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Northern Irish Pig Sector Moving Towards Crisis

by 5m Editor
20 December 2010, at 10:08am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - As the New Year approaches, pig producers are facing a worrying start to 2011 as production costs continue to rise and the price paid for pigmeat remains stagnant.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union Pork and Bacon Policy Committee Chairman Norman Brown said; “Pigmeat production costs have risen dramatically in the past few months, primarily due to increased feed costs. Wheat and barley prices have both more than doubled in the last 12 months and are set to continue to rise in the New Year. At the same time producer prices have been on the decline and in recent weeks have become stagnant.“

The situation is similar across Europe and the EU Commission recently held a ‘Reflection Day’ on the pigmeat sector where they discussed a number of issues including the need to address income volatility for pig producers.

Norman Brown said, “This is an issue across Europe and the UFU welcomes that the EU Commission is looking at ways to address this. However, the immediate situation here in Northern Ireland is unsustainable and we cannot wait for European intervention to address it. Pig producers are already very efficient, having streamlined their production costs, so the UFU is calling on retailers and processors to ensure that they are offering a fair price for pigmeat that takes into consideration the reality of current production costs.

“Pig producers cannot afford to have their profit margins squeezed any longer and retailers and processors need to be aware of the seriousness of the situation. If we do not see an immediate rise the farm gate price the pig sector will be heading for crisis in 2011.“

The UFU has requested meeting with all retailers operating in Northern Ireland, and to date has met with Marks and Spencer’s NIIRTA, Musgrave, and Sainsbury’s, to highlight the significant increases in production costs and the urgent need for retailers to increase producer prices.