OTTAWA – Bruce Hudson isn’t too worried about Russian’s latest round of sanctions: The pork business is booming, which is good news for the sixth-generation farmer.
“We’re probably in a really good time right now. Prices are as good as they’ve ever been,” says Hudson, who operates Panmure Farms in Kinburn, Ont., about 30 minutes northwest of Ottawa.
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But he admits that losing Canada’s third-largest export market for pork is bound to have an impact, even if Ontario officials have promised to support pork producers in the face of sanctions. The province exported $18 million in pork products to Russia in 2013.
“It’s up to Russia to determine how long it’s going to be, and really we don’t know,” says Hudson.
“When you lose a market, you’re going to lose something at some point in the whole process. But time will tell.”
Still, Canada’s pork producers are poised to take the biggest hit in the latest round of sanctions announced Thursday. Canada’s agricultural exports to Russia amounted to $563 million in 2012, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, mostly in frozen pork.
There are currently as many as 1,000 container loads of pork on ships bound for Russia, according to the Canadian Meat Council. They will have to be redirected.
“It becomes a huge concern for producers, because any time pork product backs up at the packers, that generally relates to a lower price paid to producers,” said Karl Kynoch, chairman of the Manitoba Pork Council.
“Hopefully, with the good relationships that our packers have with other countries, they can … redirect the pork product into other good markets sooner rather than later.”
Hudson agrees. He hopes the European free trade deal, which recently had its text finalized, will open up new markets to fill the gap.
“I think we can find a market somewhere else. We ship to 140 countries presently, and with the European trade deal being finalized, maybe there’s some opportunities there,” he says.
He adds it’s strange to be caught up in a geopolitical battle.
“It’s amazing how the world comes to your doorstep every day. I go about my job, and our family’s job here is to raise quality pigs for quality pork products and hopefully to feed the world,” says Hudson.
“And we do feed the world, that’s the interesting part about it. It’s not my next-door neighbour. It’s the world.”
with files from