Pig industry is in crisis - warning

A number of pig farmers have contacted Farming Life over recent days, confirming their absolute desperation at the current plight of their industry.
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All are demanding the introduction of a support scheme for their sector, similar to that agreed in Dublin for the Irish pig industry last week.

Producers have claimed that they are currently losing up to £15,000 per month. This figure is based on the turnover generated by a 100-sow birth to bacon unit.

Farmers are also calling for all stakeholders within the sector for a root and branch review of its entire business model. They want to see a co-ordinated production, processing and marketing model put in place, one which would deliver a realistic margin at farm level.

Pigs on Norman Robson's farm, Doagh. Picture: Cliff DonaldsonPigs on Norman Robson's farm, Doagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Pigs on Norman Robson's farm, Doagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The pig support scheme announced by Ireland’s farm minister Charlie McConalogue is already operating.

The available fund of €7 million will be distributed through a flat rate payment of a maximum of €20,000 per individual commercial pig farmer sending more than 200 pigs per annum to slaughter.

Commenting on these developments, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Victor Chestnutt said: “The pig sector in Northern Ireland is under immense pressure and it has been building for quite some time now. Many of our pig farmers are at breaking point. Urgent support is needed as they are struggling to keep up with extremely high input costs while getting little to nothing in return due to low pig meat prices.
“We have been constantly engaging with DAERA over the last number of months.  Representatives from the UFU pork and bacon committee and myself, have met Minister Poots on various occasions to discuss support for the sector.

“Minister Poots was sympathetic towards the plight of the sector however, immediate action is needed to alleviate the stresses on Northern Ireland’s pig farms.

The UFU hopes that DAERA will be able to deliver positive news regarding assistance in the near future.”

A spokesperson for DAERA said: “Minister Poots has met with stakeholders and representatives of the pig sector on a number of occasions to discuss the issues and challenges facing local pig producers. We have discussed with industry and are at advanced stage of drafting proposals.” 

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