Canada: Quebec pork farmers reeling as a perfect storm creates economic crisis
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Published Dec 5, 2023
Quebec pork farmers are facing a crisis due to a combination of factors including COVID-19-induced slowdowns, labour shortages, the closure of slaughterhouses, global oversupply, high interest rates, and rising grain prices. This has led to farmers losing money on each animal they produce and has caused many to leave the industry or reduce their herds. Some farmers, like François Nadeau, have chosen to invest in upgraded facilities and technology to comply with new animal welfare rules and increase efficiency in order to weather the crisis. The industry has implemented a voluntary withdrawal program to reduce the number of producers and some compensation will be provided to those who leave, but it remains uncertain what will happen to the rest of the farmers who applied and won't be chosen.
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Despite economic conditions that industry leaders have called a crisis, Nadeau and his wife and co-owner of their business, Julie Bogemans, went ahead with a new building to house some of their 1,200 sows. It features high-tech feeding and cooling systems and bigger, open pens to replace many of the crates and cages that used to keep the animals confined. In an interview at his farm in St-Sebastien, a rural community about 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, Nadeau explained that the changes were made in part to ensure the farm complies with new federal animal welfare rules that come into force in 2029. "Despite everything that's happening, we're among those who still believe in (pig farming), despite the difficulties," he said. In the current economic climate, leaving pork production altogether seems to be the more popular option. Recently, more than 20 per cent of producers in the province applied for a program to compensate farmers who severely reduce their herds or quit — a ...