Pig producers are in the middle of a “perfect” storm of weaker global demand, price pressure and now an inability to move stock off-farm in a timely way.
That is according to the Ulster Farmers’ Union, which has called for the DAERA to address pig sector pressures.
The farm group has pressed for an early meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, to discuss the ongoing NI pig industry’s ongoing crisis.
It said reduced labour availability in local pig processing plants has been hitting NI pig producers for some time. As a result, it is now causing “huge” financial pressure on farms.
The farm group has met with industry representatives to raise the need to devise a “workable” solution.
UFU president, Victor Chestnutt said:
“The industry’s ability to handle the number of pigs that must be processed each week has to be addressed.”
“This is directly linked to labour shortages. While this is affecting other sectors too, pig producers are by far taking the biggest hit.”
The UFU leader said farmers were being left to manage a “significant” backlog on-farm.
“This means bearing the cost of keeping and feeding stock ready for market. This is taking a toll on already slim margins.”
“The inability to send pigs to slaughter at the appropriate time also risks these animals falling outside the specification required by the consumer and carries a further penalty to the farmer.”
“Making matters even worse, Karro has recently slashed the price of finished pigs.”
“Producers, already facing significant cash flow pressures are taking a financial hit from this problem, not of their making,” he concluded.
NI’s pig sector coming to ‘breaking point’
Last month, the UFU warned that Northern Ireland’s pig sector is “coming to a breaking point”.
The farm group stressed that “time is running out” as “pig farmers do not have the capacity to house extra pigs for much longer”.
It said its efforts to overcome the issue of labour availability in the processing sector are ongoing.
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