“Cashflow is so precarious at the moment that some pig farmers need to sell pigs solely to buy feed for the coming week. It is at the situation now that if the compounder doesn’t get the cheque on the Friday, there won’t be any feed delivered on the following Monday.”
These were the worrying words from the chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Pigs Committee, Thomas Hogan.
Hogan explained that “the protocol is always to sit down and engage with the processors first”. He stressed that if something doesn’t happen at that stage, farmers will have no other option but to go to the factories to protest.
I think farmers are at their wits end and they are capable of doing anything. On the one hand, farmers might like to protest; but on the other hand, they’re not in a position to do it.
Hogan explained that the pig price in Ireland is currently at an average of 137.2c/kg.
“The break even before the last feed rise would have been around 150c/kg; the last feed price rise came on September 1 and it was a €20/t increase.
“A €10/t rise in feed costs is effectively a 4c/kg increase in the cost of production; therefore production costs on most pig farms in Ireland now are around 158-160c/kg.
“Feed costs have gone up €60/t since this time last year. But it is not the price of feed that is the problem, it’s the price of pigs,” Hogan said.
He explained that in the UK, pig prices are currently at 164c/kg – which is over 26c/kg ahead of the Irish price.
- Germany: 151c/kg;
- Netherlands: 137c/kg;
- France: 133c/kg;
- Denmark: 132c/kg;
- Belgium: 118c/kg.
Hogan concluded by expressing his concern that pig farmers’ struggles are falling on deaf ears.
“We asked the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to call a stakeholders meeting a few weeks ago and – to date – the IFA has got no response,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the state of affairs in the Irish pig industry, CEO of Rosderra Irish Meats, Jim Hanley, told AgriLand: “Pig prices relate to the market position and if the markets improve, the pig price will improve; but at present, and more recently, we have seen markets dis-improve.
“If there is improvement in the markets, it will be reflected in the pig price.”