Pig Farmers Plead for Help as Time Runs Out

IRELAND - "Guys are struggling and are just hitting a wall right now," warned an expert as he summed up the grave financial situation facing County Cavan pig farmers.
calendar icon 10 March 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Teagasc pig advisor Seamus Clarke was explaining to a special meeting of Cavan County Council the deepening crisis facing pig farmers due to their inability to secure additional credit to buy animal feed.

With time running out it is feared that some pig units maybe forced to close by the end of the month, The Anglo-Celt reports. A lifeline is now needed to save an important indigenous industry employing 1,500 locally and 7,000 nationally.

The council meeting heard that the feed mills are no longer able to extend credit to pig farmers beyond that which is already given and with banks not extending overdraft facilities the position was described as dire for the 60-plus County Cavan pig farmers.

Representatives of three of the main banks were at the council meeting and agreed to take back to their superiors the strong case made by councillors and representatives of the pig industry.

The special meeting of Cavan County Council was convened on foot of a motion submitted by Councillors Paddy O'Reilly and Winston Bennett. Besides the bank representatives and Mr Clarke of Teagasc it was also attended by Mr Andrew McCarren, managing director of McCarren & Co, and representatives of milling companies and pig farmers.

The bank representatives said they were committed to supporting the Irish pig industry into the future, but they noted that each farmer's situation was being decided on an individual basis. While some pig farmers were recently successful in obtaining funding to expand their enterprises there were others whose position would be quite challenging, they said.

Successive councillors criticised the banks, remarking that the case made by the bank representatives that they were engaging with the pig farmers and assisting them was at odds with the actual situation on the ground where farmers were not being given credit and were now at their wits' end.

Several councillors blamed changes in the banking system reducing the ability of local managers to make meaningful decisions on loans or the extension of credit. Cllr Peter McVitty, said decisions were being taken by people in head office in Dublin who didn't know anything about the pig industry in rural Ireland and were not in tune with its importance.

Michael Caffrey, a representative of local pig farmers, said that several meetings had been held with the banks without success and they had considered the possibility of looking for money from foreign banks, such was their sense of desperation.

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