Commercial pig farmers are set to receive a €3,000 flat-rate payment under the direct aid scheme announced by the Minister for Agriculture late last year.

The Minister this week announced that pig farmers with a minimum level of supply of 200 pigs in 2015 will receive the payment as part of the EU’s €1m aid scheme.

However, Teagasc’s Ciaran Carroll said that this payment merely acknowledges the fact that many pig farmers are coming under financial pressure.

“About 320 commercial pig farmers will receive this payment, but it will have very little impact on the bigger herds.

“It will buy three tonnes of creep on the average 550-sow herd, these herds are spending €41,000 on creep feed each year.

“The average Irish herd with 550 sows has a feed bill in the region of €1.1m per year,” he said.

Despite the small amount of money that each pig farmer will receive, Carroll sad that there probably wasn’t any other way the Department could have allocated the money.

“The Department secured funding for the pig sector from the EU as a direct aid. Even if the funding had been doubled to €2m, it would still only be €6,000 for each pig farmer.

“But the funding acknowledges that the Department is aware of the difficulties facing pig farmers,” he said.

Carroll suggested that the Department of Agriculture should raise the funding available to pig farmers under TAMS, as the current budget available to pig farmers is too low.

“The budget needs to be raised to allow pig farmers to make real investments on their farms, this will have the biggest impact on pig farmer’s incomes,” he said.

Carroll also said that the last 12 months has been very difficult for pig producers in Ireland.

Pig prices are sitting at €1.38/kg. The breakeven price is currently €1.50-1.60/kg. There is very little light at the end of the tunnel.

However, the Teagasc Pig Specialist said that farmers could face lower feed bills in the coming year as the price of feed looks set to be cheaper in 2016.

At the announcement of the payment details, Minister Coveney said that it will be targeted at farmers most affected by price volatility.

“This support payment originates from a package of measures proposed by the EU Commission in response to the significant price deterioration experienced by pig farmers in 2015.

“The impact of which has been exacerbated by the closure of the Russian market. The Government decided to match the EU funding for the sector thus providing for a €1m package, he said.