Russians soften stance – Dodds

Diane Dodds
Diane Dodds

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has reacted to speculation that negotiations are underway between the European Commission and authorities in Russia aimed at helping EU exports of pig-meat back onto the Russian market.

Commenting, Diane Dodds said: “It has been widely reported that the European Commission is working toward an agreement that would ensure the export of pig-meat back in to the Russian market.

“There is speculation that Russian authorities have shown some flexibility in relation to these exports, however the outworking has yet to be seen. This move has been welcomed across the industry, with some commentators suggesting that it could restore up to 40% of what was previously being exported.

“The ban on pork products from the EU was put in place last January as a result of outbreaks of African Swine Fever in the Baltic countries and Poland. It caused major disruption and losses for the pig sector right across Europe. I think the impact on the pork sector had been underestimated given that a quarter of all exports in 2013 had been destined for the Russian market. It has affected some eleven member states and caused the price of pork to fall. The displacement effect has also led to additional supply and demand pressures.

“Producers in Northern Ireland are also feeling the pain of these price decreases – on top of a continuing variation of prices between here and Great Britain. The price differential has been quoted at some 15-18p/kg, which is unacceptable. I cannot see a reason for such a wide gap, particularly given that the pigs we produce are of the same high quality and reach the requirements of the Red Tractor scheme. However, this isn’t something new. It is an issue that has been debated on numerous occasions in the red meat sector,” added Mrs Dodds.

“I can emphasise fully with the farming community, because at a European level, and at Westminster, few appear willing to actually grasp the issue of unfair practices and power within supply chain. We should be in no doubt that this leads to a situation in which farmers are price takers. The new EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, has stated his desire to tackle these issues, with the potential of new legislation. Throughout this process, I will be making the case for farmers to ensure we get the best deal possible.”