Pig farmer members of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) are set to hold a “rally” and meeting in Co. Offaly today (Thursday, May 5).

The event, billed as ‘IFA National Pig Farmer Rally and Meeting’ is scheduled to begin this afternoon at 2:00p.m in Tullamore.

Participants are asked to assemble at Tullamore Mart at that time.

The venue of Tullamore is a change from the original plan, which would have seen the event take place in Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

The rally part of the event will take place first, with a meeting to take place in the Bridge House Hotel at 6:00p.m this evening.

However, the IFA action may continue even after this meeting concludes, the association’s pig chairperson Roy Gallie said in a message circulated to members, in which he called for “full support”.

Earlier this year, the very difficult financial position of many pig farmers was near the top of the agri-news agenda and, despite other issues – such as the war in Ukraine and the impact it has had on all agriculture sectors – coming to the fore since then, the pig sector remains in an uncertain position.

On April 22, the National Fodder and Food Security Committee – established in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – heard that pig farmers had lost a total of €54 million since the start of the year up to that point.

According to Teagasc data presented at that meeting, the average 600-sow pig unit had lost €206,000 since the beginning of 2022.

Also in April, the government approved a €13 million support package for the sector, in addition to a previous package this year of €7 million.

This package will include a ‘reduction in production’ provision of 10%, – though it is understood that this does not necessarily refer to pig herd size.

Under this aid package, pig farmers are eligible for a maximum payment of €70,000, subject to conditionality.

Reacting to that package, IFA president Tim Cullinan said at the time: “I absolutely do not support any reduction in production. What we’re trying to do here is hold an industry together and if we have to reduce by 10% we’re going to bring more inefficiency into the system.

“We’re striving to abate losses at the moment, not exacerbate them,” Cullinan had added.