The impact of Covid-19 on the pig sector has been described as “very worrying” due to increased logistical challenges and ‘lockdowns’ in various European countries.

Tom Hogan, the National Pig Committee chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said that pig prices are down 16c/kg compared to the start of the year – a situation that is being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to AgriLand, Hogan said: “It’s worrying, very worrying… We’re hearing that some limited amount of product is getting to China, but with the logistics of the whole thing, and with most of Europe in some sort of lockdown, it’s worrying really.

The pig sector has obviously taken a hit, the same as every other sector.

“At least, so far, the factories are operating. But obviously, the safety of workers at farm-level, and in the factories, is most important to everyone,” Hogan stressed.

The IFA national pig chairperson called on everyone involved in the sector to follow the guidelines from the Health Service Executive (HSE) on mitigating the spread of Covid-19.

“The [sector] is a worry, a major worry, but people’s lives are more important, and that’s the thing we have to focus on at this stage, and to get over this crisis,” he stressed.

Hogan also highlighted that, as pig prices are declining, costs for farmers were likely to increase – namely for feed.

“Feed prices look like they’re going to climb as well, basically because of the same reason – supply and demand and logistics,” he explained.

He continued: “You have to look at it this way as well: In the first six months of last year, 2019, we were only basically breaking even, and there would still be financial problems on some farms, where some of that debt isn’t paid yet.

You would hope, with this crisis, that we don’t run into another debt situation. That’s the biggest worry. But that’s the worry of every business in the country at the moment.

“It’s only a matter, as much as anything, of keeping our heads down and trying to be safe. The same applies to everyone else as well,” Hogan concluded.