09/17/2012 11:22 EDT | Updated 11/17/2012 05:12 EST

Manitoba pork producers seek $130 million to deal with financial crisis

WINNIPEG - A Manitoba farm group is calling for $130 million in government loan guarantees to help producers deal with what it calls the worst crisis in the history of Canada's pork industry.

Keystone Agricultural Producers said a combination of high feed costs and low prices is forcing producers out of business.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Monday he has asked officials to explore all assistance options under current programs.

"Our government has a full suite of programs to help the pork industry and we've set up a Hog Industry Task Team to monitor the current situation," he said.

Keystone President Doug Chorney said the situation is so bad that farmers are selling off their breeding animals because they can't afford to feed them.

He said the recent decision by Puratone, one of Manitoba's largest hog producers to seek creditor protection, is not an isolated incident.

Chorney warned that family farms will be lost and hundreds of people could lose their jobs in related industries unless Ottawa and the province intervene immediately.

He said pork producers in other provinces are facing the same financial distress.