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Quebec pork farmers reeling as a 'perfect storm' creates economic crisis

Over the last two years, François Nadeau has chosen to do something rare among his fellow Quebec pork farmers: invest in the future.

Despite economic conditions that industry leaders have called a crisis, Nadeau and his wife and co-owner of their business, Julie Bogemans, went ahead with a new building to house some of their 1,200 sows.

It features high-tech feeding and cooling systems and bigger, open pens to replace many of the crates and cages that used to keep the animals confined.

In an interview at his farm in Saint-Sebastien, a rural community about 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, Nadeau explained that the changes were made in part to ensure the farm complies with new federal animal welfare rules that come into force in 2029.


"Despite everything that's happening, we're among those who still believe in (pig farming), despite the difficulties," he said.

In the current economic climate, leaving pork production altogether seems to be the more popular option.

Recently, more than 20 per cent of producers in the province applied for a program to compensate farmers who severely reduce their herds or quit — a number that has shocked even industry leaders who are well aware of how tough things have become.

"It worries us enormously," said Louis-Philippe Roy, president of a group representing pork producers in Quebec, who account for about 31 per cent of Canadian production.

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