Canada to spend $75 million to shrink hog production

Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:36pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada will pay some farmers to stop raising hogs and offer loans to help others restructure, assistance that drew praise from Canadian hog farmers and concerns from a top U.S. farmer group.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced the assistance for the reeling industry on Saturday.

"We know Canadian hog producers can become profitable again, but we have to face tough realities to make our pork industry lean and competitive," Ritz said at a university farm research center.

The government will ask farmers to bid for funding totaling C$75 million ($68 million) to stop hog production for at least three years. Farmers have complained that they lose C$40 per hog they sell because of high feed costs and weak prices.

Banks will offer long-term loans at market rates backed by government credit to allow viable hog farms time to restructure. Short-term credit will also be available for operating costs such as feed and payroll.

"We think it's going to make a huge difference," said Jurgen Preugschas, president of the Canadian Pork Council and a hog farmer in the western province of Alberta. The loans will give some farmers the liquidity they need to stay in business, while allowing other farmers to halt production, he said.

HOG INDUSTRY CRISIS

Canada's hog industry faces its biggest crisis in 60 years, with high feed prices, a buoyant Canadian dollar and a U.S. food-labeling law.   Continued...

 
<p>Baby pigs in their pen on a small farm outside of Calgary, Alberta, April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>