“Last year’s hog price was about $125 at this time, this year it’s about $175 and it looks relatively strong well into 2014,” Matheson, a Stonewall hog farmer and the Manitoba Pork Council’s representative to Keystone Agricultural Producers told the meeting. “And of course feed prices have fallen significantly so I think we’ll be in the black.”
The pork industry continues to struggle with issues, including the controversial use of sow stalls. Much of the public opposes them, while provincial hog councils say they’re the best way to handle sows.
“To tell you the truth I think in the end it will be a no-win situation for producers,” Matheson said.
If stalls remain there will be a huge public outcry, but if they are outlawed it will cost hog producers collectively about $1 billion to replace them — something few can afford given years of low or no profits.
“My feeling is if we focus on what’s best for the animal we can’t go too far wrong,” he said.
If sow stalls are banned farmers will need a lot of time to make the change, Matheson said.
Other KAP delegates reported that calf prices are relatively strong this fall, thanks in part to lower feed grain prices.
Delegates also said crop yields vary, but overall were above average.
KAP president Doug Chorney said there were some surprisingly high yields in the Red River Valley this year, but results are more variable in western Manitoba where some farmers are struggling with excess moisture.
“It’s a year where we’ve got a lot of optimism in the industry,” he said.
It’s also been a good year for harvesting KAP members. As of Sept. 30 KAP had 3,353 members, up five per cent from the same time a year ago.
As of Sept. 30 memberships were higher in each of KAP’s 12 districts except Districts 6 and 12.
The biggest increase was in District 5 where memberships jumped 23 per cent to 255.
KAP general manager James Battershill said he expects KAP will get the 3,700 members it had budgeted for by year’s end.