Hog Producers from Finland Marvel at US Production Methods

A delegation of Finnish pork producers is in the United States learning about the U.S. swine industry. After stops at the Chicago Board of Trade and a series of hog farms – the group visited the National Pork Board offices. Janne Toikka who produces 11-thousand market hogs per year – says Finland has strict environmental and animal welfare regulations. As an example – tail docking is not allowed…

“Because of the tails, we have to keep toys for the pigs. Its regulated that 24/7 there is something for them to do, because the tails hang out and it makes sure they don’t bite them.”

In 1995 – Finland joined the European Union. At that time – Finland had 10-thousand pork producers. Today there are less than two-thousand producers. High feed prices and a stringent regulatory environment are blamed for that decline. Finland’s climate is similar to Alaska – which also adds to the cost of housing…

“You might have 200 Euros for one pig place, in Finland it might cost 600. The walls are thicker and we need more heating, so it is more expensive to produce pigs in Finland.”

Paula Kurikka-Oja’s swine operation is a gilt-multiplier with a one-time capacity of three-thousand head. Due to the financial situation in the EU – Kurikka says access to capital is an issue…

“One problem that we have, Finland is in a difficult financial situation. The banks wont give loans to do the things the government is requiring.”

Kurikka describes her U.S. experience as“eye-opening. The Finnish delegation will return home this week.

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