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SCFA, SSGA and SaskPork Press Release

For Immediate Release November 16th, 2007

Over the last few weeks, key leaders in the Saskatchewan pork and cattle industries have been in ongoing dialogue with regard to the current state of the livestock industry.

Since 2000, livestock producers have faced a continually shifting and unstable industry. From persistent drought (2000-2003) to BSE, and now an uncharacteristically strong and unpredictable dollar, a rapid increase in feed, energy and labour costs, and continued trade and regulatory impediments, the cattle and pork industries are at a critical point where immediate action is required.

"The strong loonie has had a huge impact on the entire livestock industry," states Neil Ketilson, General Manager of the Saskatchewan Pork Development Board. The currency and increased feed costs, as well as other factors, have penciled out to about a $40 loss in revenue per hog," Ketilson concludes.

Due to the current economic state, the two industries have been uniting in efforts to help identify options to the market challenges.

"In looking at solutions to help us through this market downturn, we feel that with immediate modifications,the existing CAIS program is our most logical option," comments Dennis Fuglerud, President of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association. "Although it is an established program, changes need to be made to get payments to producers in the short term, versus waiting until 2008 or later. The other immediate option may also be a short term cash injection which would be repaid once the markets rebound," concludes Fuglerud. "We are not looking for handouts," says Susan Echlin, General Manager of SCFA. "We do have producers,however, who need some assistance to weather this perfect storm of issues or they won't survive."

The beef and pork industries are comprised of dedicated producers who are familiar with facing a number of challenges. However, the current market and other government policies have placed the pork and beef industries in a compromising position. Although they recognize changes need to be implemented to compete in the new reality, short term and immediate assistance is paramount.

Not only is this current challenge immediate and significant in Saskatchewan, it is occurring on a national basis and therefore, the federal and provincial government need to work together to address this issue.

The three Associations will be requesting a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz along with the soon to be announced Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Minister in the very near future.