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Is Europe’s Pig Sector Heading for Economic Catastrophe?

03 September 2014

EU - The French meat processing sector has launched a fierce attack against the European Commission for doing nothing to support the pig sector during the present ban on exports to Russia.

The French meat industry organisation SNIV SNCP said the European Commissioner had announced support for the fruit and vegetable sectors and the dairy products sector last week, but had ignored the meat sector.

In an angry statement issued last week, the union of French meat companies said the European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos had said the pig and meat sectors “are not affected by the crisis with Russia”.

However, the meat union said that the commissioner had ignored the fact that exports of pig meat to Russia reach 750,000 tonnes a year or 20 per cent of the total European pig meat exports.

France’s proportion of these exports is 75,000 tonnes worth €150 million.

The meat union said that the volumes that are not exported then weigh heavily on the domestic market impacting prices and in the last six months since the Russian ban was put in place, the price of pork has fallen 15 cents per kg – a loss of €15 per pig to each French farm or a total of €150 million to French farmers.

The meat union said the effect is mirrored in the slaughter industry where losses in France so far have reached €80 million because of the ban.

SNIV SNCP said that it and INAPORC could provide further evidence to the European Agriculture Commissioner about the heavy losses that are being incurred by the sector.

The organisation said that over the whole of 2014, the losses could reach €500 million for France and €5 billion for the whole of Europe.

French agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll is expected to bring together representatives of the agricultural unions in France and other interested parties this week in preparation for an extraordinary meeting of agriculture minister on Friday in Brussels to discuss the ban.

SNIV-SNCP said: “There is urgent need to act if we are to avoid an economic catastrophe.”

The impact of the Russian ban is being felt across the European Union, with Polish farmers taking to the streets in protest last week following protests by Spanish farmers.

The secretary-general of the European agricultural union, Copa Cogeca, Pekka Pesonen warned: “Additional aid is needed to prevent the market spiralling out of control, causing further damage to the economy.”

He added: “In addition, the EU pig meat sector has being suffering for months from the ban and action must be taken to improve the situation.”

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

Top image via Shutterstock

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