Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Million$ more in government help for Manitoba's high-maintenance hog sector.

by Larry Powell

Manitoba's Premier, Brian Pallister has announced another assistance package to Hylife Foods of more than $11 m over the next several year. (HyLife is now Canada's biggest pork processor.) Some $9.5m will come from the province, the rest from Ottawa. It will help the company pay for a pricey expansion of its killing plant in Neepawa and a new feed mill in the southwest.

Last November, I warned in a blog-post here, that Manitoba taxpayers had better be prepared to "dig deeper." Why? Because Pallister's Conservatives had just begun to deregulate this province's corporate hog sector, so it could expand. And, expand, it has! Countless new barns are going up, so that millions more animals can be raised and slaughtered here: And all with fewer regulations than ever to control pollution, disease or catastrophic barn fires. 

Given past history, my article reasoned, more "corporate welfare" was surely in the wind.

It documented at least half-a-billion dollars in aid that had already gone to the industry, nationwide, from federal and provincial treasuries over the previous decade. These included a so-called "loan" of $10 m to HyLife Foods. Turns out, it may not have been a "loan" after all! The agreement allows the Minister, at the stroke of a pen, to release HyLife from its obligation to pay that money back. (No one really knows if that is what will happen. At least, not yet.)
Part of HyLife's executive team, whose corporation you and I continue to
"prop up" with our tax dollars. A HyLife photo.

In the ensuing ten months, there have been several more announcements of aid totalling millions, possibly billions, to the agriculture sector, overall. While breakdowns are not always announced, the hog industry has received public funding for such things as "research" as has the "meat processing" sector (usually code for the two big swine killing plants in the province, operated by HyLife and Maple Leaf Foods)
Despite all of this, the hog sector's demands on our public treasuries are becoming even more shrill and frequent of late. It has even issued a formal call for more public assistanc to bail it out of its economic squeeze posed by the threat of a trade war with the States. Apparently, Canadian hog prices have already tanked in the midst of the dispute. 

The industry is also sounding more alarms recently over the apparently real possibility that more virulent and deadly hog disease, now spreading elsewhere around the world, may invade North America. How long do you think it will be before a similar calls goes out for public dollars to counter this threat? 

It's been said that, without the kind of public "largesse" that now flows regularly to the industry, and the fact it does not pay for any of the "external costs" it inflicts on public health and the environment, it would probably go broke in short order!

Before I pat myself on the back too much for being "prophetic," boy, was I was wrong about one thing! In my November story, I said the next rollout of "corporate welfare" would possibly be in about a year. 

If I had been writing with a quill pen, it pretty much happened (allowing for a bit of poetic license) "before the ink was dry!" 


"In Hogs We Trust."  
A critique of Manitoba’s “runaway” hog industry.

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