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Hog farmers struggle to stay afloat

As Canada’s hog industry teeters on the brink of collapse, producerHerman Simons is thinking about his children and trying to beoptimistic about the coming year.

As Canada’s hog industry teeters on the brink of collapse, producer Herman Simons is thinking about his children and trying to be optimistic about the coming year.

Simons moved to Canada from Holland 21 years ago with only two suitcases and a dream of owning his own hog farm. Working hard and encouraged by governments to expand, Simons saw his operation near Tees, Alta., flourish as he and other Canadian producers put pork on dinner tables around the world.

But over the last three years thousands of hog farmers have been driven out of the industry by low prices, high production costs, protectionist U.S. trade rules and, more recently, by the effect of H1N1 on pork markets.

Producer groups such as the Canadian Pork Council and Alberta Pork are trying to restructure the industry so it can compete in the face of a strong Canadian dollar and high feed costs.

The long-term plan involves transforming the country’s pork from a mere commodity into a recognizable brand.

 
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