IFA Pigs Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to take immediate action to stop pig prices falling.

“An immediate political solution to the Russian ban must be found or pig producers in Ireland will find themselves unviable once again.  If the re-opening of the market is not feasible, APS must be introduced as a temporary measure to prevent further price drops.”

He said that the IFA Pigs Committee have met with the Irish pig meat processors who attributed the disastrous situation, whereby pig prices have fallen by 20c/kg in 10 weeks, to the now precarious export market. “The Irish industry performed well in the first six months of the year, with exports increasing in both value and volume, but it appears that this market for Irish and EU meat is now under pressure.

“We have requested several meetings with the Minister this year, but he has been complacent in relation to the Russian situation as the pig industry was increasing volumes exported and prices were rising.  Prices only recovered to a level of profitability this year. There is no room for the type of decreases that have been inflicted on farmers over the last number of weeks”.

However, he said, the problem for pig producers does not solely lie at the Minister’s door. “Despite the fact that cereal prices have fallen to very low levels, millers are hiding behind poor purchasing decisions and refusing to properly reflect input price decreases back to farmers. Decreases in feed prices are long overdue.  In early Summer, farmers were asked to wait for the harvest and now millers are dragging out announcements into October. This is simply unacceptable, feed prices must reduce to reflect the price of raw materials.

“Although the export market plays a vital role, the home market remains paramount to maximising the value of the Irish pig. Indications suggest that a number of major secondary processors have in the last number of weeks increased the volume of pig meat that they are importing. It is disgraceful that Irish companies would increase the volume of imports at a time when the industry is under such enormous financial pressure.  The IFA Pigs Committee will do everything in its power to ensure that this meat is not placed on Irish retail shelves misleading the consumer and undercutting genuine processors who are supporting Irish farm families.

“We are calling on all retailers and food business operators to be mindful of products that appear ‘too good to be true’. We have heard every excuse under the sun in relation to why the product in the pack is not what it says on the tin but with imports increasing and pig producers under enormous pressure, the time for excuses is over.”