The future of Northern Ireland’s pig industry is in doubt as the number of producers operating at a loss grows, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has warned.
As the UK-wide crisis deepens, UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson warned that without action to tackle profitability, the “exodus” of producers would accelerate with inevitable consequences for jobs in the sector.
With prices at their lowest level in eight years, he said: “Over the past year prices have fallen by more than a third from 160 to 103 pence a kilo.
“Production simply is not sustainable at these prices.”
He said the main reason for the price plunge is an excess of pigmeat on the European market.
The rise of of sterling over the euro had also made UK pork exports uncompetitive while attracting in more eurozone pork.
“Without local pig producers, processors will not have a business,” he said.
“They are still making a margin, so they can view paying more to farmers as an investment to ensure their business has a future. We know consumers want local pork and bacon – but they need to seek it out on supermarket shelves and query the origin of what they are offered.
“As with other sectors of agriculture, the banks need to recognise the scale of the crisis and show more imagination about how to get farm families through it until better days return,” he said.