Federal agriculture minister tells hog producers answers coming soon

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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WINNIPEG - The federal government will soon respond to a request from beleaguered Canadian hog producers for help in restructuring their operations or exiting the industry, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Wednesday.
"I can tell you we are having day-to-day discussions with the Canadian Pork Council. We're very, very close, and as soon as we have something we'll give you a shout," Ritz told reporters following a speech in Winnipeg to the Canadian Special Crops Association convention.
The hog industry has been beset with problems ranging from overproduction and unfavourable exchange rates to high feed costs and the fallout from the outbreak of H1N1 flu, also called the swine flu, although it is not spread through pork consumption.
The industry has asked government for up to $1 billion in loans to help producers adjust to the new economic realities.
Recently, the pork industry proposed a five-year plan guiding it through the next five years. It's expecting a response from Ritz soon.
The plan calls for a downsized industry that includes fewer exports of live hogs to the United States, increased pork consumption in Canada and a reduction in annual Canadian pig production to 25.5 million hogs from 31 million in 2008.
Gary Stordy, a spokesman for the pork council, said farmers are beginning to adjust to their new economic environment but need loans to continue. Banks, which are under financial pressures themselves, are finding it difficult to lend them money.
"There's just a liquidity crisis," Stordy said.

Organizations: Canadian Pork Council, Canadian Special Crops Association

Geographic location: WINNIPEG, United States, Canada

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