Canadian Pork Council modifies AgriStability ask

The Canadian Pork Council (CPC), on behalf of pork producers, is asking the federal government to consider “targeted enhancements” to AgriStability.

In a departure from the ask put forward by most in the agriculture industry, the CPC has sent a letter to the federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) agriculture ministers asking them to consider leaving the AgriStability payout trigger at 70 per cent but increase the compensation rate to 85 per cent.

“Pork producers are concerned that the cost of increasing the trigger to 85 per cent has created a barrier to movement at the FPT table. As a result, while the pandemic drags on and more farms are pushed to near financial collapse, there has been little action from governments to help them stay in business. Inaction cannot be an option, the consequences on Canadian farm families will be too severe, and therefore we believe the time has come to consider alternatives,” the letter says.

The CPC says that hog producers are experiencing some of the steepest, most profound declines the market has ever recorded. Forecasts made in June 2020 project that pork producers will lose $20 per hog for every hog they sell in 2020, for Canadian pork producers the total loss will be more than $500 million.

Due to regional differences Western Canadian producers will likely lose more than $45 a hog compared to the 5-year average, while Quebec producers will see lower losses. For isowean producers, piglets have actually hit zero or had no buyers materialize.

The pork council also points out that while government has rolled out some programs for businesses to access, programs such as the wage subsidy aren’t enough to make a real difference on hog farms, as salaries, wages, and benefits account for approximately 8 per cent of an average farm’s operating expenses.

Increasing the payout, but leaving the trigger point the same would retain AgriStability as a disaster program, respect Canada’s trade obligations, significantly reduce the cost to governments, but still provide additional support to those who are facing extreme loss, the CPC says in its letter.

Hear from Rick Bergmann, Canadian Pork Council, below:

Related: CPC asks government for around $500 million in emergency direct producer payments, Pork producers want a cut of packer profits