For the first time in six years, the number of breeding sows in Canada seems to have stayed level over the past 12 months rather than decreasing, according to Statistics Canada estimates for the Canadian pig breeding inventory as of October 1, 2011.

The numbers put the national herd at 1.29 million sows, virtually the same as in October 2010. There was a modest 0.9% increase in the total on-farm inventory of all pigs, at 12 million. But this still means that 2010 and 2011 have given the smallest October totals for more than 10 years.

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A particular concern for Canadian pork producers remains the approximate 5% price advantage held by the U.S. in export markets due to currency exchange rates. Industry leaders in Canada have expressed the fear that Canadian exports of pork will be hit hard, especially by the new trade agreement announced in October between the U.S. and South Korea, which is thought likely to result in Korean importers choosing U.S. meat over Canadian supplies.