Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has urged the Taoiseach to provide government aid to the crisis-hit pigmeat sector.

Deputy Smith appealed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin due to the “very serious crisis” endured by the pigmeat sector. The TD stated:

“This sector is suffering huge losses at present, which threatens the viability of some pig units and farms throughout the country.”

TD Smith also appealed to the Ministers in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to introduce a proper and adequate aid package.

Responding to Deputy Smith’s appeal, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he will talk to the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue in the first instance, but also to the European Commission.

The Taoiseach said “it is under huge pressure because of the wider issues pertaining to costs, input costs and so on.” He will come back to Deputy Smith on that matter.

Several factors are contributing to recent difficulties including staff shortages due to Covid-19 which led to a backlog in processing, Deputy Smith said.

“The sector is worth €1 billion to the economy on an annual basis and is the third-largest sector within agriculture,” he added.

He further stated that Brexit severely impacted the volume and value of pigmeat exports to Britain, which is “our most valued and valuable market”. Exports are down 50% since the beginning of 2021, he added.

Input price inflation resulting in increased input costs also hits the sector since pig units are one of the highest users of direct energy in Irish agriculture, according to Deputy Smith.

Direct aid to producers and the pig sector were previously introduced in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Slovenia.

Deputy Smith seeks the same level of direct aid immediately, he said casualties and huge losses threatening unit viability will follow otherwise.