Pork industry hurting: report

A dwindling herd and an exodus of producers are among the pork industry trends that Statistics Canada highlights in an analytical paper it issued on Tuesday. But an official with Alberta Pork says recent developments in the sector provide reason for optimism.

A dwindling herd and an exodus of producers are among the pork industry trends that Statistics Canada highlights in an analytical paper it issued on Tuesday. But an official with Alberta Pork says recent developments in the sector provide reason for optimism.

In a report entitled “The changing face of the Canadian hog industry,” the agricultural division of the national statistical agency describes how the Canadian pig herd declined by 15.7 per cent between 2006 and 2011. For Alberta, the drop was 31.9 per cent.

The paper also noted how the number of Canadian farms producing pigs fell 35.9 per cent during the same five-year period. In Alberta, the slide was even greater at 45.6 per cent.

Statistics Canada blamed these trends on a number of factors: low prices, high feed costs, harmful trade policies like the United State’s mandatory country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) legislation and disease — including H1N1 and its incorrect identification as “swine flu,” which undermined consumer confidence.

Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director with Alberta Pork, confirmed that it’s been trying times for hog producers.

“They had about seven years of no money, really,” he said.

“There were times when guys were selling pigs for minus $40, minus $50 — just hanging on.”

In recent months, however, improved prices and lower feed costs have allowed the industry to see some black ink again, said Fitzgerald.

“It’s giving producers some profit. A lot more than they’ve seen in the past.

“I think we’re not on the downhill anymore. It’s looking better.”

That said, the market pig count in Canada is still trending downward. Fitzgerald estimates the current tally at about 26 million, a far cry from the approximately 30 million in 2006.

In Alberta, market pig numbers are in the 2.3-million to 2.4-million range, as compared with about four million eight years ago. The number of registered producers in Alberta are about 375, said Fitzgerald, but fewer than 300 of these probably rely on pigs for their livelihood. Pork is still important to Canada’s balance of trade.

“It’s still around that $3.1 billion, $3.2 billion mark in exports,” said Fitzgerald, who believes global demand for Canadian pork will only increase.

In addition to the prospects of more liberalized trade with European and Asian countries, international demand for protein is growing, he said.

“When you look at the world overall, there are only so many places that grow food for the rest of the world and that number is dwindling.”

Challenges still exist, acknowledged Fitzgerald. Some of the old ones — like COOL — remain, and there are new ones. These include the ongoing threat of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) and restrictions on the use of temporary foreign workers by farmers and pork processors like Olymel.

But, he said, the outlook for the industry is improved from 2011.

“I think there’s a little more optimism for sure from where they were before.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Downtown Red Deer was packed with people who lined the streets to watch the Westerner Days parade on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Westerner Days parade cancelled, full details on modified event coming June 28

The 2021 edition of Westerner Days will look much different than any… Continue reading

City council wants to hear from the public at a May 25 hearing about whether the temporary homeless shelter should be allowed to remain in the downtown for another year. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer staff to recommend another extension to allow operations at current temporary shelter site

Following some more research city administration has received no other new locations… Continue reading

A scene from the short Western ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws,’ written and directed by Jason Steele, with support from Telus Storyhive. (Contributed image)
Red Deerians make ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws’ short Western film

Writer and director Jason Steele received a $20,000 Storyhive grant from Telus

Residents in several neighbourhoods reported little to no water pressure Tuesday night. (File photo by Advocate staff)
City hall to reopen for payments and customer service

Red Deer City Hall will reopen on June 21 for utility and… Continue reading

Char Rausch was selected as this year’s recipient of the Bob Stollings Award, which goes to an employee who has displayed outstanding civic performance in alignment with The City’s Cornerstone Values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
Char Rausch wins City of Red Deer Bob Stollings Award

The City of Red Deer is honouring employees differently this year. With… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price stops Vegas Golden Knights' William Karlsson as he is covered by Canadiens' Joel Edmundson during first period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal Friday, June 18, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Andreson’s timely scoring, Price’s goaltending give Habs 2-1 series lead over Vegas

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (OT) (Montreal leads series 2-1) MONTREAL —… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) as he looks for an opening during the first half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday, June 18, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Curry, Harris help 76ers stay alive, hold off Hawks 104-99

76ers 104 Hawks 99 (Series tied 3-3) ATLANTA — Seth Curry hit… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a two-dose fall is… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Mendicino has announced a new policy to help settle 500 refugees and their families in a news conference today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced plans to expedite applications and increase the… Continue reading

Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa, plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 18, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Bland leads at Torrey and shows the US Open is truly open

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Open prides itself on being the most… Continue reading

The Prime Minister's car waits outside the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is showing no sign he'll release unredacted documents about the firing of two scientists at Canada's highest security laboratory — despite the prospect of being publicly shamed in the House of Commons for his refusal to turn them over. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
PHAC head maintains he’s bound by law not to release docs on fired scientists

OTTAWA — The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant in Canada

OTTAWA — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly… Continue reading

Various vaping nicotine e-liquids or "juice" are shown in a lab at Portland State University in in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 16, 2019. The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products… Continue reading

Most Read