Farmscape with Bruce Cochrane is reporting that an on-line petition calling on the federal government to recognize the extreme crisis faced by the Canadian Pork industry is gaining momentum.
Canadian hog producers are reeling from a combination of high feed costs, a stronger Canadian dollar, reduced U.S. market access due to Country-of-Origin Labelling, reduced access to credit and fallout from the H1N1 flu.
An on-line petition, addressed to federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, and co-ordinated by East-Man Feeds, calls for federal support.
East-Man Feeds special analyst Kelly Godlien estimates the petition is attracting about 200 signatures per day.
Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that U.S. hog prices fell Wednesday to their lowest levels in nearly two years as investors worried a resurgence of H1N1 flu, commonly called swine flu, will have consumers avoiding pork again this fall.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a newspaper this week that the flu will flare up after schools open in the fall and there will not be enough vaccine early in the flu season.
“That reminded people that we have a potential problem coming,” said Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economist told Reuters. “In the hog industry, there is a fair amount of concern that it (flu) will be back in the news a lot.”
Talk that producers have been slow to reduce their herds despite nearly two years of losses also prompted selling at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog markets.
“The expectations are that we will have a glut of pork and that demand is not going to improve in the next couple of months because of the flu situation,” said Dennis Smith, livestock broker at Archer Financial.
Cases of H1N1 flu have continued to increase around the world, but the flu has largely been out of the headlines since last winter. However, it could reemerge as a major news event if cases and deaths increase this fall.
“Hopefully the press will continue to call it H1N1 and not call it swine flu. Obviously that’s something that is going to weigh on these markets,” said James Burns, a hog trader at the CME told Reuters. The flu is not spread by pigs or pork.