North Dakota pork producers are applauding word that packing plant capacity is set to expand in western Canada.

Maple Leaf Foods is scheduled to begin the construction of a $110-million hog slaughtering plant late next year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The new plant will be able to process 20,000 hogs/week on a single shift, with the potential of adding a second shift. Effectively doubling the capacity. The facility will replace the company’s 65-year-old Mitchell’s Gourmet Foods plant, which at full capacity slaughters about 17,000 hogs/week.

The announcement is good news for pork producers on both sides of the border, says Dawn Jarolimek, North Dakota Pork Producers president.

Many producers, not just in North Dakota, have a great deal of interest in shipping hogs to Canadian processing plants because they live closer to Canadian plants than they do U.S. plants, she says.

Also, it will possibly free up some slaughter capacity in the United States and make hogs worth more in the United States, speculates Jarolimek.