Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ottawa funds 10% cull of pigs

Free markets have always worked to put people out of business. Since pig farmers and other farmers vote when the cost of production goes above sale prices or other market disasters ensue the Darwinian survival of the fittest principle and the discipline of the market mantra get thrown out the window. In a capitalist system when market discipline is regarded as politically unsustainable it will be abandoned. Profits are privatised but losses will be socialised.
Some of the pork will go to food banks. I just wonder why the pork could not be donated to countries that are short of food and cannot afford to pay market prices. Surely to use the pork for pet food is very much a second best.
The government policy might as well be developed as a full blown supply-management system but perhaps this would violate trade agreements I don't really know.

Ottawa funds 10% cull of pigs

$50 million program will pay to eliminate 150,000 breeding sows

Apr 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Dana Flavelle
Business Reporter

Amid soaring food prices and global shortages of some commodities, Canadian farmers are being offered $50 million by the federal government to destroy 150,000 pigs – or 10 per cent of the herd – this summer.

The program, announced in February, came into effect yesterday and is aimed at rescuing the industry from economic collapse.

Canada's hog farmers badly need help to cope with soaring feed prices and a higher dollar, said the Canadian Pork Council, which is administering the program.

"I've been farming for 30 years, and this is the worse crisis I've seen," said council president Clare Schlegel, a hog producer near Tavistock, Ont.

The money will be used to cull 150,000 breeding sows, which in turn will diminish the annual stock by three million pigs.

The destroyed sows will not become part of the commercial food chain.

The farmers say they hope about 25 per cent of the meat will go to food banks instead. Sows are usually made into sausages. Canada's processing industry won't be able to handle more than that, Schlegel said. The rest would be turned into pet food.

The program comes amid soaring demand and rising prices for pork in countries such as China. But Schlegel said Canadian farmers couldn't export enough pork to China to offset the decline at home.

Meanwhile, some Canadian stores are now stocking only imported pork because the lower United States dollar has made the price of domestic pork uncompetitive, he said. He declined to name the retailers.

Most Canadians would find it difficult to identify the country of origin from reading the packaging, he said.

In addition to currency woes, Canadian farmers are paying the price of a U.S. energy policy that has put grain for biofuels ahead of food, Schlegel said.

While this is not the first time Ottawa has paid Canadian farmers not to produce food, it's a first for the pork industry, Schlegel said, "and it's a humbling experience."

But farmers have no choice. With hog prices falling to $100 from $150 and the cost of feed rising by $40 to $50 per hog, farmers can't stay in business.

"People are losing their homes. They have no employment insurance. It's a desperate time."

Canada's 10,000 pork producers are mainly in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

A farmer who participates must agree to kill the stock in an entire breeding barn and not restock for three years.

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