By FW staff
PRIVATE storage aid for pigmeat, which would help establish a floor for pig prices, is to be considered by the European Commission.
An implementation of the scheme, which pays abattoirs to store pigmeat for a few months to relieve market pressure, would represent a major change in the Commissions previous stance on aid.
But the Meat and Livestock Commissions Jane Connor believes it may be some time before any aid is granted. With no immediate sign of a downturn in supplies, the usual storage period of three to four months would mean meat would be released on to a still-flooded market.
“The Commission may want to wait until it sees a trough coming in the market, which would coincide with the release of meat from stores.”
Representatives from the Ulster Farmers Union and the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland, together with other industry chiefs, visited Brussels yesterday (19 August) to seek a quick implementation to the scheme.
But help may not come fast enough, fears the UFUs Wesley Aston. Problems in the Province are particularly acute, he says. Low pig prices, coupled with the fire at Maltons Ballymoney factory in June, means some pigs have not left farms for over seven weeks.
“These pigs, which weigh up to 130kg, are only fetching only about 20p/kg. People cant afford to sell them. They are having to feed them with no cashflow. That cant last much longer.”