Cabinet has approved a €15.8 million support package for the pig and horticulture sectors today (April 13), which includes a condition of a ‘10% decrease in production’ for the pig sector.

The package contains €13 million in support for the pig industry, which is facing numerous challenges and has seen 7% of pig farmers exit it as a result. Announcing the package, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine stated:

“Under the exceptional aid package, pig farmers will be eligible for a maximum payment of €70,000 per undertaking, subject to conditionality.”

Agriland can confirm that the package contains a condition of a ‘10% reduction in production’, but not necessarily a 10% cut in the herd. The reference period for implementing this is also not yet confirmed.

Speaking to Agriland after the announcement, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association Tim Cullinan expressed his discontent at the inclusion of such a condition. He said:

“I absolutely do not support any reduction in production. What we’re trying to do here is hold an industry together and if we have to reduce by 10% we’re going to bring more inefficiency into the system. We’re striving to abate losses at the moment not exacerbate them.

“I cannot understand why a minister that has been asked to help an industry that is in crisis, comes up with reducing production. What is that going to do for anybody?”

The IFA president referred to the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) and difficulties that arose as a result of its conditions, saying the pig sector could end up in a similar situation if this production decrease is enforced:

“It was a total disaster from start to finish and I am not going to allow the pig sector to enter into something like that and that is for certain.”

Earlier today, prior to Cabinet approval, the IFA and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) attended a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine (JOC), where they expressed frustration over ‘potential destocking conditions’.

Speaking in the meeting, chairman of MII Philip Carroll said that the introduction of a conditional decrease in production would not make sense and could cause the Irish pig industry to be ‘swallowed up’.

“It [the package] cannot include that provision because it deprives those who are producing efficiently and forces them to operate inefficiently. It would not make any sense at all to do it,” Carroll commented.

IFA pig supports proposal

The IFA in conjunction with MII and the Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA) recently put forward a proposal of their own for a €100 million support package to restore stability to the sector.

It proposed a ’50-50 private-public partnership’, which would be funding via €50 million in state aid and €50 million on a long-term mortgage, with a €1 per pig statutory levy to be paid over 14 to 15 years.

Speaking about the proposal in the JOC meeting earlier today, Cullinan said the crisis in the sector warrants support on this scale:

“This is how worried Irish pig farmers are, that they are willing to put €50 million of their own money on the table.”

“While we acknowledge this fund will require sizeable state support, the importance and economic value of the sector merits this intervention, as without it, the sector’s long-term future and its contribution to the economy is in real jeopardy,” he concluded.