Irish pig farmers spent €27.7m to comply with loose dry sow housing regulations, but the investment has not generated increased productivity and has instead increased the burden of debt on farms.

The figures, which were released as part of Teagasc Review of the Financial Status of Irish Farms and Future Investment Requirements, show that the investment by farmers has also been to the detriment of other investments in other housing – housing that now requires refurbishment.

The report also states that if the targets set out under Food Harvest 2020 are to be met in the pig sector, further investment will be required.

“The most immediate significant investment requirement identified by the industry is a reduction in the merchant feed credit which currently inflates feed prices and the cost of pig production.

“An elimination of merchant credit would decrease the cost of production and allow the Irish pig industry to become more internationally competitive.”

It also says that an expansion of the Irish sow herd to 200,000 by pig farmers was a key target for Food Harvest 2020 and this would mean 56,000 new sows would need to be added to the herd, which would cost €280m at current prices.

It says a more likely, and more prudent, outcome is that Irish pig farms to maximise the output potential of their existing herds through an increase in the number of pigs produced per sow and higher sale weights.