“It’s very simple. The only way we will solve this crisis is to sit down and talk and by talking I mean everybody involved in the sector – retailers, primary processors, secondary processors, feed mills, pig farmers and all people who depend on pig farmers to make their living.”
That was IFA pig chair Roy Gallie’s clear message when I visited his farm last week.
The Kildare man says the current losses being incurred on pig farms are unsustainable: “If I walk into a supermarket and pick up a packet of sliced ham I’ll expect to pay somewhere in the region of €26/kg. The pig farmer currently receives just €1.82/kg of this and all we need is this to go to is €2.50/kg to breakeven.
“Surely processors and retailers can see the pressure we are under and take a reduced proportion of their profit margin until we get out of the current situation”.
If we had a multinational company willing to bring 8,000 jobs to Ireland, every politician would be clambering across the story
Gallie says he is getting calls every day from frustrated pig farmers at the end of their tether: “There will be casualties very soon, there is no easy way to say that. We have an industry supporting over 8,000 jobs that are at real risk now.
“If we had a multinational company willing to bring 8,000 jobs to Ireland, every politician would be clambering across the story, yet we are willing to let these jobs go. I can’t understand it to be honest.”
Gallie believes the industry can be saved but will take a huge amount of effort from all stakeholders involved: “We need the price to increase immediately. We have been given an undertaking from retailers and processors that the price will go to 2/kg but this hasn’t happened.
“We need to convene a pig round table forum immediately and get everybody involved in the sector around the table. At the moment there is far too much cloak and dagger tactics and nobody knows who to believe.
“Lastly we need the Government to introduce more transparency requirements in the marketplace. We can’t have fair trade without market transparency.”