There is now concern in both the Republic and Northern Ireland over recent drops in pig prices.

IFA Pigs Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty has said ‘pig producers are shocked and disgusted that pig prices have fallen by an unprecedented 16c/kg in five weeks. The average pig price this year is €1.63/kg so 16c/kg is a fall of almost 10%, this is an unwarranted and unexplained drop in prices that producers cannot afford”.

Pat said ‘Pig production is an industry of extremely tight margins and 4c/kg can be the difference between profitability and falling into the red. A drop of this magnitude over such a short period of time is impossible to cover and farmers are now back in familiar territory, struggling to keep their heads above water’.

The poor situation on farms is being exacerbated by feed prices which should have fallen by at least €30/tonne this year but so far have fallen by only €10/tonne and although more is promised, this is of very little value to the farmer whose pig price is now falling short of the feed bill.

“Farmers across the country are querying why such a rapid and huge fall in pig prices has occurred. Exports have been very positive this year with both value and volume rising, retail value is also up with bacon and sausages performing very well this year. Farmers need answers and these must be provided by factories immediately.”

In Northern Ireland, there is said to be huge concern over the gap between the prices paid to pig farmers in Northern Ireland compared to those in Great Britain which is said to have widened again this week and Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president Ivor Ferguson has said that he continues to be baffled by this completely unjust price differential.

UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson said; “The pig meat produced here in Northern Ireland still has to meet the same strict Red Tractor standards as across the water. We are producing a top quality product and we should be paid accordingly, especially as our counterparts in GB, who are producing to the same specification, are being rewarded for their efforts. It is astonishing that processors here think they can justify this completely unfair price differential.

“A year ago the price differential stood at some 7p to 8p/kg below the price paid in GB, which was bad enough but this gap has progressively gotten worse. Local pig producers are now being paid up to 15p/kg below the average price paid to their colleagues across the water and this is totally unacceptable. To add insult to injury, pig producers in GB also have the advantage of their feed costs being £20 to £25 per tonne less than the feed price paid in Northern Ireland.”