A group of Polish ministers rolled out a pig industry reconstruction plan with the aim to increase the sow population by 200,000. Businesses, however, are not confident the new plan will become a game-changer for the troubled industry.
The pig population in Poland is falling, with farmers giving up on their business, according to Robert Telus, Polish minister of agriculture and rural development. As a result, 80% of weaners are now brought to farms in Poland from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Poland has enough resources to maintain a pig herd of around 19 million head, but the recently released statistical data indicated this figure dropped to as low as 10 million, the minister reported.
The pilot programme worth 250 million Polish złoty (€ 56.1 million) involves a preferential loan and subsidy to breeders for the construction, expansion and modernisation of piggeries and their equipment, including the resumption of production on farms where pig production has ceased.
The subsidy can be used for the purchase and installation of equipment and will amount to 65% of the value of the purchase or leasing of machinery, equipment, piggery equipment and its installation.
Under the preferential loans, the government will subsidise 100% of the interest rate in the first 2 years and 50% in the next 2 years.
A lack of financial resources is not the most pressing issue for the Polish pig industry, the Greater Poland Chamber of Agriculture said in a comment on the reconstruction plan.
“In fact, these funds are already available and are not really used. Currently, pig producers are afraid to undertake any development and invest money. Their goal is to survive with what they have at hand. The biggest problem is a lack of the market and economic stability and the very low or negative business profitability, as well as ASF,” the chamber said.
The production of weaners is also hampered by mass imports from other European countries. In this segment, any increase in output is risky because there are no guarantees that more weaners will eventually be sold, the business organisation explained.
Polish association of pig producers Polpig also criticised the programme. “The strategy must be developed with the participation of experts and not become an element of an election campaign that will overshadow the real challenges and problems pig breeders face,” the association said, adding that the proposed measures are outdated and are not going to move a needle too much for the industry.