Pig Farmers under Pressure, says Union

20 August 2012, at 8:00am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has warned that the future of the pig industry in Northern Ireland is under pressure, with the number of pig producers who have already de-stocked or are leaving the industry completely rising daily.

UFU Pork and Bacon Chairman Ivor Ferguson said: “Rising grain costs are causing farm costs to spiral with no reflection of these increases at the other end. Grain prices have risen substantially and feed makes up 75 per cent of the cost to produce pork and bacon. The pig industry needs to see a comparable rise in farm gate prices to keep businesses sustainable“.

“Pig producers in Northern Ireland are continually striving to make their businesses as efficient as possible, streamlining their operations to reduce costs wherever possible. Also, NI pork and bacon is produced to the highest standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental management. At a time when the cost of production continues to rise, farm gate prices must keep pace to ensure Northern Ireland pig producers have the confidence to stay in the industry“.

Mr Ferguson continued: “The UFU recently ran a farm stall which sold a range of products, including pork, at farmgate prices. This proved to be a tremendous success in highlighting to the general public how little farmers received for their produce and also the frustration at prices not meeting the cost of production. The UFU are now trying to co-ordinate further activity with other UK farming Unions to ensure that this momentum is maintained“.

The UFU also shows its continued support for the Northern Ireland label developed by the Pork and Bacon Forum for Pork and Bacon products produced in Northern Ireland. However, the Union is frustrated at the lack of progress in rolling this out and hopes to see the retailers adopting the concept as soon as possible, allowing consumers to confidently purchase locally farmed produce.

Mr Ferguson added: “We also recently met with our Minister of Agriculture, where the issue of local public procurement and exporting pig meat to China was raised.“

Next week the Chairman and Policy Officer of the UFU Pork and Bacon Committee will join other farming union leaders at a meeting in London, organised by the National Pigs Association to address the issues pig farmers are facing.