Pig crisis: Producers protest as losses reach €37/pig

Farmers say they are “almost begging” processors to take their stock
Pig crisis: Producers protest as losses reach €37/pig

Farmers are losing €37.84 per pig due to the price drop, combined with an unprecedented increase in feed prices.

A further 4c drop in pig prices means farmers are losing over €37 on every pig produced.

Pig producers demonstrated outside major supermarkets in Tallaght, Dublin, on Monday (January 17) to highlight the crisis the sector is enduring. Those in attendance called on retailers to support Bord Bia’s Quality Assured pigmeat.

IFA pig chairman, Roy Gallie, said the situation was “completely unsustainable”.

“Retailers will not have a supply of Irish pigmeat in the not-too-distant future unless pig farmers secure some sort of immediate price increase,” he said.

Pig farmers that produce Bord Bia Quality Assured pigmeat have seen their costs of production increase at an unprecedented rate in the past year.

“Over the last 12 months, we have seen our margin completely disappear, due to a combination of a massive increase in input costs, in particular feed, and falling output prices. As a result, the average Irish pig farmer is losing about €10,000 a week at the moment,” he said.

With further feed-price increases of €35/ton at the beginning of the month, all input costs soaring, and pig price following a separate trend, pig farmers are now haemorrhaging losses of almost €53,000 for January, according to Teagasc, which translates to €37.84 per pig.

However, the situation doesn’t appear to be getting any better in the short-term, with prices for this week remaining unchanged, with quotes of €1.44-€1.50/kg reported.

Farmers told the Irish Examiner that even at these prices, they were “almost begging” processors to take their stock.

The latest factory throughput in the Republic of Ireland export plants was 71,126 head — 15,013 more than the week before and 251 less than in the same week in 2021.

Irish Farmers Association president Tim Cullinan said farmers are very concerned about their future.

“We need all stakeholders, including retailers, Bord Bia, and our minister to take immediate steps to stem the losses on pig farms,” he said.

Brexit and Covid-related issues have had a severe impact on the pig sector. Since Brexit, the value of pigmeat exports to the United Kingdom has collapsed. Covid-19 has also impacted on processing and supply chain, further exacerbating market issues.

“Pig farmers are suffering and cannot sustain the current losses for much longer. Without a co-ordinated response from all the relevant stakeholders, the entire sector is in jeopardy,” Mr Cullinan said.

The association also met this week with Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue

“The minister and his officials acknowledged the scale of the problem and the serious consequences for pig farmers,” Mr Gallie said.

“A round-table meeting of stakeholders is due to take place next week, chaired by Minister Heydon. The Department needs to come forward to this meeting next week with tangible measures to ease the crisis,” he said.

“Based on Teagasc data, farmers are losing €37.84 per pig due to the price drop, combined with an unprecedented increase in feed prices. They need an immediate solution.”

On the European market, pig prices have remained largely unchanged. However, Danish pig prices have fallen by 3.6%, at 60% carcass, Italy’s pig price has fallen too since the beginning of the year, which is largely due to African swine fever.

Ireland’s percentage of the EU price has improved and is currently 108% of the EU average price for the second week of January.

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