Pig farmers do not kill their animals. And if so, then at a market price that can barely cover the costs. On Friday, the Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) discussed the ways out of poverty with her colleagues from Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as with industry. In the short term, longer operating hours and possibly weekend work in slaughterhouses are particularly effective. Both Länder want to approve this if farmers can prove “stable overhangs”.
First the corona, then the swine fever
Pig farmers are experiencing a horror year. In early summer, massive corona infections led to the closure of slaughterhouses, including the Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and Westfleisch in Coesfeld, two of the largest butchers ever. Slaughter and dismantling are again taking place in two companies, but due to corona regulations, capacity utilization is lower. After the meat industry recovered to some extent from the corona shock, the first case of African swine fever appeared in Brandenburg, after which the Chinese imposed, among other things, a ban on the import of pork from German countries. This is bitter for pig farmers because the so-called fifth quarter – ears, legs and tails – was sold to China for profit.
The price collapsed
With swine fever, the price per kilogram of pigs for slaughter (excluding offal) fell from 1.47 euros to 1.24 euros. That’s bad enough, but the second wave of Corona is once again affecting the slaughterhouse: Operation Tönnies in Emsland and the Vion slaughterhouse in Cloppenburg.
Federal Food Minister Julia Klöckner presents the logo of the new “Nutri Score”, which consumers use when shopping … Photo: dpa
According to the subsidiary Tönnies Weidemark, 72 out of 4,179 tests were positive in the last seven days. Recently, unlike Emsland as a whole, the trend has been declining, not least because all employees wore FFP2 masks, Tönnies said. However, the authorities closed the slaughterhouse for another three weeks and an appeal was lodged against them. “We must maintain proportionality and, in addition to protecting against infection, ensure animal welfare on farms,” the company says. “Close a company that is systemically relevant for pig farming, and you will put the whole professional group in an emergency situation,” the pig farmers’ interest group complained. The Lower Saxon Minister of Agriculture also doubts proportionality.
Almost no piglets from Germany
Including the new closures, there was currently a lack of “” more than 200 000 pig slaughterings per week “capacity. It is true that imports of animals for slaughter and piglets are declining “and a significant increase in the slaughter of sows shows that many sow farmers are already giving up the branch,” the interest group said. Fewer inseminations would have an impact on the market until next year. According to the Westphalian Farmers’ Association, about 70 percent of piglet producers in the country have closed their businesses in the last ten years. Farmers buy more than ten million piglets a year in Denmark and the Netherlands.
Unless there is a rapid re-expansion of slaughter and cutting capacity, “there are more than a million pigs in the stables at Christmas that should have been actually slaughtered and are blocking the pig farming area,” pig farmers fear.