The second-largest hog producer in Canada has asked for protection from creditors.

Big Sky Farms of Humboldt, Saskatchewan says it has applied for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

The Canadian company blames the downturn in the North American pork market, but also cites the rising value of the Canadian dollar, the H1N1 flu pandemic and American trade barriers.

“While today’s (Nov. 10) actions are difficult, they will, in the long term, serve the varied interests of our many stakeholders, including our dedicated employees, by making the company healthier overall,” says President and CEO Casey Smit.

The company says it operates about 40 hog facilities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, employing more than 400 people.

Big Sky will operate as usual while it is under court-ordered protection and all employees will be retained, Smit says.

He also reports the company will be reorganizing so it can access federal government loan programs.

The changes at Big Sky may also impact taxpayers in Saskatchewan. The province has invested $30 million in the company and owns a 63% share.