks.

“Ultimately, the delivery of the programs will be the proof on how effective those programs will be,” said Simons, who farms near Tees.

“There’s definitely the potential that it can help out the industry to get through this downturn on the short-term basis.”

Hog producers in Alberta have been hit hard by adverse market conditions that have resulted in steep losses.

The strong loonie has hurt exports, feed costs are high, new country-of-origin labelling requirements in the United States have made Canadian hogs and pork less attractive south of the border, and the H1N1 influenza outbreak has undermined demand for pork.

In Alberta, there has already been a sharp drop in animals numbers. Only about 2.5 million hogs are expected to be processed this year, down a million from just a few years ago.

This has raised concerns that the numbers could drop below the point where it is viable for Olymel to operate its processing plant in Red Deer.

The proposed marketing fund won’t bring immediate relief to the embattled pork industry, noted Simons. And under the loan program, producers will still have to pay principle and interest down the road, which could affect their long-term profitability.

As for the transition program, Simons said it should help reduce supply, which in turn would improve prices for the producers who remain. But a further drop in numbers could also jeopardize the processing industry.

“That’s where it becomes very difficult for us as an industry to really ascertain whether this program is going to be effective or not,” said Simons. “On the one side, we need reduction; on the other side, we need to be able to sustain critical mass.”

The federal support is nonetheless welcome, he said, particularly since it appears the provincial government has done all it is prepared to.

“From an industry perspective, we just hope it’s not too late.”

Simons said there’s something he and his counterpart would prefer to government assistance.

“The best thing that we can see is an increase in the consumption of pork, and preferably Canadian pork.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Central Albertans learn about farm life at Sunnybrook Farm Museum

Pioneer Days Festival in Red Deer Saturday-Sunday

Number of seniors who play bridge in Red Deer growing

Red Deer Bridge Club has been around for close to 60 years

PHOTOS: Buccaneers battle Wolfpack in AFL semifinal

The Central Alberta Buccaneers battled the Calgary Wolfpack in the Alberta Football… Continue reading

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

VIDEO: Central Albertans learn about Icelandic poet at Stephansson House

Harvest Fair and Quilt Show hosted at Stephansson House in Spruce View Sunday

Trump says his White House counsel not a ‘RAT’ like Nixon’s

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his White House… Continue reading

Wildfire moves closer to Glacier National Park’s scenic road

MISSOULA, Mont. — A wildfire in Montana’s Glacier National Park is forcing… Continue reading

Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Couillard march in Montreal’s Pride parade

MONTREAL — Thousands of cheering spectators lined the streets of Montreal on… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

In the wake of deadly flooding in the Indian state of Kerala,… Continue reading

Indonesia’s Lombok island jolted by multiple quakes

SEMBALUN, Indonesia — Strong earthquakes jolted the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok… Continue reading

Afghan president calls for Eid cease-fire, Taliban to reply

KABUL — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called for a conditional cease-fire… Continue reading

Montreal may have less influence after October provincial election

MONTREAL — When Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault recently dismissed the… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month