Pig aid 'too low to meet EU rules'
Grant aid available under the new Pig Welfare Scheme will not be sufficient for farmers to meet the requirements of stringent EU regulations, the IFA has claimed.
While the farmer body welcomed the introduction of the package, which is worth €29m to the pig and poultry sectors, it said it would not cover the investment required by pig producers to comply with EU animal welfare requirements.
IFA pig committee chairman Tim Cullinan said pig farmers already had to meet strict animal welfare standards.
He called on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to seek a postponement in the implementation of the new animal health regulations until the pig sector was profitable.
"Pig producers have suffered the worst losses ever recorded in the past number of years, between low prices and high feed costs," Mr Cullinan said.
"To add to these difficulties, the EU has introduced regulations that add considerable costs to production, while they have failed to introduce legislation that would be of benefit to producers such as a fair labelling system for country of origin.
"The EU is now in negotiations with the Mercosur countries to bring in large quantities of meat whose welfare and environmental credentials have been exposed as non-existent in the past," he added.
"In the shadow of such an agreement, the EU expects pig producers to invest heavily in animal welfare when European pigmeat could be replaced at any time with a product that is far inferior to what is home-produced.