On Feb. 9, 2008, I visited a local hog farm in Centre Hastings , one of the biggest in Hastings County. The Farrells have 200 sows and rear over 4,000 pigs a year. They are a land-based operation which means they grow most of the food the pigs eat, corn and soya beans. Doug Farrell has been farming for a long time. As his son Kevin says, he has been picking stones for 45 years and would now like to slow down. Unfortunately, there is so little money to be made in hogs. His son can’t buy him out so he can’t retire.
Kevin Farrell said in the past one was only competing with one’s neighbours. If one farmed a bit better one could be successful. Now one is competing globally. Brazil has huge hog production factories and the US can run packing plants more cheaply than Canada. The Farrells once had a year long contract with the packers they use in Quebec, now they don’t even have a monthly contract. Some reports say Ontario hog farmers are losing $50 per pig. Cost of fuel goes up, the cost of machinery goes up and vets’ bill rise. As Kevin Farrell’s grandfather said “One farms until one runs out of money.”
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