by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Quebec’s money-losing pork industry was singled out for particular attention when Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Claude Béchard today announced reforms, and committed $650 million annually for five years to the provincial farm income stabilization program and widely known as ASRA.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says Quebec has the highest hog production costs in Canada and processors pay the lowest prices. The provincial announcement promised that a reformed ASRA would support fewer pigs produced in Quebec. Companies that are bigger than the “model farms” used to calculate costs will pay higher premiums and fewer pigs will be covered.
It’s not clear what this means for the embattled pork industry in Ontario.
Gib Drury, Pontiac County, an executive member of the Quebec Farmers Association representing English-speaking farmers in the province, describes the five-year commitment of $650 million a year as “whopping” and says the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), which represents all of Quebec agriculture, advocated many of the reforms that are attached to the delivery of the money.
Nevertheless, the UPA says some of the measures related to ASRA will have consequences on Quebec farms. A UPA press release says some farms will get 20-30 per cent less support than at present, and there could be a destructive impact on thousands of farms. BF
“Ontario pork producers have been after this for a long time,” says Ontario Pork chair Wilma Jeffray. She says the changes to ASRA are “definitely a positive for the industry” but “it is a little early” to “determine the magnitude of the changes.”
ASRA “is at the top of mind with producers, in these frustrating times, to have to compete on an un-level playing field in the same country,” Jeffray says. The sow liquidation in 2008 made the differences between the pork producing industries in Ontario and Quebec” glaringly obvious,” she says.
“Ontario was moving sows out when Quebec didn’t’ seem to need to do it.”
A preliminary tally on the cull breeding program reveals that Ontario producers filed 201 claims and removed 41,486 animals while 70 producers in Quebec cut only 11,139 sows. BF