The province's pork industry gathered in Winnipeg Thursday for Manitoba Pork's Annual General Meeting.

Chair George Matheson says by the end of 2017, Manitoba produced close to eight million pigs, with five million market hogs and close to three million weanlings exported.

Matheson talked about some of the key issues that the organization will focus on this upcoming year.

"Because we had the PED outbreak last year, we're going to continue to focus on making those affected barns negative and also increasing our focus on biosecurity," he said.

george matheson small agm 2018Manitoba Pork Chair George Matheson

One of the measures being addressed, according to Matheson, would be the reinstatement of the Trusted Transporter Program, which would allow trucks to fully wash in Canada after sealing the trailer at the U.S. border.

Matheson praised the recent HyLife expansion in Neepawa, noting the company can now handle two million hogs per year. He noted Maple Leaf still needs more pigs, adding the company could handle about 4.5 million per year, but is only receiving about 3 million.

Another highlight from the past year was the passage of Bill 24, which loosened some of the government red tape surrounding new hog barn construction.

"No longer having to have anaerobic digesters when one builds new or adds on to an existing facility. We're still looking for an increase in the conditional use hearing threshold, hoping to go from a 2,000 feeder space barn to a 4,000 space before a conditional use hearing is needed," said Matheson.

He noted pork prices have slid lately, although he's hoping to see that turn around in the near future.

The trade dispute between China and U.S. also concerned Matheson, however he said deals such as the TPP, CETA, and NAFTA will provide some reassurance moving forward.

There was a good turn out at the meeting, with over 50 per cent of North America pork production being represented.

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