Pig producers in Northern Ireland (NI) are being squeezed between rising feed costs and a failure by processors to deliver a meaningful price increase, says the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).
The union’s complaint comes on the back of “rising prices” for farmers south of the border (Republic of Ireland) and in Great Britain, a situation which UFU pork and bacon chairman, Norman Robson, said was “unacceptable”.
He has subsequently urged processors to help bring back some stability for NI farmers or face a loss of pigs to live exports, adding that local pig producers are frustrated and disappointed by the reluctance of processors to pay a price that reflects the upturn in the global market place.
“Many of our producers are struggling to make any margin at all with losses of £5-10 a pig,” he said. “That is all the worse when we produce pigs to the same strict Red Tractor production standard, yet receive less than farmers in GB.”
He also said that it was even worse that producers in the Republic of Ireland, who were not eligible for the Red Tractor scheme, are receiving 5p a kilo more for their pigs by selling to Northern Ireland processors, who “refuse” to pay the same price to local producers.
“One processor has even tried to cut the price this week, despite a rising market,” he said. “Against that background we would encourage producers here to speak to processors in GB about sending live pigs there to secure the better prices available. This would improve their margin and tighten supplies here, which would force local processors to raise prices.”