‘China visit must be accompanied by progress’

editorial image

Ulster Unionist Agriculture Spokesperson, Harold McKee MLA, has said that the full opportunity of the upcoming Ministerial visit to China must be grasped in order to make actual progress on the export of pork products to the country.

Mr McKee said: “During this week’s meeting of the Agriculture Committee at Stormont I learned that the DAERA Minister will shortly be travelling to China. It is now absolutely essential that the export of so-called fifth quarter pig parts – such as ears and trotters – to the country are progressed with a final agreement reached.

“Anger is unsurprisingly growing amongst local pig farmers. Whilst little obvious progress is being made in Northern Ireland, China has been paying up to £5 per pig to producers in England, Scotland, Wales and ROI with another £5 to the processor. Not only are we failing to maximise this new market, but local pig producers are simply discarding these parts as waste products.

“Given that there are 21,000 pigs slaughtered every week here, if a final deal could be reached it would result in an additional £210,000 per week as opposed to a cost to the producer, processor and environment in disposing of the fifth quarter. That’s good money which should be going into the pockets of local farmers and producers, not the bin.”