Olymel “not alone” in facing current economic challenges: SaskPork GM

The General Manager at SaskPork says it’s always unfortunate to hear of a hog barn closure anywhere in Canada.

Mark Ferguson reacted to Olymel’s recent closures of sow units in Quebec, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

“It’s basically the result of extremely tight margins in the hog industry – both today and what’s gone on over the past few years,” Ferguson said. “From what I understand these are temporary depopulations – just meant to be in effect until the industry returns to more profitable times – so ultimately we think all these units will be eventually repopulated.”

Ferguson noted the industry has been dealing with tight feed supplies and high feed costs since the 2021 drought.

He says lean hog futures have declined about 30 percent since March this year.

“I’m sure this has lead many operations to consider their future and prepare what looks to be a difficult fall ahead, so Olymel is not alone in terms of the financial pressures their facing,” Ferguson noted. “North American pork prices aren’t strong right now, there’s an oversupply of pork globally, so processors have tight margins and they’re putting downward pressure on hog prices as a result is basically the situation.”

While Ferguson hasn’t reached out to any affected Olymel staff in Saskatchewan, he hopes they can bounce back.

“I’m certain that the people involved will be able to find new roles within the industry, whether that’s with Olymel or another company,” he said. “We know the demand for workers in all of agriculture is extremely strong and it remains extremely strong with hog operations as well.”

Ferguson is aware Farm Credit Canada is offering support for the hog sector in eastern Canada, including deferred payments for 6 months to one year.

“We would obviously be very interested in learning more about what this kind of support might look like in terms of the interest rates and how that relationship would be different beyond a regular client-bank relationships, so I guess it’s one of those things we’re just going to stay tuned and hope to hear more on.”

Hear the full interview with SaskPork GM Mark Ferguson below.

Vice-President of FCC Operations in Ontario Perry Wilson says this help is geared towards producers in Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic Provinces, but is open to expanding it to producers in the West if the need arises.

Each application to this support program would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Hear the interview with Vice-President of FCC Operations Perry Wilson below.

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