News 705 views last update:Jun 2, 2008

Italian pig farmers set for strike action

The Italian Farmers Association (CIA) has warned that Italy may soon be in the grip of a nation-wide prosciutto shortage after Italian pig farmers confirmed they will be going on strike this weekend.

Italian pig farmers have been lobbying the government for financial assistance since the beginning of the month. The farmers, faced with spiralling production costs and falling pork prices, announced a national strike beginning on June 1 after talks with the agriculture ministry proved unsuccessful.

''The pig farmers are stretched to the limit and their earnings have halved in a short time,'' CIA explained. ''Parma ham, San Daniele and Tuscan prosciutto, Piacenza pork neck salami, Brianza, Varzi and Vicenza salami and Italian game salami could shortly disappear from supermarkets and specialist shops and vanish from Italian tables.''

According to the farmers' association, the average price for pork fell 8% over the course of 2007. In addition to seeing pork chops disappear from Italian tables, the pig farmers' strike has wide-spread implications for the producers of Italy's internationally renowned cold cuts.

Crucial to these products' success is their EU Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) status, which, among other things, requires the meat used to be of certified quality and origin. But pig farmers said they will be refusing to ratify DOP certificates.

Strike spokesman Gusmaroli underlined that the current crisis has provoked ''the greatest unrest in the history of the sector'', and said pig farmers were thinking of organising a national protest in Rome in the coming weeks.

Over 100,000 Italian businesses are involved in pork production, with ham consumption worth around 1.2 billion euros a year and salami around 3.6 billion.

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