Why pig farming isn't for the faint hearted

Pig farmers are at their 'wit's end'
Pig farmers are at their 'wit's end'
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

There is potential for the pig industry to expand in Ireland it isn’t for the faint hearted, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said.

He stated that while the industry is currently experiencing higher prices of over €1.70/kg, this comes after prices lows of €1.40kg endured last year.

“It goes through cycles of challenges. It’s not an industry for the faint hearted. There is potential for new entrants but the numbers have been going down steadily,” he said.

“There are 440 commercial pig producers in Ireland. About 20pc of those produce over 40pc of the total output. Some are very big. It is very capital intensive.”

Minister Creed made the comments as he appeared before the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee seeking approval of the Animal Health Levies (Pigs) Regulations 2019. The regulations propose the introduction of a 4c levy for every pig slaughtered in or exported live from the State.

The money raised will go to Animal Health Ireland’s work in maintaining high standards of pig health.

Minister Creed pointed out that the Department of Agriculture has also committed to match the funding with €125,000 for a period of three years.

He added that the funding although coming two years later than expected, it aims to build on the successful template that Animal Health Ireland has built in the livestock sector in dealing with the likes of BVD and Johne’s Disease.

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 “I confess we are behind time. In 2017 we did hope it would get under way and we are getting there now anyway. It will deal with welfare issues and biosecurity issues,” he said.

He explained that there no danger of money collected for the newly proposed pig levy “slipping in to other sectors” and will be completely ring-fenced for the pig sector.

He stated that the pig meat sector is the third most important agri food sector in Ireland with approximately €832m worth of exports last year, 8,300 employed in the sector and 440 commercial pig producers across the country.

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