* Banks not seen lending to money-losing industry
* High feed costs from drought causing losses
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Money-losing hog farmers in Manitoba, hurt by high feed costs, need between C$130 million and C$150 million ($134 million-$155 million) in government loan guarantees to survive, the Western Canadian province’s biggest farm group said on Monday.
Severe drought in the United States has decimated crops, which has led to higher costs for feed grains and pushed North American hog farmers into steep losses.
Manitoba is Canada’s third-largest hog-producing province, after Quebec and Ontario.
Canada’s second-biggest hog farm operation, Big Sky Farms, in Saskatchewan entered receivership last week and another major hog farmer, Manitoba-based Puratone, received protection from creditors on Wednesday.
Banks have stopped lending money to hog farmers large and small, leaving them hard-pressed to survive until they see more favorable market conditions, possibly next spring, said Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, an organization that promotes the interests of the provinces’ farmers.
“We are on the verge of not just having a downturn here - this is an industry-killing experience that we’re going through,” Chorney told Reuters.
It costs C$170 to raise a pig for sale, but farmers are currently collecting no more than C$150 per hog, Chorney said.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Friday that he would meet with farm lenders this week to assure them the hog industry has a bright future.
Chorney said the Manitoba Pork Council, which represents the province’s hog farmers, intends to meet soon with the province’s agriculture minister, Ron Kostyshyn.
Spokespersons for Kostyshyn and Ritz could not be immediately reached for comment.