July 5, 2004
North Ireland's Pig Prices Fail To Rise With Demand
Despite the apparent shortage of pigs in local factories, prices in Northern Ireland remained virtually unchanged during the month of June.
The DARD market report shows that base prices in June were averaging 96.9p/kg deadweight while GB prices averaged 108.4p/kg deadweight.
Prices south of the border continued to increase this week with a 6 cent/kg rise, one of the largest increases ever seen in ROI. Prices in Europe also strengthened throughout June.
The Meadow Quality Livestock report shows that prices last week in France were averaging 97.6p/kg, Germany 99.6p/kg, Holland 92.7p/kg and Spain at 108.6p/kg. Danish prices remain at the bottom of the league averaging 80.5p/kg last week. The ROI is predicting a further price rise next week and producers in Northern Ireland will be hoping that this rise can be mirrored north of the border.
Pig producers in Northern Ireland however remain concerned about the future of pig production in the province. The implementation of the nitrates directive and IPPC legislation is making pig producers extremely nervous.
The vast majority of NI pig producers own little or no land, and the pig industry relies on other farmers to provide land for the spreading of slurry.
As other farmers are still considering their options, pig farmers are being left uncertain as to where they will be able to find land suitable for spreading in order for them to meet the current proposals for implementation of the nitrates directive.
While pig prices have improved in 2004, margins still remain tight due to the higher feed costs.
This coupled with several difficult years in pig production means that pig producers may not be in a position to invest in new slurry stores or to rent 'spreadlands' and may opt to cut numbers.
This option also presents problems as the reduction in sow numbers to allow producers to meet the limits imposed in the nitrates directive, could make units un-viable.
Any further reduction in the NI sow herd could question the viability of the processing sector as it stands and other ancillary industries.
The current economics of pig production will not allow for the transportation of slurry to areas further away from the farm.
UFU Pigs Committee Chairman Nial Jordan stated: "The Ulster Farmers Union has continually highlighted the problems that the nitrates directive could bring to the local pig industry to all relevant bodies and has been liasing with other pig industry groupings on this issue.
"It is important that all players in the NI pig industry realise that pig producers are going into a period of great uncertainty about the future of the sector here.
"If there is a wish to continue to produce NI pigmeat, all sectors must assist and work with producers to help sustain a local pig industry."