At least six commercial hog producers in Alberta are advocating for reducing pig production in the province to pressure processors to change how animals are priced.
The group met with Alberta Pork’s board of directors and staff last week to discuss their proposal to cut production, and to determine where the provincial organization stands on the issue.
Producers in Western Canada, especially in Alberta, have been lobbying for changes to the pricing system for years, wanting to see a closer correlation between pig prices and pork cut-out values received by processors. They’ve also pointed out major discrepancies between pricing formulations of hogs between provinces that can add up to price differences of $100 per animal.
In a public letter responding to several key questions from the six producers, Alberta Pork says it believes “the current pricing system is not working and does not provide an equitable share of the pig’s value for producers.”
While noting it has no formal mandate or ability to enforce producers’ decisions to reduce the number of pigs available for processors, Alberta Pork says it “will support producers wishing to make production reductions by bring awareness of the initiative to others, including other producers, packers, and the media.”
“While Alberta Pork supports all legal approaches to encourage pricing reform, the organization will not ask producers to damage their operations against their will for overarching strategic considerations. That choice rests with each individual producer to do what they feel is best for their farm and the industry,” the letter continues.
Alberta Pork says it wants to see producers in the province receive at least an equivalent price to producers in Quebec, where hogs are priced according to a deal between producers and packers that’s overseen by an independent arbitrator. A resolution passed at the group’s 2020 annual general meeting calls on Alberta Pork’s board to explore marketing options, including a system similar to Quebec’s.
Pork producer organizations from the four western provinces — B.C. Pork, Alberta Pork, Sask Pork and the Manitoba Pork Council — formed the Western Pork Boards’ Pricing Committee in 2019, and have been meeting with processors Olymel, Maple Leaf Foods and Donald’s Fine Foods to discuss the pricing issue.
You can read Alberta Pork’s response to the six producers calling for the production reduction here.