As D-Day approaches with only another 12 months to go before the UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019, negotiators are saying they want a deal in place by the end of the year.
However, the big question is what effect will this have on the pig industry and also what will the consequences be of a trade war between the US and China and pork import/export trade?
More questions than answers but much to consider in the months ahead.
UK pig prices are a shade firmer in places with some contribution prices up by a penny at or close to 140p although the SPP slipped another 0.37p this week to stand at 145.34p.
Spot bacon demand has remained extremely quiet with most pigs being absorbed under contract and a return to better weather might give something of a last-minute boost to the Easter holiday period and lift demand in the week ahead.
Spot values have been level pegging with weekly contribution prices in the 140p region, not helped by recent falls in the value of the Euro which traded on Friday worth 87.3p compared with 88.6p a week ago.
As a result, cull sow values have also eased within the 66p-67p range, with reports of indifferent demand in Europe as well as the upcoming Easter holiday, which will take several slaughtering days out of the calendar.
Weaner prices have remained at generally similar levels with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average quoted at £50.99/head and the 7kg average of £37.23/head.
There are still packages of Red Tractor 7kg and 30kg weaners looking for homes, although Freedom Foods remain very much the flavour of the month by comparison.
Feed prices are continuing to nudge upwards, with the latest UK ex-farm spot feed wheat average quoted at £142.20/t which is up by £6/t compared with the start of the year.
However, the effect of the ‘Beast from the East’ arctic weather recently does not seem to have caused much damage to cereal crops across Northern Europe and futures prices have ended another quiet week, with London wheat traded for July at £142.70/t and November at £143/t. UK protein prices for mid-March saw 48% soya meal ex-Brazil traded at £348/t and 34% rapemeal at £206/t.
And finally, Denmark seems to have taken a leaf out of Donald Chump’s book, with plans to build a 40 mile fence along its border with Germany to keep wild boar at bay that may be carrying African swine fever.
In the UK we are fortunate to have a marine border but extra vigilance will still be required to prevent any ASF contaminated products crossing the Channel in this direction, and the associated chaos that would bring with many of us still remembering the dark dark days of 2000/2001 when we were hit by the double whammy of CSF and FMD.
An outbreak of swine fever in Denmark would immediately stop all exports and shut down the entire Danish pig industry and the NPA are urging Defra to control this growing threat from wild boar in the Forest of Dean before it’s too late.