‘Pig farmers on the brink’ – Hogan

“At this stage, we would have to be calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to offer compensation for farmers who want to exit the pig industry.”

These were the stark words from the chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Pig Committee, Tom Hogan, as he was speaking to AgriLand on the Irish pig industry’s current situation.

Hogan said: “The average European price is probably somewhat south of ours, so there’s a major problem at the moment.

Food is being sold for practically nothing – a packet of 20 rashers is retailing for €4 – I believe pork and bacon is cheaper now than it ever was.

Hogan also expressed his concerns on progress with Brexit negotiations.

“The biggest worry we have now is, if there’s a hard Brexit, factories in Northern Ireland may well not be buying pigs from the south and the concern is that Ireland will not be able to process the extra pigs.”

He outlined that last week, 75,000 pigs were processed in Ireland and about 7,500 Irish pigs were processed in Northern Ireland; adding “the average price for pig meat this year is running at something south of €1.40/kg”.

He explained: “Production costs have all gone up, with feed costs at about €1.20 this year, so effectively you are looking at production costs on some pig farms at close to the €1.60 mark including costs such as wages, energy, vet costs and bank payments.

In the last number of years, pig productivity has increased while the sow herd has remained static; pig farmers are having to run faster to stand still.

Hogan concluded by outlining that the overall outlook for the pig industry will be challenging; however, he expressed optimism that the Chinese market will improve next year.