Money-losing hog farmers in Manitoba, hurt by high feed costs, need between $130 million and $150 million in government loan guarantees to survive, the Prairie province's biggest farm group said Monday.
Severe drought in the United States has decimated crops, which has led to higher costs for feed grains and pushed North American hog farmers into steep losses.
Manitoba is Canada's third-largest hog-producing province, after Quebec and Ontario.
Canada's second-biggest hog farm operation, Saskatchewan-based Big Sky Farms, entered receivership last week and another major hog production firm, Manitoba's Puratone, received protection from creditors on Wednesday.
Banks have stopped lending money to hog farmers large and small, leaving them hard-pressed to survive until they see more favorable market conditions, possibly next spring, said Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), Manitoba's general farm group.
"We are on the verge of not just having a downturn here -- this is an industry-killing experience that we're going through," Chorney told Reuters.
It costs $170 to raise a pig for sale, but farmers are currently collecting no more than $150 per hog, he said.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Friday he would meet with farm lenders this week to assure them the hog industry has a bright future.
Chorney said the Manitoba Pork Council, which represents the province's hog farmers, intends to meet soon with the province's agriculture minister, Ron Kostyshyn.
Spokespersons for Kostyshyn and Ritz could not be immediately reached for comment.
-- Rod Nickel
writes for Reuters from Winnipeg.