Winter 2021 – Editorial

Message from the editor

By Andrew Heck

The Winter 2021 edition of the Canadian Hog Journal is here!

Last year, with the latest Winter edition hot off the press, I was headed to the Banff Pork Seminar, eager to share the magazine with guests. This year, I will have to settle for sharing the PDF virtually and changing my laptop computer background to an alpine scene. Not quite the same, but it will have to do. And I can still have my pint of beer at home while listening to Irish jig music, right?

The issue of delayed Canadian Pork Excellence (CPE) program implementation persists, and this edition features the third article on the subject in as many years. Consider that a ‘hat trick,’ if you will, as we wait on the next NHL season to start.

Feeding human food scraps to pigs is an age-old practice for some small-scale producers, but is it an effective or safe solution to eliminating food waste? While pig production volume heavily favours the commercial industry, it takes only one disease slip-up to potentially shake the entire sector to its core and jeopardize consumer confidence, which disproportionately affects commercial producers.

Manitoba Pork’s long-time general manager, Andrew Dickson, is retiring. Likewise, long-time communications coordinator, Sandy Ellis, has also left the organization. Her replacement, Joey Dearborn, has written a thoughtful career-in-review piece about Dickson, included here.

As with visiting Banff, I was looking forward to travelling to Quebec City again this year to attend the Porc Show, but that too will have to wait. While the conference was unavailable in-person, the organizers did a nice job of hosting the event over Zoom, as you will see from the coverage.

This edition also includes many interesting news pieces, along with expert commentary on the growth of grocery e-commerce, in addition to a look at the last decade of Swine Innovation Porc (SIP), as well as research on water consumption under stress and the benefits of feeding trace performance minerals, along with a callout for producers to support an environmental footprint study.

Heading into 2021, the past year of mostly negative developments in the Canadian pork industry should, hopefully, help us see the potential positives going forward. I remain grateful to continue advocating for this sector, as I anticipate the birth of my second child — another daughter. The older one is not quite three-years-old, but she already has her mother’s smarts and good looks, along with her father’s way with words and habit of asking too many questions – a dangerous but exciting combination.

Whatever this year holds for us all, you may like to buckle up, grit your teeth and hold on! I will be doing likewise. Our saving grace? If industry players and publications continue promoting the right kind of content to influence decisions that benefit our sector, our odds of collective success might be better than we even know. Let me know what you think by emailing I want to share your views in the next ‘Letters to the editor’ section. Diverse perspectives equal higher-quality, thought-provoking conversations, which is what we should all being aiming for.

Letters to the editor

In reply to ‘Price negotiating power balance hurts producers’ (Fall 2020)

“During Alberta Pork’s recent annual general meeting (AGM), I put forth a resolution requesting producer support for the Alberta Pork board of directors to explore new hog marketing options, including the potential for a system like single desk selling, using Quebec’s marketing arrangement as a possible example. Producers voted to approve the resolution.

“The whole idea is to get more negotiating power, and I believe that is a necessary step to take. If we leave it up to producers to pursue voluntarily, it is much less likely to work. If we look at formalizing such a system, it may be more binding and successful.

“The reason I think Alberta Pork should be the producers’ marketing representative under this kind of system is practical: for the concept to work, legislation will need to be modified, which requires partners that are recognized by government. I have confidence that the Alberta Pork board of directors includes the right people and motives to represent producers in this regard.

“It is not every day we have an opportunity to inspire real change within our industry. I really hope all producers take this seriously and truly hold themselves accountable and help push things in the right direction.” Nathan Stahl, Stettler, Alberta

In reply to the cover of the Canadian Hog Journal (Fall 2020)

The cover image used on the Fall 2020 edition of the Canadian Hog Journal has received some positive attention from readers, including the Canadian Pork Council (CPC), which has framed and hanged the cover at the organization’s office in Ottawa.

The image itself was staged and captured in the kitchen of editor Andrew Heck, featuring a homemade Canadian pork and beef tourtière, along with a CPC-branded ceramic mug and other fall-themed decorations.

The cover and total magazine layout are the responsibility of Michael Poulin, a graphic designer with Capital Colour of Edmonton, the company that prints and distributes the magazine.