DUP MEP Diane Dodds has said news of Northern Ireland’s freedom from Aujeszky’s Disease allows local producers to utilise potential benefits for the industry in Northern Ireland.
Speaking after the European Commission formally made the announcement, Mrs Dodds said: “The European Commission has given the green light to allow Northern Ireland pig producers easier access to Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland markets for live export of pigs.
This is a result of the European Commission granting Northern Ireland Aujeszky’s Disease free status along with the Republic of Ireland.
The industry has worked extremely hard to eradicate this disease over a long period of time but this determination and hard work will have to continue to maintain this status.
Given the pressure on margins and the real threat of producers ceasing production, many within the industry have been calling for this status to be granted to allow flexibility and greater, easier access to new markets.
“The potential for live exports throughout the UK and indeed the Republic of Ireland are now quite positive.
It will allow producers easier access into new markets and allow producers in Northern Ireland to look at the potential for finishing pigs and marketing these pigs in Great Britain.
I have met many producers over the last few months that have been frustrated by the price differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain; this change in status gives producers more options and indeed has the potential to create more competition within the market for pigs.
It is worth noting that some producers are claiming a 12p/kg differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain prices.
This is something which affects all sectors especially the beef sector who are also looking at ways of bridging this price gap and increasing the return from the market through increased live exports to Great Britain.
“With rising feed costs and producers on average losing £18 per pig any opening or potential for new business will be welcomed by the industry. It will take some time before we can evaluate the benefits of this change but I continue to engage with the sector and lend any support which I can.”
Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson has welcomed the European Commission’s formal recognition that the Northern Ireland’s pig industry has now achieved Aujeszky Disease (AD) free status.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “This has been a long and difficult journey for the pig industry in Northern Ireland.
In many ways this disease has acted as a lead weight around the neck of our local pig industry; severely hampering export and having an overall damaging impact of the profitability of the sector.
“I am pleased that all of the efforts taken since 2004 by the department, along with the industry, have now paid off.”
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