Farmers need your help to protect Canada's food supply

An open letter to Canadian Consumers:

Dear Canadian Consumer,

As a pork producer, you are my most important partner. Because of your support, my fellow farmers across Canada and I have the tremendous opportunity to wake up every day and work in the business we love.

Taking care of animals and feeding you are what drives us to invest our money and ourselves into raising pigs and farming. That is why, every day, regardless of what the world throws at us, we get up and get to work. Farmers can face a host of challenges on a daily basis, but we always show up.

I want to reassure you that Canada’s pork is safe. Over and over again science has confirmed that COVID-19 cannot be spread through the food supply. Rest assured that you can continue to safely enjoy Canadian pork whether it be bacon for breakfast, ham slices for lunch or a roast for dinner.

While Canada’s pork is safe, COVID-19 has put Canada’s pork supply and food security at risk. COVID-19 is causing a major disruption in the lives of farmers and we can no longer be confident that we will be able to continue to deliver the pork you enjoy.

The disruption is being driven by a collapse in pork prices. While we saw the prices we get for our animals spike as you and your fellow consumers stocked up on essentials early in March, they have fallen, and fallen far and fast. Farmers now expect to lose between $30 and $50 per pig for every animal we sell in 2020 and the losses will likely continue into 2021.

While some farmers can manage these losses, most cannot. We believe that if little is done to help the people producing our food, our Canadian food security will be greatly affected.

Governments offer some programs meant to help farmers, but they are not designed to deal with the fallout of a global pandemic and are not well suited to the reality of pork producers. While the extraordinary measures announced by governments have offered help for businesses across the country, they do little for a business like pork production.

Now our commitment to you, and to our country, is to continue to do everything we can to keep pork on the shelves, but it is becoming harder to do given the significant pressure we are under.

We have heard from governments that protecting the food supply is a priority, but they have done little to offer concrete support to Canadian pork producers. To deliver on their commitment governments must step up in this moment of need and directly support pork producers in a meaningful way.

Farmers have been telling the government about the need to act for weeks, but it hasn’t been enough to get governments to get meaningful help to the producers that need it today. That is why farmers need your help. We need you to tell the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Senators that now is the time to be serious about protecting our food supply by helping farmers. We need you to tell them that governments must act quickly to put in place the meaningful emergency programs that farmers need so we can stay in business.

Without meaningful emergency support, farmers risk being another casualty in the pandemic. Canada must protect its food supply, its farm families, and its rural communities so they can bounce back after this crisis.

Canadians have come together and stayed apart to flatten the curve and limit the impact of COVID-19. Now we need to come together and raise our voices to limit the impact on those on the front lines of Canada’s food supply.


Rick Bergmann,
Pork producer


Picture by Ken Gigliotti - Winnipeg Free Press