Olymel shutdown prompts alternative measures to safeguard pigs

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On Monday, February 15, Olymel announced a temporary but indefinite suspension of operations at its Red Deer pork processing facility due to COVID-19 related issues in the community. Many of Alberta’s commercial hog farmers ship to this facility on a weekly basis, and the plant shutdown has since prompted producers to deploy contingency plans and seek alternative solutions for marketing their pigs. The closure of any processing facility, even for a short period of time, places producers in a precarious position.

Producers are adapting to the unexpected conditions by adjusting feed levels to slow their animals’ growth, while seeking processing capacity at facilities across western Canada and the U.S., as options for moving market-ready hogs. In addition, some producers are opting to move younger pigs to empty barns in the U.S. to free up space for larger pigs at home.

Alberta Pork is currently in discussions with the Government of Alberta to activate financial supports through the federal/provincial AgriRecovery program, similar to what has been used to address COVID-19 issues in the Alberta cattle industry, as well as the Ontario hog industry. To help facilitate this request, Alberta Pork is asking producers who normally ship to Olymel and are now forced to ship to other markets to voluntarily submit any settlement statements and transportation bills to Alberta Pork.

In addition to using this information to help recover financial losses, Alberta Pork hopes to monitor industry responses to the needs of producers faced with this COVID-related closure.

All information shared will be kept confidential by Alberta Pork. The summarized results of this cost and revenue comparison will be communicated to government and producers as soon as possible.
To submit your settlement statements and transportation bills, please send your photographed, scanned, or digital-copy documents to Bijon Brown, Production Economist, Alberta Pork by email at bijon.brown@albertapork.com or by fax at 780-479-5128.

For more information on this initiative, please contact Darcy Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Alberta Pork by email at darcy.fitzgerald@albertapork.com or by phone at 780-491-3529, toll-free at 1-877-247-PORK (7675).