If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Pork sector

WINNIPEG, Aug. 17 – As talks begin toward reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement, John Ross of the Canadian Pork Council, repeats what many in the pork and beef industries in Canada and the United States have been saying all along: First, do no harm.

“The worst thing that could happen to us was if we went backwards,” he said in an interview. He said it would upset the industry in all three countries if a new NAFTA brought in tariffs, border fees or increased regulations.

“The base is where it should be. The product moves where the market takes it.”

He said pork producers and packers in all three countries have expressed satisfaction with the present deal, so at most he said negotiators might want to look at streamlining regulations to make the cross-border flow of goods easier.

As well, he said steps to further standardize inspections would help support the integrated North American pork market.

And, he said, he’s not too worried about the political rhetoric that can sometimes inflame emotions when trade talks are in the works. He said politicians in all countries have their constituents to play to, and they have messages they need to get across to the public.

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“At the end of the day, we got a good thing going and I don’t think anybody is going to want to upset that.”

The Canadian pork industry is heavily export dependent with about 70 per cent of production exported at an estimated worth of C$4 billion, according to data from the Canadian Pork Council

Most of that goes to the U.S. and Mexico, with 408,000 tonnes of pork worth about $1.4  billion going to the U.S., the top market for Canadian pork.

The U.S. pork industry is also geared toward exports. It shipped 2.31 million tonnes of pork in 2016, according to the National Pork Board, worth about US$5.94 billion. The top five markets for U.S. pork is Mexico, China, Japan, Canada and South Korea.

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  • Denise

    You can have a free and easy NAFTA,all you want, but that won’t fix the real problems facing the hog industry.The model for hog production is broken.
    The costs of hog production continue to rise, in order to TRY and prevent the spread of increasingly virulent diseases. Diseases that are nurtured and becoming more resistant from over-crowding these animals in unnatural conditions, without sunshine, fresh air, and the earth beneath them.
    Remember SUNSHINE is the best disinfectant there is!! And fresh air!!
    More and better trained staff are necessary to perpetuate this failing model, plus the use of more chemicals, water, and heat energy. Bio-hazardous materials, disease -contaminated hog slurry, and dead animals have to be disposed of. No room for error!!! Where does it all end up?
    Isn’t it already unsustainable in cost, animal welfare, and environmental damages?
    Meanwhile, the residents, outside the hog industry, in rural communites and cities, are just expected to stand by and watch this nightmare unfold, with the deaths of thousands of pigs, the pollution of the air we breathe, and the contamination of water and soil we need to survive and be a healthy and strong society?
    What happened to democracy?
    The factory hog industry came to the province and the province sold it’s soul.
    At last Mother Nature has had enough and intervened.