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Coveney to reiterate 'Continuing concern at pressure on Irish and European Pigmeat Producers' at EU Agriculture Ministers meeting

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD will tomorrow attend a meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels, at which Ministers will discuss a range of issues, including the conclusions of an EU Advisory Group on Pigmeat,  the protection of animals during transport and the production of food to meet the world's expanding population.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Minister Coveney said that a number of the issues on the agenda "are of importance to Ireland and the Irish agri-food sector".  Referring to the issue of pigmeat and the pig production sector, the Minister said that he will take the opportunity to reiterate his "continuing concern that, notwithstanding the recovery in pigmeat prices in 2011, many Irish producers, despite the fact that they operate with relative scale and efficiency, are continuing to experience negative margins because of continuing pressure of high feed prices".

The Minister emphasised the importance of the pig sector within the wider Irish agriculture sector, with approximately 800 pig producers in the country producing farm gate output valued at more than €330 million. He pointed to the fact that, in 2010, approximately 2.6 million pigs were slaughtered in export-approved plants, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.  Minister Coveney said that "the biggest single issue facing pig producers at present is the significant increase in cereal costs, with cereal prices having increased by over 30 per cent since June 2010.  The impact of these price increases on pig producers is considerable and, coupled with price pressures in the wider economy, the effect on producer margins has been significant".

The Minister concluded by saying that "in the present context, and recognising the complexity of the situation, it is critically important that the traditional mechanisms, such as the Aids to Private Storage Scheme and export refunds, are retained and deployed in a timely and effective manner when necessary ".

Date Released: 16 May 2011