The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling for a coordinated response to the income crisis in the pig sector.

It follows an emergency meeting of the IFA Pigs Committee which was held on Monday (January 10).

IFA president Tim Cullinan, who is a pig farmer, said all stakeholders need to respond to the current financial crisis in the industry.

Cullinan said that pig farmers cannot carry the cost of this crisis alone.

“The latest drop in pig price of 4c/kg, and the rise in feed cost by €35/t, means every pig produced on Irish farms is losing over €35. A farmer with 500 sows is racking up losses of €10,000/week.

“Retailers must immediately increase the price they are paying for pigmeat. Food service must ensure they are buying Irish pigmeat at this time of extreme crisis at farm level,” he said.

Pig sector

Chair of the IFA pigs committee, Roy Gallie said that action needs to be taken to prevent more pig producers leaving the sector.

“This crisis is unprecedented and nothing less than everyone’s genuine intervention is needed,” he said.

Gallie called on the government to explore emergency state funding of the pig sector through Brexit and Covid-19 supports.

He said that factories need to maximise processing capacity of pigs to reduce the weights of pigs on farms, including working on Saturdays if necessary.

The IFA is calling for all State levies on the sector to be paused and for veterinary inspections to be facilitated to supervise Saturday production.

The group also wants retailers to pay more for pigmeat and to increase shelf space and promotion of Bord Bia Quality Assured produce.

Bord Bia is being asked to run a comprehensive promotional campaign for pigmeat, including for the catering and hospitality sector.

The IFA said that Teagasc needs to increase its interaction with pig farmers and focus its resources to help reduce the cost of producion.

The group also called on banks and mills to support farmers who may be in financial difficulty.