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Crisis Aid Extended for French Pig Producers

by 5m Editor
30 January 2008, at 10:51am

FRANCE - In a year of strong demand and weak prices, total French pig slaughter numbers rose by 1.3 per cent during 2007 to 25.3 million head. French farm minister Michel Barnier last week added a further €6 million to a €33 million emergency package he announced at the end of last year. The government is funding crisis loans and help with interest payments for pig farmers.

Like their European counterparts, French pig producers have been struggling with spiralling grain costs, which last summer accounted for two thirds of the production price of a kilo of pigmeat. There were July and October peaks in the culling of breeding animals, but at 471,362 there were fewer breeding animals culled in 2007 than the two previous years.

As cereal prices soared over the summer, so too did the number of piglets slaughtered. Conceived before barley prices went into overdrive, from July to October piglet slaughter numbers soared at times at levels 20 per cent and more year-on-year above 2006 levels, at slaughter weights around 9kg - up to 2kg lighter than comparable 2006 averages.

Over the calendar year, total piglet slaughterings rose by just over 12 per cent to 319,790. It is too early yet for the statistics to pick up the downstream results in finished pig numbers. Last year's production was very even and measured, around two million 80kg charcuterie pigs every month, making an annual total of 24,55 million head.

Last year, finished class E pigs earned substantially less than 2006 or 2005 levels and the national average only once topped €1.40 per kg. In recent weeks national average prices are hovering just above €1.20 per kg, but there is a lot of ground to recover if 2006 rates are to be restored.

Agreste's Conjoncture animaux de boucherie for January 2008 can be downloaded in French at http://agreste.agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/animens0801note.pdf

5m Editor