WINNIPEG, Man. — With the looming U.S. Farm Bill threatening to cripple livestock trade between Canada and the U.S., Canadian exports of weanling hogs have continued to surge.
More than three million weanling hogs were trucked to the U.S. last year, which is more than twice the number exported to the U.S. in 1998.
Janet Honey, Manitoba Agriculture’s manager of market analysis and statistics, tells local media, “(Farmers) were making very good profits last year selling to the States.”
Manitoba is Canada’s leading exporter of weanling hogs to the U.S., with Ontario and Alberta close behind.
Besides price, other factors have helped spur increased weanling exports to the U.S., including a slowing of the U.S. hog industry, the low Canadian dollar and cheap feed prices in the U.S. which make it feasible to finish Canadian-born weanlings there.
This trend seems set to continue, as southern Minnesota has recently displaced the Canadian Prairies as the cheapest place to feed hogs, according to a recent study. With American crop subsidies, it makes sense for American farmers to finish Canadian hogs themselves.
Another reason for the increase in weanling exports is Canada’s strong reputation at producing quality pork.
With mandatory country-of-origin meat labeling on the way as early as 2004, there is concern this trend will be stopped in its tracks. Canadian-born weanlings would have to be segregated from American hogs during slaughter, which would act as a deterrent for the American meat industry.
“Canadian hogs would become a pain in the ass,” says Kevin Grier, senior market analyst with the George Morris Centre.
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