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Hog loan program, exit funding on deck

Ag lenders are expected to be ready to start working Monday (Oct. 5) with hog farmers on business plans needed for federally-guaranteed loans, while the forms needed for federal funding to exit the hog sector are to follow.

Farm Credit Canada and other financial institutions are to negotiate with applying hog farmers for loans specific to their farm operations, “based on viable business plans,” the federal government said in a release Friday.

“By using government-backed loans, Canadian pork producers will have better access to credit and the opportunity to restructure for the long term,” the government said.

“We know the Canadian pork industry can be profitable and that’s why we’re offering government-backed loans to help them weather the current economic storm,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in the same release.

“But we also know the industry needs to restructure and we’re working with the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) to deliver funding for those who need to transition to another sector.”

To that end, the CPC is expected to have registration forms and further information for the Hog Farm Transition Program available for hog farmers starting Thursday (Oct. 8).

“Wait and see”

Transition program applications are to be based on a tendering process that allows producers to bid for the amount of funding they need to take their barns out of operation for at least three years.

The transition program will be retroactive to April 1, so hog farmers who depopulate their barns prior to applying for the program will still be eligible, the government said.

The Manitoba Pork Council, for one, said Friday the details of the federal programs — which were announced and outlined in general terms in August — have arrived “not a moment too soon.”

“We’re relieved to see that the government has finally made this information public,” MPC chairman Karl Kynoch, a producer from Baldur, Man. and one of two Manitoba representatives on the CPC’s board, said Friday.

“Although the federal programs won’t provide the answer for every hog farm in Manitoba, now at least producers can move forward and begin to make some critical, crucial business decisions.”

Some producers “just can’t afford another loan” and the federal transition program may be their only option, Kynoch said in the MPC’s release.

“The bidding process will be a major challenge because producers can submit bids, but they still have to wait to see if their bids are accepted.”

However, he said, the CPC “is working hard to make this process move as quickly as possible.”

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