The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has met with the main banks to discuss the current challenges in the pigmeat sector and the “importance of their ongoing support”.

Meeting representatives from AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, Minister McConalogue, along with his colleague, Minister of State, Martin Heydon, said they emphasised the importance of the pig sector, its overall resilience and the importance of their support to customers through the current downturn in the business cycle.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the banks highlighted their longstanding relationship with the sector and the availability of various supports, including state-backed loan schemes.

The key message was that farmers experiencing cashflow difficulties should engage with the banks as soon as possible to discuss options, and that the banks remain committed to supporting their customers in the period ahead.

Ministers also meet SBCI

Separately, the ministers also met with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to discuss the Brexit Impact Loan Scheme and the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Both schemes are financed by DAFM in partnership with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).

These finance schemes can be used for working capital finance and include features which address the current financial needs of pig farmers.

These meetings are in the context of Minister McConalogue raising his concerns at the Council of Ministers last week and ongoing meetings with stakeholders, the department said.

Minister Heydon will chair a meeting of the Pig Roundtable, tomorrow Wednesday (January 26). The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that there is a crisis in the pig sector currently.

At a recent protest, the association highlighted the spiraling costs of inputs for pig farmers, including barley, wheat, soya protein, soya oil, minerals and vitamins.

ASF in pigs

Meanwhile, African Swine Fever (ASF) is set to continue to impact the global pigmeat trade again this year, according to Bord Bia.

Further outbreaks of the highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease have been recently detected in Italy, Macedonia and Thailand.

There have been no outbreaks of the disease in Ireland, but it has been spreading throughout Europe since 2014.