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The role of cooperatives in pork production and the fight against climate change

Born in a spirit of mutual assistance, Sollio Cooperative Group was founded by a group of people and agricultural cooperatives that worked together and shared the goods and services they needed. More than ever, concern for community is one of the principles that guide our actions.

The Quebec pork network, the province’s second largest agricultural sector, is facing the worst economic climate in its history. Recent decisions were hard to make, in particular within our Olymel division, and very difficult for employees and farmers to digest.

Processors have to try to come out ahead in a market where there is overproduction on a global scale and where pork prices have not kept pace with inflation like other, similar commodities. For their part, farmers are having trouble making ends meet with the rise in price of a number of inputs. Add to that rising interest rates that have hit those who invested in modernizing their facilities, namely to improve animal welfare, especially hard. Following serious reflection, important decisions will have to be made in the coming months to ensure a promising future in the next few years.

Our mission at Sollio Cooperative Group is to support all cooperative member farmers. We continue to assist independent pork producers in our cooperative pork network to help them get through these turbulent times. Our goals have always been to offer quality pork products at competitive prices to customers here and around the world, and to generate wealth for all the links in the chain. 

This economic activity is key to the prosperity of our regions. The support of the federal and provincial governments is also absolutely necessary to allow the network to get through this unprecedented crisis.

Fighting and adapting to climate change

The prosperity of our regions is also dependent on global warming, which, in the future, will result in longer, dryer summers and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

The forest fires that are devastating much of our land are a clear demonstration of this. Towns, villages, companies, farms, buildings and animals are all threatened. These destructive fires have persistent impacts on all the communities affected, endlessly postponing a return to normal life and operations.

We take these issues very seriously, and they are the subject of ongoing concerns. A century ago, agricultural cooperatives were created to offer farmers collective tools to ensure their prosperity and address the issues at the time. Today, we also have to take a collective approach to fighting climate change in an effort to pursue our mission: feed the planet in a healthy and sustainable way.

Agriculture is both affected by climate change and capable of finding solutions to it. These changes present three major challenges to our agriculture, and each one involves its share of risks, as well as opportunities: the challenge of adaptation, the challenge of mitigation and the challenge of global food security. Sollio Cooperative Group plans to play a leading role in supporting our agriculture through these challenges. 

Our corporate and cooperative responsibility process is fulfilled in particular through the continuous improvement of our environmental performances. In 2022, we conducted a greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption assessment for each of our divisions, namely Sollio Agriculture, BMR Group and Olymel, to create concrete targets for reducing our ecological footprint.

July 1th was International Cooperatives Day, recognized by the United Nations, which is perfectly fitting. This annual celebration recognizes the significant contribution that cooperatives have made to the global economy and their role in building a more sustainable future. I strongly believe in this collective force driven by passion, pride, commitment and altruism.

On that note, I wish you all a good summer.

Richard Ferland - président