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Crisis measures necessary for Irish pig industry

"Irish pig farmers are losing on average in the region of €10-15 per pig or around €3,000 per week," according to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President, Padraig Walshe at a recent Pig Survival Strategy Meeting.

The meeting was attended by 200 people where IFA Chairman Michael Maguire commented that "the situation was out of control and price increases are necessary."

Being tricked
According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), 1.3 million kilogramme of pigmeat was imported last year from outside the EU into Ireland and Irish people are "being tricked into thinking they are buying Irish products," said Walshe.

Michael Creed TD, Fine Gael spokesman on agriculture and food criticised the government during a recent adjournment debate in the Dáil where it was highlighted that Ireland's €450 million pig industry employing 7,000 people was in crisis. He stated that it is "not feasible for the remaining 500 producers in the sector to relocate their production to Eastern Europe or Asia."

Serious situation
"It is expected that 30% of pig producers will exit the Irish pig sector next year, which will inevitably lead to a rise in pigmeat prices like in the UK in 1998," commented a senior bank official from AIB. "If Irish meat can secure the backing of retailers, the national herd can be maintained."

The IFA believes that two-pronged approach to save the market is necessary. Irish pigmeat producers could reclaim their market by joining forces with Bord Bia (Irish Food Agency) in a revised marketing strategy.

Labelling
In addition, politicians will be lobbied in the coming fortnight to highlight the need for country of origin labelling and for permitting the import of approved animal feed into Europe.

Agriculture and Food Minister Mary Coughlan pledged additional funding to the IFA for a joint marketing campaign with Bord Bia emphasising Quality Assured Irish Pigmeat.

She also commented that a draft legislation requiring the origin of pig, poultry and sheep meat to be shown on labels is being handled by the Department of Health and Children. On the website of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, a public consultation is currently taking place on this proposal. The next step is European Commission approval.

Related websites:
• Irish Farmers Association
• Fine Gael
• Bord Bia - Irish Food Agency
• European Commission

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