The Manitoba government will soon announce whether it will guarantee a producer-funded stabilization program for Manitoba hog producers.
“We’re hoping to come forward with some announcement in very short order,” Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn told Stonewall hog producer George Matheson Jan. 23 during the Keystone Agricultural Producers’ annual meeting in Winnipeg.
“I do apologize for the delay in doing the official announcement. Staff and I have talked about it.”
Speaking to reporters later Kostyshyn said the province has been discussing the idea of sharing the responsibility of guaranteeing the $75-million loan that would fund the program with the federal government.
“We need them on side to help us out,” Kostyshyn said.
Traditionally agriculture programs are cost shared 60 per cent by Ottawa and 40 per cent by the province.
Manitoba Pork Council chair Karl Kynoch proposed the program last November as a way to help Manitoba hog producers stay in business when prices are unprofitable.
The Manitoba Hog Stabilization Program would see a mandatory $5 levy applied to all hogs sold in the province. Farmers could opt out and get their money back. Those who participate would see their levy repay loans made through the program.
Hog prices are still unprofitable and will be until at least October, Matheson told Kostyshyn.
“So this (program) is very much needed,” he said.
“We’re disappointed we haven’t received a response yet.”
Earlier in the meeting KAP president Doug Chorney stressed the hog industry is important to Manitoba’s economy. Maple Leaf Foods’ hog-slaughtering plant in Brandon kills 17,000 hogs a day and employs 2,600 people.
“This is a big opportunity for everybody in Manitoba, not just farmers,” he said.
Kostyshyn acknowledged the hog sector is important and a long-term solution is required to tackle the ups and downs in the market. The whole industry, including processors, need to work together, he said.
“The producers need the processors and the processors need the producers,” Kostyshyn said.
Asked later if processors should contribute money to a stabilization program he replied: “Living in a perfect world it would only be fitting for that to be happening.
“I think the pork industry needs to have that discussion with the processors in Manitoba.”