Hog farmers hope campaign will help

LEDUC, Alta. — Alberta pork producers have voted to launch a public relations campaign to help publicize their plight.

Producer Jaco Poot said few Albertans know hog farmers are struggling to pay their bills and stay in business.

“Consumers and the average neighbour doesn’t know what is going on in the industry,” Poot said during Alberta Pork’s annual meeting before producers voted for an awareness campaign.

“We have to create way more awareness in the general population of where we are today.”

Northern Alberta pork producer Rocky Morrell said there is a disconnect between consumers, retailers and producers. He estimates that the province’s 1.2 million sows will drop to 400,000 if changes aren’t made.

“This is a race to the bottom,” he said.

“Then consumers might think of us as a niche market.… The only game in town is to try and get retailers and consumers to try and understand what is going on.”

Tony Martinez of Donald’s Fine Foods in Richmond, B.C., said consumers need to understand they can’t buy the cheapest American-imported pork in the grocery store.

“We have to get consumers to understand they must pay more.”

Morrell said the campaign needs to be about more than trying to persuade consumers to eat more pork. Instead, consumers need to know they must be willing to help sustain an industry or Canadian pork production will disappear.

“We need to change from selling pork to sustaining this industry or we will be gone.”

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