Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) pig farmers protesting at Callan Bacon (Karro Food Group), Co Kilkenny, and Carrolls of Tullamore, Co Offaly, say they’re “not going home” until a pigmeat price increase is enacted by the processors.

Cork pig farmer Tom Sherman said “we have nothing to go home to” and warned that those protesting will stay for several nights if they have to.

The pig farmers at Callan Bacon have been protesting at the site delivery entrance since 5.30am on Thursday and an equivalent protest at the Kilkenny processor’s sister company, Carrolls of Tullamore, was also ongoing.

Sherman, who says he left Cork at 2am Thursday morning, said that the IFA is carrying out the protests because Callan Bacon and Carrolls management have “gone back on their word” on increasing pigmeat prices by 1 June.

'Good faith'

He said: “It’s very simple. We were here five or six weeks ago and, in the room, they committed to a price increase.

"We left then in good faith and it’s only right to give people time to do these things.

“[But] they broke their word. If you haven’t your word, you’ve nothing. We gave them a month and they agreed but they haven’t followed up on it.

“The bottom line is we haven’t gotten the €2/kg they promised or anywhere near it.”

‘Beyond talking’

The Cork pig farmer said the crisis facing pig farmers is “gone beyond talking”.

“We’re not getting paid for the value of our pigs. Somebody has the money, but the farmer is not getting it.

“They know why we’re here. They all know we’re gone beyond breaking point. We can’t keep doing this. They gave us their word. Please honour it,” he said.

Renewed ask

Callan Bacon management had not acknowledged or come to speak to the protesting pig farmers at the time of writing.

The Irish Farmers Journal sought to speak with the processor’s management on the IFA protest. However, they have not yet decided to do so.

Sherman said that Carrolls management did speak with the protesters on Thursday morning in Tullamore and were informed of the renewed ask for a price of €2/kg.

It is understood both processors supply pigmeat to Dunnes Stores and a percentage of that sold through Lidl and Aldi supermarkets.

Sherman said businesses in Tullamore have brought tea and sandwiches to the protesting pig farmers over the course of the day, in support of their cause.

‘Brink of collapse’

Also speaking on Thursday, IFA pig committee chair Roy Gallie said a report prepared by PwC on the Irish pig industry highlights a sector that is on the brink of collapse.

The report estimates that 10% of pig farmers have already exited the sector in recent months, with a further 20% at risk of leaving.

“The PwC analysis confirms just how dire a position the pig sector is in at the moment. The month of May showed no let-up with the average pig farmer losing €44 for every pig they sold last month,” Gallie said.

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