EU ministers told to stop pig crisis

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Copa president Martin Merrild: pig meat a "difficult market situation".
Copa president Martin Merrild: pig meat a "difficult market situation".

Related tags European union Eu Livestock

The pig market was described as “critical” today by EU farming bodies Copa and Cogeca, who warned EU agriculture ministers of the strain Russia’s export ban has had on the market.

Copa president Martin Merrild and Cogeca president Christian Pees pressed a delegation of EU farm ministers in Luxembourg to help alleviate pressure on European farmers by implementing emergency measures stipulated in September’s aid package.

Their request came as ministers were set to debate the €500m (£365m) aid package given to struggling farmers, which Copa previously described as insufficient and having "few positive elements"​.

Speaking to EU ministers on Monday 16 November, Merrild said: "There is strong downward pressure on the EU pig meat sector partly as a result of the Russian export ban and due to a lack of short-term measures to tackle the difficult market situation."

Ease the pressure 

He added: "We therefore urge the EU Commission to introduce private storage aid for pig meat, as agreed in the aid package, already in December to help alleviate the situation."

It’s not yet confirmed if EU ministers will agree to expedite the measures and Copa-Cogeca were unable to confirm, saying: "Representatives are discussing whether to adopt new EU measures today – as it was included in the aid package – and we are confident these measures will be adopted.​"

Should the private storage aid not be made available by December, Copa and Cogeca fear many farmers will be hit hard and could lose business.

With winter coming, EU food producers continue to experience immense difficulty after losing their export trade with Russia, which is believed to be worth around €5.5bn (£3.8bn) annually.

Russia hard to replace

Since Russia’s export ban, the average EU price for pig meat has fallen by 6-10% for eight consecutive weeks. And pork is at its lowest price since January 2009, according to the UK’s Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board analyst Stephen Howarth.
Speaking about the impact of Russia’s ban, Howarth said: "There some products which Russia used to buy that haven’t found an alternative market. This particularly covers fats and some cuts favoured by Russian manufacturers. This reduces overall returns from a pig carcase and, hence, the price that processors are willing to pay for pigs.​"

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