Hogs

The number of hog producers on the island is dwindling, as are prices. The hog industry in PEI, like the rest of the country, is in crisis. Since the implementation of free trade policies in the 1980’s, producers in the country have noticed a downward spiraling trend. Large grocery chains have moved towards centralized buying, who often opt for cheaper products produced overseas, and ignore local producers. Coupled with the recent spike in feed costs due to demand for grain for ethanol, and the high Canadian dollar, the industry simply can’t make a living.
Read more about the crisis.

In recent months islanders have been discussing the real challenges facing the industry and the need to make changes in order to strengthen the fabric of rural livelihoods.

There are approximately 130 hog farms (although some estimates are as low as 75) producing 200,000 hogs annually. Many hog farms have moved to confined housing with highly mechanized, temperature-controlled barns. In order to save the industry from collapse, many are beginning to rethink pork production on the island.

In the Fall of 2006, Natural Organic Food Group (no longer in existence) along with PEI Pork Plus took over the recently closed Maple Leaf Foods pork processing plant in Charlottetown, with plans to move towards total organic pork production on the island. In early 2008 the provincial government called in a loan of $1.5 million after an audit demonstrated that in order for the NOFG plant to operate successfully, it would require a cash infusion of nearly $9 million from the provincial government. NOFG was not able to meet the demands, and walked away from the deal. The plant was being operated temporarily by the provincial government and was later sold to a bottle recycling company. Hog producers now must ship their animals to the Larsen plant in Nova Scotia, or to plants in Quebec.