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Pig sector plea for EU crisis aid

by 5m Editor
12 December 2007, at 11:02am

NORTHERN IRELAND - Northern Ireland's pig industry has told European Farm Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel that structural funding from Brussels is now crucial for its long-term survival.

The clear request for support was made by Keith Smyton, NI Pork and Bacon Forum chief executive, during a meeting with the Commissioner in Brussels. The meeting was attended by a group of agri-food leaders from the Province.

"We need the money now. And this is the clear and unambiguous message that was left with the Commissioner," said Mr Smyton.

He said that many of Northern Ireland's pig producers were now at a crossroads and for them to remain in the industry they had to invest for the future.

"And this means new on-farm infrastructure, which takes account of both animal welfare and environmental protection, " he added. "We made it quite clear to the Commissioner that every pig slaughtered in Northern Ireland at the present time is dying in debt. As a result, local producers cannot fund the investment that is now required to allow the industry move forward."

In reality, NI producers say that there is one fundamental point: Does Brussels want to see a viable pig industry retained in Northern Ireland?

Mr Smyton said that the issue of labelling was also discussed at length with the Commissioner and issues here still need to be resolved.

5m Editor