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Pork industry: Try pork on your fork

From back bacon to smoked ham, Canada exports over $2 billion of pork, making us one of the world's top exporters. But what's good for the economy hasn't been good to the environment. The problem is manure. Canada's 15 million pigs produce enough waste to fill Toronto's SkyDome every 22 days. It's a festering problem that has residents, farmers, environmentalists, government officials and members of the pork industry up in arms.

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Cooking demonstrations for stuffed pork and recipes for tender pork stew are all part of Manitoba's campaign to promote pork. At home and abroad, demand for the meat is growing and Manitoba wants a piece of the action. The government's message that pork is a cheap and healthy alternative seems to be working. At this 1980 convention, folks admit to buying more pork. "I enjoy pork very, very much," one woman tells CBC TV. "It's tasty and it's less expensive."

Hog farmers, such as John Loewen of Blumenort, Man., are banking on the four-legged beasts as well. Factory hog barns are quickly replacing traditional family farms. In this footage, Loewen talks about the efficiency of his operation. He explains how mechanized manure handling and automated feedings are keeping costs down and production high. It's all good news to Manitoba's hog industry, which is hoping to gain control of an enterprise that's been dominated by Quebec and Ontario.
• Pig farming has transformed in the past 20 years from an industry dominated by relatively small producers to one dominated by large facilities. Massive hog barns or intensive livestock operations refer to facilities that have large number of animals in confined spaces. These hog barns house up to 5,000 pigs in one building.

• Provincial governments have aggressively encouraged factory pig farms because unlike other types of agriculture the industry doesn't require government subsidies to survive. It's reliable and efficient. Most pigs are raised exclusively indoors so it's considered low-risk agriculture - safe from Canada's unpredictable weather.

• When it comes to hogs, Quebec leads the charge with 4.3 million, followed by Ontario with 3.7 million, Manitoba with 2.9 million, Alberta with 2 million and Saskatchewan with 1.3 million. (Statistics Canada 2004)
• According to the Quarterly Pork Report published by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada the total export of pork product was valued at $2.2 billion for 2001.

• Per-capita pork consumption in Canada has been steady for years but international demand has been increasing. Canada exports approximately 24 per cent of the world's pork, a figure surpassed only by the European Union. Canada exports 49 per cent of its pork to the United States, 21 per cent to Japan, six per cent to Mexico and four per cent each to China, Hong Kong and Australia. (Statistics Canada 2004)

• The average Canadian ate 28 kilograms of pork in 2002, according to Statistics Canada.
• Pork, which in Canada refers to all pig products such as ham and bacon, is the world's most widely consumed meat. According to the USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service, pork represents about 41 per cent of all meat consumed.
• According to the Canada Pork Council, the terms pig, swine and hog are used interchangeably.
Medium: Television
Guest(s): Dave Adams, Clayton Gilson, John Loewen, Bill Munro
Reporter: Sheila Baptie
Duration: 9:32

Last updated: September 3, 2014

Page consulted on September 3, 2014

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