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Spain's small pig farms threatened

Spain, the EU's second largest pig producer is likely to see its pig herd fall 1-2% this year as a crisis forces restructuring, a leading industry figure told Reuters.

Spain's pig farmers are in their third year of crisis after rising grain costs abruptly halted growth in numbers, which had boomed by 40% in 10 years to 26 million.

Alberto Herranz, director of pig traders' association Ancoporc, predicted that some of Spain's less profitable pig farms would close in the next five years.

"What we need to watch out for is whether or not this shift will leave production in the hands of large concerns, and if slaughter rates will be the same," he said in an interview.

Ancoporc estimates that 33% of Spanish pig farms on average raise less than five head per year, and 25% less than 120 per year.

Spain slaughtered 41.3 million pigs last year and produced 3.48 million tonnes of pork, the second-highest numbers in the EU after Germany.

Despite the crisis, Spanish pork exports have boomed to 1.255 million tonnes last year from 666,000 in 2006, and Herranz said Spain saw opportunities in the huge Chinese market, while eyeing emerging competition from Brazil.

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