The chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Pigs Committee is hoping to meet with more secondary processors in a bid to boost prices for struggling pig farmers.

Roy Gallie told Agriland that he is aware of at least five farmers who are currently being forced out of the pig sector through bankruptcy as “they simply cannot pay for feed”.

“We knew this was going to happen. If we can get a price increase we will stem the tide,” he said.

Gallie stated that it is “dreadful situation” for the industry, the likes of which he has never seen before.

“It’s quite unprecedented because it comes on the back of African Swine Fever (ASF), Covid-19 and Brexit. All of those things impacted us. So even before the war in Ukraine, we were in trouble.

“So to put the war on top of it and a doubling in feed cost has just blown the whole thing up.

“What we’re looking for is a fast market reaction, and markets don’t tend to react fast enough. We’re trying to speed up the reaction and we’re getting a we’re getting a bit of resistance, needless to say . But that resistance has to be broken down,” he said.

The National Fodder and Food Security Committee was recently told that pig farmers had lost a total of €54 million between the start of the year and April 22.

Pig price

Gallie said that the IFA is engaging with secondary processors in a bid to get them to increase prices, beginning with Carroll Cuisine yesterday (Thursday, May 5).

Farmers held a rally outside the facility in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, which ended just after midnight when commitments were given by the processor. The biggest issue on the table was the price.

Image source: IFA Twitter Pig protest Tullamore

“We got assurance that they [Carroll Cuisine] are going to do their best. They have been in negotiations with all the retailers over the last month to get the price of pigs up.

“So we reinvigorated the necessity that this must happen. They’ve agreed to go and look for a price rise from the retailers that will allow the farmers to get up to €2/kg for pigmeat.

“That’s the price target we’ve set for June. That doesn’t even bring us to breakeven. At the moment, €2.20/kg is about breakeven, but we have to take this in civilised steps,” Gallie said.

The IFA Pig Committee chair acknowledged that Carroll’s are only using pigs from the Republic of Ireland.

“We’ve got a commitment from them that they’re going to look at the placing of the Bord Bia quality assurance logo on all packs that qualify,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gallie is meeting with O’Brien’s Fine Foods today and is hoping to securing meetings with Oliver Carty and Family and OakPark Foods.

“The message must get through because when we go to the retailers, they’re passing the buck back to the processors. They’re not taking the responsibility or have little empathy for the real situation because they’re not living it.

“I don’t think they’ve quite grasped the fact that if we do go out [of the pig industry], it takes nine months for us to get out. And it would take an awful lot longer to get back in again.

“So that means that they’re going to be looking for products. So let’s save the industry before we have to start looking for product,” Gallie concluded.