The Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development received a briefing from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) at this week’s meeting on the growing pig price differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and the financial strain this is placing on local pig farmers.
Speaking after the UFU briefing, committee chairperson William Irwin MLA said: “My committee has been aware for some time that the wider EU pig meat market including Northern Ireland and GB, has been experiencing significant price decreases.
“However, we were concerned to learn today that the impact here has been much greater, with local pig farmers seeing an average return of just £1.25 per kg in comparison to the £1.43 per kg GB farmers receive for their pigs.
“There can be no justification for this price gap, particularly as pig farmers here are required to and indeed do meet the same high standards as their counterparts in GB. They should therefore be entitled to expect a fair and equitable return for their product.
“The UFU also highlighted its concern about the lack of information coming from local pig meat processors about the growing price disparity.
“We would echo the UFU’s call for the processing industry to provide greater clarity and transparency in relation to its pricing structures and the differential in production and processor returns.”
Committee deputy chairperson Joe Byrne MLA added: “An additional concern is the fact that our pig producers are paying between £20 and £25 per tonne more for feed than producers in GB, resulting in significant overheads that can only result in a further reduction in profit margins.
“The local pig industry is an important component of our agricultural landscape and these current difficulties cannot be overlooked.
“We intend to communicate directly with the Minister and her Department to seek viable solutions and to ensure that we continue to protect and support the livelihoods of local producers and the future of the pig industry here.”