Minister announces €500,000 funding initiative for pig farmers

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Funding of €500,000 for the roll out of a Lean Principles Programme for pig farmers has been announced by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

The programme will be available to pig producers in Ireland who are members of the Bord Bia Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme. 

Participants in the programme will work with a panel of Lean consultants established by Bord Bia and Teagasc to deliver a mix of on-farm Lean Start and Lean Plus projects.

Speaking on the announcement Minister Creed said: “In a sector which has shown itself to be remarkably resilient over recent years, the adoption of Lean business principles will assist pig farmers to further increase performance and competitiveness without compromising the animal welfare and food quality principles that are critical to the success of the sector.

“I would strongly encourage pig farmers to avail of this unique opportunity to work directly with Lean experts on their farms.”

This comes as pig farmers have been experiencing all time low prices over the last 12 months.

Although pig prices have lifted by 4c/kg over the last week, the IFA recently claimed that price hikes of at least 10c/kg were justified following confirmation of significantly tighter global pork supplies due to continuing disease troubles in China.

Pig prices have improved to a base of €1.51-1.54/kg, but the IFA claimed that processors will have to move to a base of €1.60/kg to reflect current market returns.

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Pig production in China - which is the world's largest producer and consumer of pigmeat - is forecast to contract a third this year due to an epidemic of African Swine Flu (ASF) which has infected up to 200 million animals. Rabobank estimates that this ASF outbreak will cut Chinese production by close to 40 million tonnes and result in a serious shortfall in the country's overall meat supplies.

IFA pigs chairman Tom Hogan said the expected shortage of supplies in China had already been reflected in improved prices across Europe.

"Demand from Chinese buyers has been strong in recent weeks, due to a shortage of domestic pork production," Mr Hogan said. "Across the EU there have been dramatic price increases since January. Countries with a similar producing and export profile to Ireland have experienced price increases of 25-30pc," he added.

Although Irish prices have increased by around 16c/kg since March, returns to farmers are still well below those available across the EU, Mr Hogan said.

There are reports this week in the global media that African Swine Fever may also have spread to North Korea.

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