New pig levy to protect animal health will boost exports, says Creed

Minister believes pork sector can grow in China, Mexico, Thailand and Ukraine

It is proposed  the four cent levy will come into force at the start of September and be collected from the country’s pig-slaughtering plants. Photograph: Alan Betson

It is proposed the four cent levy will come into force at the start of September and be collected from the country’s pig-slaughtering plants. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A new levy on pigs slaughtered and exported to fund the protection of health standards will help grow exports to China and other countries, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said.

Mr Creed sought the Oireachtas agricultural committee’s approval for the Government’s proposed regulations to introduce the four cent levy per pig that, it is estimated, will generate €125,000 per annum over three years from the industry, matching a contribution of €125,000 from the State.

Mr Creed told the committee that the Animal Health Levies (Pigs) Regulations 2019 would support the activities of Animal Health Ireland, the public-private partnership tasked with controlling livestock diseases, to protect the country’s biosecurity in order to help increase exports.

It is proposed that the levy will come into force at the start of September and will be collected primarily from the country’s pig-slaughtering plants.

African swine fever

The pig industry is experiencing an increase in prices from €1.39 per kilo to €1.73 per cent kilo due to reduced production in Europe and increase demand from China due to outbreaks of African swine fever.

“Outbreaks of disease in Europe and further afield have highlighted the requirement for high standards of public health,” said Mr Creed.

He described the levy as “a small but important contribution as we seek to exploit the opportunities arising out of the challenges facing pig health elsewhere around the globe”.

He warned about the importance of running public awareness campaigns at home about African swine fever among pig farmers and the general population, and the risk of “an accidental or inappropriate disposal of salamis and ham sandwiches” from overseas that could expose the sector to the disease.

Export potential

“Some of the recovery in the market is as a consequence of problems that other countries are experiencing in this area. We want to make sure that we have no own-goals in that perspective,” he said.

Mr Creed said the department saw the potential to grow exports in China, the second-largest export market after the UK; from EU trade deals with Mexico and Thailand, and new health agreements with Ukraine.

The pig industry is the third most important agri-food sector after dairy and beef, accounting for 8 per cent of the State’s gross agricultural output.

There are about 440 commercial pig producers producing about four million pigs a year. The sector employs about 8,300 people and the value of pork exports was about €832 million in 2018.

About 20 per cent of the producers account for more than 40 per cent of the output.