© AgMedia Inc.
by TREENA HEIN
A federal program to reduce Canada’s sow herd by 10 per cent fell short of its goal. An extension of the program’s time period now on the way should help make up the difference and put more cash into the hands of pork producers coping with the industry’s downturn, says Ontario Pork’s chair.
Originally, claims for culled breeding swine were allowed between Nov. 1, 2007 and Nov. 30, 2008. The program’s extension now allows claims for culling from Aug. 1 to October 31, 2007.
Curtiss Littlejohn, Ontario Pork’s chair, says the government has responded to requests from both provincial and federal pork producers' associations. “This program is providing much-needed help to a segment of our industry that ceased operations prior to the (program)."
"Some pork producers made tough business decisions to reduce their herds before this program started,” Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz stated in a press release March 18. “We're changing the program to make sure those producers get the support they deserve."
The Canadian Pork Council managed the $50 million cull breeding swine program, launched in February 2008. The program was initially expected to reduce the country’s sow herd by 10 per cent, says Gary Stordy, a Council spokesperson, but fell short.
The original program issued compensation for 113,376 culled animals, which reduced the national herd by 7.4 per cent. A cap on the number of sows killed in each province was dropped as the program progressed. Applicants agreed to empty a breeding barn and leave it empty for three years.
In total, the Council approved 513 applications from across Canada. Correction: Of those 213 came from Ontario, representing 41,814 eligible animals or 37 per cent of the total amount processed in the program. Incorrect numbers were provided.
Ontario’s pork industry is still suffering through an extended period of downturn, and the assistance “will hopefully ease some the burden of those who have wound down their operations last year," Littlejohn says.
Producers can make claims for the extension until June 30. As in the original program, producers can receive up to $225 per animal in addition to compensation for slaughter and disposal costs.
Morgan Radford, the Council’s technical issues analyst, says that procedures and rules for the extension will be similar to those for the original program; however, pork farmers who participated before should be aware that the new forms and some timelines may be slightly different. Update: The new forms are not yet available. Radford says that when everything is finalized, the program will be announced nationally through the Council's website.
Stordy notes there are now 28 per cent fewer farms reporting hogs in January 2009 than in January 2006. Hog inventories have also decreased in January of this year by 10.2 per cent from January of last year, and a full 18 per cent from January 2006. BF