The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling for work permits to be fast-tracked for potential workers outside the European Economic Area (EEA) in order to deal with the backlog of pigs in the market.

Speaking over the weekend, Roy Gallie, the association’s pigs chairperson, called on the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment and Minister of State for employment affairs Damien English to fast-track these work permits to alleviate the problem.

“The Irish pigmeat sector is under extreme pressure due to the lack of suitable labour available at processing and on pig farms,” Gallie pointed out.

“The continuous nature of pig production requires a constant flow through the farm. This production cycle requires that pigs are moved off the farm for processing in a timely fashion.

“All farmers have prudently built-in latitude to allow for disruptions to the normal throughput, but the current shortage of labour has stretched this to breaking point,” the IFA pigs chair highlighted.

The IFA says it is aware that a number of work permit applications have been submitted to the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment over the past number of months, but these have apparently not yet been processed.

“It’s imperative that these permits are issued immediately to allow these skilled workers into the country,” Gallie stressed.

The IFA is calling for the reintroduction of the quota-based pilot work scheme and for this to be extended to include pig and poultry farms.

Cullinan returned unopposed

In other IFA news, the association’s president Tim Cullinan has been returned unopposed as the association’s president for a further two-year term.

IFA national returning officer Martin Stapleton announced last week that nominations have closed for the positions of IFA president, deputy president and regional chairpeople, for which elections take place every two years.

Sitting President Tim Cullinan was the only nominee and has therefore been returned unopposed for a second term, commencing in January 2022.

IFA deputy president Brian Rushe was also returned unopposed.