The huge financial stress that pig producers are experiencing at the moment is a challenge worthy of an Olympic athlete, said Peter Mockford, chairman of the South African Pork Producers' Organisation (Sappo).
Mockford made his statements in his chairman’s report, assessing of the state of South Africa’s pig industry.
"We have however been through similar situations many times in the last 20 years and we know that pork producers throughout the western world are under financial strain at the moment," he said.
"South Africa is a country where farmers often feel unwanted, unappreciated and sometimes threatened, especially when some well-fed individuals call for the farmer's heads.
We are asked to create jobs and yet huge quantities of cheap poultry products are allowed to be dumped on our markets, causing enormous financial problems for the beef, mutton and pork industries, with resulting job losses. However, bear in mind that our present situation is nothing new.
“A mere eight months ago our bacon prices reached new highs. As far as this present down cycle is concerned, I believe that the industry has weathered the worst. We can now, once again, look forward to favourable market conditions. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Should we, as an industry, be planning for the next down cycle, which we know is coming? Is there anything we can do now to lessen its impact?”
Busy and stressful
Mockford said the past year has been busy and stressful. "The African Swine fever outbreak in the Western areas of Mpumalanga and Eastern Gauteng during January came as a surprise. Swine fever is a devastating disease and the threat of an outbreak is always on the minds of those of us who farm behind the red line. A total of 1,650 pigs on 15 farms tested positive. However, the disease was soon brought under control and no further outbreaks have been reported.
“Over the last two years we have been trying to make changes to the import protocol for pork that is imported from countries that are not PRRS free. The urgent concern is that research has shown that freezing pork does not kill the PRRS virus. We are one of only five countries worldwide that are PRRS free at present and I would like to stress to our producers that we are doing all we can to make sure that the disease does not enter this country again,” Mockford said.