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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘We believe the state should purchase at least 100,000 pigs from crippled farmers’

The Rural Independent Group has accused the government of failing to act to address the “spiralling” pig sector crisis.

It has called on the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine to create an emergency pig farmers’ hardship support scheme.  

Group leader, deputy Mattie Mc Grath pointed to the “significant” gap between the cost of pig production and what processing plants pay farmers.

He said “soaring” input costs and supply chain disruptions Covid, and Brexit caused mean a 500-sow unit is now losing more than €35,000 per month.

“The most recent pig price cut of 4c/kg, coupled with rising feed costs of €35 per tonne, means every pig produced on Irish farms is now losing over €35,” McGrath commented.

“This is further compounded by the fact that farmers are feeding pigs that would ordinarily have been killed weeks ago. Factories cannot carry out kills due to staffing pressures.”

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Mental well-being and financial pressures

He stressed that farmers across the country are under “extreme” pressure, and the group is “genuinely worried” about their mental wellbeing.

“These farmers are under extreme financial pressures, and all contingencies have been exhausted.”

He said pig farmers have raised their “dire” situation with the group.

Accordingly, the group calls on the Minister for Agriculture and the government to take urgent action to support these farmers.

“We believe an emergency state hardship scheme must be established. The scheme must be easily accessible to all pig farmers.”

“Equally, we believe the state should purchase at least 100,000 pigs from crippled farmers, slaughter them, and hold them in cold storage.”

Furthermore, the group believes the government should also instruct banks and feed suppliers to be flexible with farmers at this time.

“These measures are essential to relieve some of the pressures on these farmers. Unfortunately, the Irish government has failed to act. We believe this position is no longer tenable.”

Support for pig farmers

Governments in other jurisdictions have “rallied” to the support of their pig farmers.

For instance, he pointed to Scotland’s support schemes with grant aid of over £1.4 million.

Also, he listed the US where farmers could avail of a €47 per pig scheme, together with a further €44 million recoupment of losses scheme.

“We urgently need a financial aid package for the Irish pig sector. We cannot overstate the gravity of this situation. Minister Mc McConalogue and the government must respond now,” concluded the deputy.

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