Brendan Doherty, Malin Head, Co Donegal

“You’d be worried about price. I’d also be very concerned about the cost of meal. I gave €650/t for soya last week. Two years ago it would have been €350/t. There were seven drops in price in the last nine weeks or so, when is it going to end? If I look in supermarkets, there are no price drops on the shelves. I couldn’t sustain many more drops, maybe I’m over-borrowed I don’t know, but I am concerned. When pigs were bad for 17 months, I borrowed money. So, that’s a 10-year payback and I haven’t recouped a quarter of that yet. This year started off well in terms of price, but it didn’t last long. Since the last drop, I’m getting €2.10/kg. I was at €2.38/kg, which I’d be happier if it stayed there for at least six months in order to recoup some of my losses. Before we got the rises, I was anticipating getting out of pigs, it’s re-entering my head – if I’m going to go through another bad spell, I won’t be in it.”

Pig farmers Brendan Doherty (left) and Martin Doherty (right).

Martin Doherty, Roxtown, Clonmany, Co Donegal

“To be honest we’re last in line and we’re the first ones to see the drop. The factories and supermarkets seem to have most of the power. That situation seems to be getting worse and we can’t see an end to it. We only ever seem to get a good price for a small amount of time, there’s plenty of publicity about that, but on average we’re not doing well. We’re not getting a fair crack at the whip. If we were wise, we’d nearly be out of it at this point, because we were losing thousands every week for a point, but you don’t know this until it hits you. At that point you don’t turn around and get out of business, because by the time you’re out you’re probably back in profit again. It’s very hard to time something like that. I do think that the processors, the factories and supermarkets have a lot to answer for. It’s a ruthless game, a big money business, we’re last in line and we’re getting hammered.”

Darren Brady, Westmeath pig farmer.

Darren Brady, Killucan, Co Westmeath

“The biggest challenge at the minute is that we’ve had such a tough 18 months and we’ve been working below cost [of production]. We only got a short spell of six months of a profitable pig price. We expected it to be a longer period of profitability. There’s still a shortage of pigs around the country and all over Europe. Our profits are just getting eroded away every week by the processors. They’re going to have to come and be accountable for what’s happening. If there is a reason [for a price drop], we need to be told from then and we accept that. We just don’t know what’s happening at the minute, the figures shown today indicate that the retail price is gone up by 5% and our price is gone down by 11%. We just need clarity for what’s going to happen into the future.”