The flow of feeder pigs from Canada continues to slow in reaction to MCOOL legislation and the terrible economics of pig production for many Canadian producers this past year. For the week ending October 12, 2013, 61,330 live pigs weighing less than 55 kg (110 lb) crossed the border from the Canada to the US. This is the lowest number of feeder pigs to cross since February of 2002 for any non-holiday week.
Iowa remains the primary destination for these pigs with Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois the next most popular destinations. At one point in time there were quite a few pigs ending up in facilities in North and South Dakota. However these states are declining in placement of Canadian born pigs, most likely a reflection of MCOOL labeling requirements at the John Morrell plant in Sioux Falls which would be the most likely destination for many of these pigs. High feed grain prices as a result of the drought also discouraged producers in these states from feeding out feeder pigs regardless of origin.
In 2008 the Dakotas were the destination for 5000 Canadian feeder pigs per week. In 2009 this declined to 3600 pigs per week and it went to 2000 pigs per week in 2010. Since 2011 these states have only averaged about 1750 pigs per week. Given the reduced transport expense from Manitoba versus pigs sent to Iowa or many Southern Minnesota sites the reduction in demand is not a function of price paid relative to other regions.
So far this year there have been 7,168 slaughter barrows and gilts imported from Canada on a weekly basis. This is down from the 8,064 weekly average in 2012 but still represents almost 1 8-hour kill shift at a major slaughter plant each week. With the implementation of new country of origin labeling requirements by the USDA in response to the World Court ruling will this number decrease even more? If the cattle industry is a guide the answer is yes as one major packer announced this week that beginning next week they will no longer slaughter cattle grown to slaughter in Canada and transported to the US for slaughter because of the new regulations.
The number of slaughter sows and boars crossing weekly has been around 8,800 per week for the past 3 years. MCOOL regulations have little impact on this slaughter number as the vast majority of the slaughter product is further processed (think sausage and pepperoni) making the product exempt from MCOOL labeling requirements.