Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Hog cash prices nearing record highs

CNS Canada –– Cash prices for Canadian hogs are nearing record levels due to concerns about reduced North American supplies because of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) that’s plagued U.S. farmers and a handful in Canada this winter.

Futures prices for hogs reached record levels in the U.S. in early March, with prices rallying after the release of an article by Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics on March 3.

The article said anywhere from two million to 2.5 million sows in the U.S. have been infected by the disease, which created concerns about tight supplies this summer, according to Brad Marceniuk, a provincial livestock economist in Saskatoon.

How many pigs are lost because of disease won’t be known until this summer because it’s affecting baby pigs, who wouldn’t normally go to market until they’re six months old, he said.

“I think the market is going to be correlated to how much the supply goes down. The thing that not everybody understands is how many pigs we will lose,” he added.

As of early March, Canadian hog cash prices were around $207 to $209 per 100 kilograms, which is near the record of around $223 per 100 kg, Marceniuk said.

Though farmers in Canada are happy to take advantage of the recent stronger prices, they’re also very worried about the disease coming to their farms.

“Everybody is kind of on pins and needles because they’re hoping that they don’t have the disease on their farm,” said Marceniuk.

Canadian hog producers are focusing on keeping everything clean and disease-free, and aren’t thinking of expansion because of the stronger prices, he said.

“I think the idea is to first keep your place clean and keep the virus out. And second, try to make some money,” he said. “It hasn’t been a very profitable industry for the past few years, so try to rebuild some of the equity that was lost during the hard times a few years ago.”

Confirmed cases

In Canada, PEDv has been confirmed on 31 hog farms as of last Friday, including 28 in Ontario and one each in Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. The virus’ first confirmed appearance in Canada was in January in Ontario.

Ontario reported new confirmed cases last Friday at three separate hog finisher operations in Oxford, Huron and Middlesex counties, plus one at a finisher operation in Bruce County on March 4.

In the U.S., as of March 1, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network reported confirmed PEDv cases at 4,106 sites across 26 states. The virus was first detected in the U.S. last April.

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Includes files from Network staff.


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