17 May 2000
Canadians head-hunt British farmers

BRITISH pig farmers who have seen their industry decline in recent years are being headhunted to work in the buoyant Canadian pig sector.

The province of Manitoba wants to increase pig production form 4.7m to 10m, and wants the expertise of the British pig industry to help.

Bob Ward of the Manitoba department of agriculture and food said he had been impressed with the expertise of British stockmen and pig farmers

While the scale of operation is larger in Canada, and pigs were raised inside barns, Mr Ward said the type of production was by and large similar.

Increased processing capacity, together with a large land base, and identified markets in the US and Asia make conditions right for expansion in Manitoba.

Mr Ward the BBCs Farming Today programme there would be a window of opportunity for three or four years for farmers tempted to cross the Atlantic.

The National Farmers Union believes 24,000 jobs have been lost in the British industry in the past two years.

This is attributed to knock-on effects of the BSE crisis, the costs of humane animal rearing and the strong pound.