Here is another great example of the Canadian Government’s concern about the health of the population and the environment. Industrial production of high-fat content, nutritionally unnecessary pork is one of the most environmentally destructive of agricultural activities. So when the pig feeders scream about H1N1, the high cost of corn and protectionism in the US does the government dare say that it takes about 6 pounds of corn to produce one pound of pork, so eat the corn instead, which is healthier too. That would be political suicide; hundred of porkers would block highways with their tractors. No Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture says we should ruin our health and the environment by eating MORE pork. That keeps the porkers happy and keeps him in his job and encourages even more people, with limited entrepreneurial creativity, to take up pig feeding.
Of course, if all domestic swine were eliminated world-wide, there would be no more reservoir to generate nasty influenza viruses which have killed millions of people in the past and will probably do so in the near future. Billions of people with dietary rules forbidding pork manage to live quite normally without any pork. The rest of the world would be better off without any domestic swine, too.
Ottawa considers culling hogs
H1N1, feed prices add to industry’s decline
Globe and Mail
Saturday, July 18 2009
The federal government is poised to trim the fat out of Canada’s hog industry and is considering culling the entire sector by up to 20 per cent to do it.
The move would respond to pleas from a struggling pork industry that has found itself overextended in recent years as flagging demand and high feed prices have sheared profits down to nothing.
‘We can’t continue on like this,’ said Jurgen Preugschas, an Alberta hog farmer and president of the Canadian Pork Council. ‘I can’t pay my bills right now. That’s why we need the government to step in and assist producers so that the industry can stay in the game. Otherwise, a meltdown would jeopardize about 42,000 jobs.’
In past years, the council has urged the federal government to assist tapped-out hog producers with loans and advances that would keep their operations afloat until favourable markets returned.
But the lobby group now seems resigned to the prospect that the high times are gone for good.
In its recently released Strategic Transition Plan, the pork council calls on the federal government to buy out the worst-off producers at $500 per sow, plus the market value of the animal. By 2014, the plan foresees an 18-per-cent drop in Canadian pork production, from 31 million pigs in 2008, down to 25.5 million. That would follow on a 13-per-cent contraction over the past three years, according to Statistics Canada figures. ‘We are having day-to-day discussions with Canadian Pork Council,’ Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said yesterday, ‘reviewing their proposal, and working together to find a solution that will help hog producers in this difficult economic climate.’
The brunt of those difficulties comes from a dismal bit of math: producers need more than $150 per pig to break even, but they’re only getting around $120.
‘Usually the summer brings a rise to about $170,’ said Mr. Preugschas. ‘But we just haven’t seen the increase this year.’
A battery of events have contributed to the shortfall. The H1N1 outbreak, also called swine flu, closed off a number of international markets and weakened North American demand. The recession has also severely cut down protein consumption in all forms. And new Country of Origin Labelling requirements in the United States have severely interrupted cross-border shipments.
‘Before the COOL laws, the business model between Canada and the U.S. worked very well,’ said Mr. Preugschas. ‘The U.S. government wrecked a very good business model.’
But the biggest hit of all has come in the from of skyrocketing feed prices. Corn that once went for $2 a bushel now hovers around $3 – with no drop in sight.
‘I think that this shift in prices is set for the long term,’ said Derek Brewin, agricultural economics professor at the University of Manitoba. ‘The ethanol programs in the U.S. have pushed corn higher, and that will likely remain that way.’
The Department of Agriculture will be announcing some manner of assistance package in the coming weeks. So far, Mr. Ritz is only offering a verbal boost to the industry: ‘Canadians can help tremendously by putting more pork on their fork and their barbecues this summer.’