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Quebec to flow culled pork to food banks

The Quebec government will put up $400,000 to direct 300,000 kg of pork from hogs slaughtered through the federal cull program to 18 food banks in the province.

Dr. Alain Poirier, the province’s director of public health, said in a release Monday that while the $50 million federal program covers the slaughter of surplus breeding stock, it doesn’t cover processing to make the pork available for people’s use.

The benefits to the province’s food banks in having such a source of meat available are too great to pass up, Poirier said, making the announcement Monday alongside Richard Decarie, president of the provincial food bank association.

Decarie said the financial aid is welcome, allowing the province’s 18 regional food banks and about 1,000 food aid organizations in the province to provide food to thousands of people who use their services.

With this announcement, Quebec follows the lead of the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta governments, each of which pledged funding in April to allow pork from the cull program to be processed for use by food banks in their respective provinces.

The federal cull program, which opened in mid-April for applications from hog farmers, is meant to help the hog industry restructure by helping cut Canada’s swine breeding herd (sows, boars and pregnant gilts) by about 10 per cent.

Under the cull program, qualifying hog farmers get $225 per breeding swine culled after April 14 until Sept. 1 (or until all funds are allocated, whichever comes first) or $225 per animal culled between Nov. 1, 2007 and April 13, 2008 less the selling price received.

Donations of surplus pork aren’t unheard of in Quebec. About 60,000 kg of pork and poultry were donated to food banks in January by Quebec packer Olymel, where workers logged extra hours that month at its St-Esprit plant to slaughter a “momentary surplus” of hogs created by the plant closing for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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