Large numbers of farmers in Northern Ireland are claiming that the pig industry is in deep crisis – one which could deepen further.

All are demanding the introduction of a support scheme for their sector, similar to that agreed in Dublin for the Irish pig sector.

Producers have claimed that they are currently losing up to £15,000 per month. This figure is based on the current turnover generated by a 100-sow, birth-to-bacon unit. 

Farmers are also calling for all stakeholders within the sector to undertake a root-and-branch review of its entire business model.

They want to see a coordinated production, processing and marketing model put in place – one which would deliver a realistic margin at farm level.

Commenting on these developments, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president, Victor Chestnutt said:

“The pig sector in Northern Ireland is under immense pressure and it has been building for quite some time now.

“Many of our pig farmers are at breaking point. Urgent support is needed as they are struggling to keep up with extremely high input costs while getting little to nothing in return, due to low pigmeat prices.”

“We have been constantly engaging with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) over the last number of months. Representatives from the UFU pork and bacon committee and myself, have met Minister Poots on various occasions to discuss support for the sector.”

He added:

“Minister Poots was sympathetic towards the plight of the sector; however, immediate action is needed to alleviate the stresses on Northern Ireland’s pig farms.”

The UFU hopes that DAERA will be able to deliver positive news regarding assistance in the near future.

A spokesperson for DAERA said :

“Minister Poots has met with stakeholders and representatives of the pig sector on a number of occasions to discuss the issues and challenges facing local pig producers.

“We have discussed this with industry and are at an advanced stage of drafting proposals.” 

Compound feed prices have risen in Northern Ireland by around £40/t over the last number of months.

However, it is envisaged that further increases are in the pipeline, fuelled by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Approximately 18% of global grain and oilseed exports are accounted for by shipments coming from the Black Sea.