Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Pigmeat Sector

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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466. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he and his Department continue to monitor production costs in the pigmeat sector; if he will provide details of the continued efforts in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17297/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I have established the National Fodder and Food Security Committee and tasked it to prepare an industry response to the emerging crisis in feed, fodder, fertiliser and other inputs, and to develop contingency plans and advice to assist farmers in managing their farm enterprises.

Our pig farmers have always been remarkably resilient but I am acutely aware of the unprecedented challenges that Irish pig farmers are facing at present. The continued development of the pigmeat sector is a priority for me given the pivotal role the industry plays in the national economic context. It is the fourth largest agri-food sector, behind beef and dairy, and supports approximately 8,000 rural job.

Production saw an increase of 3% to over 3.6 million head in 2021, Over the past five year period there has been growth of 11.5% in production.

Last month, I announced the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme (PEPS), with a fund of up to €7 million, for commercial pig farmers. This is an urgent, short-term response to assist producers that would be viable but for the extreme current circumstances and allow space for a more medium-term adjustment to market signals.

This scheme was a one off, exchequer funded scheme open to commercial pig undertakings which had produced more than 200 pigs in the period 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021 inclusive. This includes pigs sent to slaughter, exported or sold commercially from a breeding herd. Applications for the PEPS closed on 20 March 2022. The first tranche of payments has issued, with the remaining applications due for processing as soon as possible. All information on the scheme can be found at: www.gov.ie/en/service/d7fb3-pig-exceptional-payment-scheme-peps/

Furthermore, my Department continues to engage at EU level to ensure a joined-up EU approach to the challenges arising from Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, including through the European Food Security Crisis preparedness response Mechanism (EFSCM). Last week the Commission announced the adoption of exceptional support measures across the agriculture sector, along with a communication on Food Security. In addition, the Commission in view of the particularly difficult situation in the pig meat sector has opened a new private storage aid scheme to assist in stabilising the sector.

The Department is currently examining the detailed requirements and conditionality attached to the exceptional aid allocation to Ireland of €15.8 million in EU funding.


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