Yesterday, I listed my top three agricultural stories of 2009 – the crop that defied the weather, the drop in grain prices and the trade barriers erected on flax and canola. Number four on the list is the continuing difficulties in the beef sector. Rather than three major beef packers in Canada, we now have only two – XL Foods and Cargill. The XL plant in Moose Jaw remains closed. Beef producers feel trapped. Marketing options are limited and no one is making money. Canadian beef has long enjoyed preferential access to the American market, but the rules of the game have changed due to the high value of the Canadian dollar combined with the American imposition of COOL – country-of-origin labeling. More analysts are questioning the long-term sustainability of the Canadian beef sector. That questioning is going on in pork too. That’s number five on the list. In addition to COOL, the pork industry was hurt by H1N1, inappropriately labeled swine flu. Saskatchewan hog production has been absolutely decimated in recent years and ’09 saw the highest profile failure of all. Big Sky Farms, the province’s largest hog production company filed for creditor protection. With the Saskatchewan government owning the majority of Big Sky shares, it will be particularly interesting to see this situation play out in the year ahead. I’m Kevin Hursh.