Pig farmers experiencing continuous price drops expressed their anger at the lack of presence of processors at a meeting in Portlaoise on Wednesday 6 December.
The meeting was organised by the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) pig committee in the wake of seven pig price drops in the last 10 weeks. These drops have amounted to €25 per pig per week, with some farmers in the room reporting losses of €1,000 per week.
While feed price is also a major challenge for pig farmers, and while it was raised at the meeting, the big issue for farmers in the room was the decreasing price farmers were receiving from processors for their produce.
IFA pig chair Roy Gallie told the meeting that by the end of this month, in three weeks time, pig farmers will be operating at break even or well below break even for two and a half of the last three years.
"That's a fair stark statistic. For the last three months, we've had seven drops in price, bringing us back perilously close to break even yet again," Gallie explained.
Those seven drops, Gallie said, sent shivers up the spine of every pig farmer in Ireland. The average pig farmer has bank borrowings of half a million euros still hanging over their bank account, he added.
"What essential industry can endure a period of such continual losses and, just as importantly, what young farmer would look at our industry as an attractive proposition to dedicate their lives.
"Because dedication is what it most certainly is. Our industry is a lifetime game, because such dedication is necessary, such investment is involved and such passion is essential," he said.
Following a period of 20 months of losses, Gallie said pig farmers hoped their profits this year would move their bank balance from red to green. However, farmers have watched this profit disappear.
Farmers in the room threatened to protest outside processors' gates in order to secure a higher price. However, no agreement or date was made at the meeting.
Gallie said that the IFA would sit down with processors and relay the points raised by farmers at the meeting on Wednesday.