Canada’s pork producers desperate call for emergency government assistance

Pork producers in Canada have called on the government to pay them emergency funds of CAN$20 per pig to help them stay in the business, Chris McCullough writes.

The farmers have watched their businesses slide into serious financial difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic and are losing money hand over fist.

Not only has the pandemic put farm families and their livelihoods at risk it has the serious potential for a sharp rise in food insecurity.

Producers across the country say they now expect to lose $30 to $50 a hog for every one they sell in 2020, costing farmers across the country $675 million dollars.

The virus has pushed the pork sector into free fall by disrupting supply chains and driving down prices. Farmers say the big fear is that the market devastation caused by the coronavirus will only increase as the pandemic drags on.

The Canadian Pork Council (CPC) is the national voice for hog producers in Canada. A federation of nine provincial pork industry associations representing 7,000 farms, the organisation plays a leadership role in achieving and maintaining a dynamic and prosperous Canadian pork sector.

CPC chair and Manitoba pig producer Rick Bergmann, said: “We are asking the government for an emergency payment of $20 per hog so that pork producers can continue to pay bills, feed pigs and keep producing food for Canadian families.

“Without it, family farms will be lost. In turn we will continue to see disruption in the food supply chain, and increased food insecurity as supplies tighten and food becomes even more expensive,” added Mr Bergmann.

The Canadian Pork Council has been working with government officials to impress upon them the seriousness and the urgency of the situation and demands swift action.

“Governments don’t need to reinvent the wheel, they have the tools to fix this problem,” said Mr Bergmann. “They need the political will to do it.”

Governments have said food security is a priority, but so far they have offered little concrete support for Canada’s food producers. Canadians risk seeing food shortages if governments do not step forward with the support farmers need to keep producing food before the end of the month.

“Pork producers can simply not afford to continue raising animals under these conditions,” said Rene Roy, CPC vice-chair. “We love what we do, and love being able to feed people a safe, high-quality protein, but we feel very lonely shouldering the impact of this global crisis.”

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