A survey of pig producers shows that nearly half would be forced to consider exiting the sector if suitable employees are not available in the short term.

This survey, which was carried out by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), is representative of 75% of the national sow herd.

Of the farmers surveyed, 43% indicated that they will find it hard to keep going without a pool of skilled workers.

Commenting on the results, IFA pig Chair Roy Gallie said this would be a potential loss of €623m to the national economy and a potential reduction of €396m in annual exports.

Critical challenge

“The Irish pig sector is facing a critical challenge as it grapples with acute shortages of skilled workers, which is negatively impacting on productivity, growth and the overall health of the industry,” he said.

The IFA has made a submission to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on the critical issue and is urgently seeking an allocation of work permits for the pig, horticulture, dairy and poultry sectors.

Gallie said the pig sector's success is vital, not only for the farmers and workers directly involved, but also for the wider economy and the food processing sector.

“To ensure the sustainable growth of the Irish pig sector, collaborative efforts from stakeholders, policymakers and Government are essential to ensure pig farmers can continue to source quality suitable employees for their farming operations,” he concluded.