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Feds, CPC agree on hog program objectives

Canada’s main hog farmers’ group and the federal government say they’ve agreed on a basic set of objectives for aid programs including funding for farmers’ exit strategies.

At least one Ontario hog producer, however, has animal welfare advocates condemning his or her personal exit strategy.

The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) said Tuesday it was “scrambling” to care for a group of seven weeks-old piglets dumped off that day in a makeshift plywood pen outside Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s local constituency office with some scattered bedding, food and water but no shade from the sun.

According to CBC, a sign posted by the pen read, “Because of market conditions and H1N1, we are no longer able to care for these pigs.”

The broadcaster noted another group of seven piglets had been similarly dumped off at provincial Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky’s constituency office at Belleville.

The OHS said it wouldn’t rule out the possibility of pressing charges in the incident, but CBC noted no one has claimed responsibility. The incidents follow a meeting Friday between the Canadian Pork Council and federal ag officials aimed at finalizing details for a three-prong assistance package.

“Every day is critical,” CPC chairman Jurgen Preugschas said in a release Wednesday. “Both the pork council and the federal government understand the urgency of obtaining formal approval of program details in the swiftest possible manner.

“Both organizations are committed to working on the application process, setting up the auction system and getting money into the hands of producers as soon as humanly possible.”

“Without bias”

At the meeting, similar programs such as the BSE fed cattle set-aside program and tobacco assistance program were discussed, the CPC said.

The hog programs’ agreed-upon objectives, the CPC said, include allowing hog producers to consider both the long-term loan program, aimed at helping hog farmers obtain credit for restructuring, and the hog farm transition program, aimed at helping producers exit the industry for a minimum of three years.

It was also agreed, the CPC said, that the programs should “contribute to permanently reducing Canada’s hog production capacity.”

As well, the CPC said, it was agreed that all operation types, including farrow-to-finish, farrow-to-wean, weaners and finishers, from all regions of the country, should get equal access “without bias” toward a specific type of operation or region of the country.

Apart from the long-term loan and transition programs, the package also includes funding for Canada Pork International to work on export market development.

“The CPC will communicate details to producers as soon as they become available and we’ll be working hard to get the details worked out quickly,” said Preugschas, who farms at Mayerthorpe, Alta.

As for the piglets in Ottawa, the OHS said Tuesday it would arrange for temporary housing inside a shelter “full with cats, dogs and small animals” while seeking a foster farm.

“Whatever the motivations for leaving these pigs in the middle of the city, it’s disturbing that someone would make a choice to abandon helpless animals like this,” OHS executive director Bruce Roney said.

“Now we’re left to care for these piglets, on top of the hundreds of abandoned and homeless domestic animals we care for on a daily basis.”

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