In the past, Canadian pork producers have not been faced with as many environmental and political challenges as their U.S. counterparts. That worm may be turning.

The province of Quebec, which is Canada’s largest pork-producing province, has imposed a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for new hog barns and hog barn expansion through June 15, 2002. In the meantime, a special committee has been charged with the task of developing an “action plan” to bring in new environmental rules for hog barns.

Free from moratoriums and many political pressures in the past, Canada’s pork production has increased each year since 1997. It’s still too early to tell what effect the moratorium could have, and whether other provinces will follow. One outcome could be that Canadian producers may not be allowed to continue to grow production at their past rates. Canada began expanding production aggressively in 1997. This year’s growth projections are for an 8 percent to 10 percent increase from 2001 levels.

That fact, coupled with continued efforts of U.S. and Canadian producers and government officials to work together, may help reduce the risk of exceeding slaughter capacity in the future. Unfortunately, this will all come too late for this year, when hog-slaughter capacity could be pressured for several weeks during the fourth quarter—largely because of increased live-hog exports into the United States from Canada.