Afederal program to help financially stressed hog farmers leave the industry saw 74 Manitoba producers receive $15.6 million to close their barns and sell their herds.
The program reduced the number of pigs in Manitoba by 136,381, including 36,748 sows, 45,073 weanlings and 54,734 market hogs, according to the Canadian Pork Council.
Manitoba was the second-largest province to benefit from the national program, which spent nearly $75 million to help 455 Canadian producers sell off over 837,000 animals and exit the business.
Ontario was by far the largest recipient. It saw 206 producers receive $27.2 million to sell over 315,000 pigs and mothball their barns.
Alberta followed Manitoba, with 63 producers receiving nearly $11 million.
The Hog Farm Transition Program (HFTP) staged four tenders between Nov. 2009 and March 2010 in which producers submitted bids to empty their barns and cease production. HFTP requires barns to remain closed for at least three years after depopulation.
The Canadian Pork Council, which administered the program, finished allocating funds Jan. 31.
HFTP achieved its two main objectives of helping producers leave the business and reducing pig numbers in Canada, said Gary Stordy, a CPC spokesperson.
“When we look at those two criteria, it was a successful program,” Stordy said.
Andrew Dickson, Manitoba Pork Council general manager, said HFTP benefited certain farmers, including some looking to retire and others in severe financial difficulty.
“For those producers, this was a very helpful program,” said Dickson. “For some of them, it may have staved off bankruptcy.”
However, the program had little overall impact on the Manitoba industry, he added. Manitoba has annual hog sales of $650,000 to $700,000, and $15 million isn’t much by comparison, Dickson said.
What’s really made a difference is that hog prices have risen since HFTP was launched 15 months ago. The return on an average market hog is $20 to $25 more than it was last year at this time, said Dickson.
“In terms of impact on the industry, some of these programs are helpful for individuals to get out. But for the industry as a whole, the big thing has been, the price has recovered.” [email protected]
– GARY STORDY, CPC