Longtime agriculture leader Cam Dahl will take the role of general manager at Manitoba Pork starting February 22.
“We’re very much looking forward to his working at Manitoba Pork,” said George Matheson, Manitoba Pork Council chair.
“(Outgoing manager Andrew Dickson) had a great history with us, but time moves on and we’re looking forward to the next chapter,” he added.
Dickson retired at the end of January after over 15 years with Manitoba Pork.
Dahl comes with extensive experience in the agriculture industry. He previously worked as president and then chief strategy officer of Cereals Canada and has served on numerous boards including the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.
He also served as general manager of the Manitoba Beef Producers from 2011 to 2014.
“At a high level, the issues facing export agriculture are similar,” Dahl told the Manitoba Co-operator. “We need to make sure that we have market access. That’s absolutely critical. We need to work on business risk management issues. Of course, there’s the impact of COVID-19 especially on the processors. There’s issues related to biosecurity and disease.”
Dahl said he sees opportunity for expanding the pork sector’s contribution to Manitoba’s economy.
There’s never a shortage of challenges in the pork sector, said Matheson. Dahl can expect a few.
In 2020, as pork processors, particularly in the United States, closed over COVID-19 outbreaks, a backlog of hogs drove prices down and dealt many producers huge losses.
Mid-July, representatives of provincial pork organizations met with processors and told the pork pricing system was broken and producers were fed up. Previously, the Canadian Pork Council released a study on the feasibility of a “Made-in-Canada Hog Price Indicator.”
Dahl will face the challenge of getting a pork pricing system that is more reflective of Canadian cost of production, said Matheson.
This will involve bringing producers and processors to the table with willingness to be fair to each other, Matheson said.
Dahl will face disease issues like porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), which has caused producers headaches over the last few years. They’ve been seeing some success against the disease recently, said Matheson.
The industry also continues to prepare for a potential outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).
Dahl will also be called on to “put a face to the industry” to American partners in the industry, said Matheson. Manitoba exports about three million weanlings to the U.S. every year, Matheson said.