The total number of pigs in Ireland in June 2015 was estimated at 1.5m, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures.

This number of pigs represents a decrease of 1.2% since June 2014, the CSO said.

The number of breeding pigs was down 1.6%, while non-breeding pig numbers were down by 1.1% in the same period, the figures show.

A comparison of the June 2014 and June 2015 figures shows that in the breeding category the number of sows in pig increased by 3.2%.

Comparing the figures the number of other sows for breeding decreased by 13.0% and the number of gilts not yet served decreased by 4.3%.

The number of boars in the country declined by 1.3% year-on-year, the CSO figures also show.

‘Pig farmers are incurring heavy losses’

IFA Pigs Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty has called on the European Commission to introduce export refunds for pigmeat with immediate effect.

“This is the only measure that will reverse the heavy losses, which pig farmers are incurring at the present time,” he said.

The Russian import ban has served to reduce pig prices by €25 per head over the past 12 months. Irish farmers have not managed to break even for the past 6 years.

“Pig producers in this country are amongst the most efficient in the world. We cannot reduce costs any further.

“Producers must be allowed to make a profit. And the only way this can be achieved is for the Commission in Brussels to introduce export refunds for pork.”

O’Flaherty was speaking at a recent IFA-hosted farmer protest in Dublin.

UFU concerned by decision to cut pig prices

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) Pork and Bacon Chairman, Jonny Cuddy, has warned that the future of the pig industry in Northern Ireland is again in doubt, with already poor prices driven down by a further 2p/kg this week.

Cuddy said that for the past eight months, pig producers in Northern Ireland have lived with prices below the cost of production, with the average price paid during this time around 2p/kg below break-even.

As a result, Northern Ireland farmers are approximately £1,000 worse of per week than this point last year based on a 250 sow herd.

“Producers are already operating at a loss and to cut the price again can only make matters worse for an industry that is struggling to survive in the face of a very difficult market,” he said.