A new pig producer levy for research and  development is being proposed by Teagasc a think-in with pig producers on the 16 July last heard.

Pig producers were briefed on updates by Teagasc, Bord Bia and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) at the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise.

Ciaran Carroll, head of the Teagasc Pig Development Department delivered a presentation on the Teagasc/IFA Pig Joint Programme. In order to secure and improve services to the pig sector, Teagasc has requested funding assistance from Irish pig farmers.

It is a key recommendation in the development strategy for the Irish pig industry 2008 to 2015 that the sector should part-fund Teagasc research, knowledge transfer and education services via a producer levy, it said.

The objectives of the programme are increase profitability and competitiveness via reduced production costs, ensure herds comply with Nitrates Regulations in relation to pig manure, achieve compliance with pig welfare legislation and conduct education and training.

The proposed levy will fund two research staff, two advisory staff and one technical staff, the think-in heard.

More than €3m  has been allocated to construct a modern state-of-the-art research facility at Moorepark incorporating a food test centre. Herd Performance Monitoring will be carried out using the Teagasc PigSys Analysis Programme. This system is currently being upgraded on the Teagasc e-Profit Monitor System. The think-in also heard there will be a dedicated Joint Programme location on the Teagasc pig website that will provide all Joint Programme-related information and updates.

David Owens from Bord Bia updated producers on the pigmeat market. Figures from December 2012 show that the EU breeding herd declined 4 per cent, he said.

The current figures were outlined: For 2013, EU forecast group predict a further 3 per cent decline. Total EU meat consumption has been slowly declining with the Irish consumption under pressure. Total meat consumption in Ireland has declined 4.2 per cent over the past year with a 5.5 per cent decline in pork.

Overall EU export volumes have struggled this year – a combination of lower supply in some exporters and weaker demand in export markets. EU export volumes declined by 4 per cent or 42,000 tonnes. These lower volumes were driven by lower volumes into Russia, Hong Kong and South Korea, whereas China has now become the major export market for EU pigmeat with volumes increasing 46 per cent over a three-month period. In the six-month period up to May, Irish exports have increased three per cent (2,200 tonnes). Exports to the UK have increased 13 per cent, Russia 12 per cent, China 11 per cent and a 10 per cent drop to Continental Europe. On the other hand, imports to Ireland have increased 29 per cent (9,300 tonnes).

From the peak in early October, prices eased across the EU through to December and can be described as stable. Prices have been firm due to tight supplies and any gains have been prevented by weaker demand in both the EU and export markets.

Prices have started to increase in recent weeks in response to a pick up in continental demand due to warmer weather. The most recently reported EU pig price are five per cent above same week last year.

Access to the Australian market was granted on the 13 March and should provide opportunities for Irish pigmeat.

The IFA Pigs Committee then concluded with updates on relevant matters, including highlighting producers concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency and meetings with the Department regarding the PRRS (blue ear disease) outbreak.

By Shane McAuliffe

McAuliffe is honorary secretary of the Irish Pig Health Society. 

The Irish Pig Health Society was founded in 1969. Its aims are the advancement and dissemination of knowledge concerning all aspects of pig health and production. Membership is open to all interested in the aims of the Society.

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