At the beginning of the year, pig farmers received a good 1.80 euros per kilogram for their animals, now it is 1.19 euros. At the same time, 590,000 pigs are gushing in the stables due to corona restrictions in the slaughterhouse. Politicians want to help farmers, Federal Federal Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) told state ministers on Friday. Discussions are under way to promote private storage to bring meat back to the market when prices rise, aid up to EUR 20 000 and the extension of Corona aid to farmers. Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) should now clarify whether this is possible. But hope is in sight in another area: According to his own statements, market leader Tönnies is now killing almost as much as before the crown broke out.
But how are pig farmers coping with the crisis? What does this mean for the disabled when prices fall and they cannot get rid of their animals? Sandra Dassler interviewed a pig farmer in Brandenburg. Here is his report. The man wants to remain anonymous so as not to harm his society and family.
“We pig farmers do not need private storage, but the help of Corona. After all, a pandemic affects us no less than innkeepers or other people in need. The closure of the slaughterhouse, not only von Tönnies, led to a catastrophe because we do not have our pigs and it has not yet ended, as the current outbreak with more than 80 infected people in Vilshofen, Bavaria, shows.
Fortunately, there was always plenty of space in my stables – also because we sold some pigs to Poland. Of course with losses, but we accepted them so that we would not have to leave our producers in piglets. They also lost their customers.
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My colleagues rebuilt the garages into stables
But I know professional colleagues who, because they could not get rid of animals ready for slaughter, rebuilt barns and even garages into stables, which was nothing but easy. After all, we are dealing with living beings – and yes, we are worried about them, even though some militant animal rights activists may not do that for us.
Above all, the constant short-term closure of slaughterhouses has been and is stressful for humans and animals: on the one hand, because the animals are being prepared for transport to the slaughterhouse. They only get water and no food because they have to be sober. On the other hand, they had already ordered new supplies, ie piglets, cleaned and set up the stalls – and then it suddenly said, “We can’t take the animals from you. Closed because of Corona. “My people were sometimes on the verge of despair.
Due to the accumulation of Covid-19 cases, many slaughterhouses were temporarily closed. But the market leader Tönnies has a business … Photo: dpa
If the pigs are too heavy, there is less money
And then financial losses. The ideal slaughter weight of a pig is between 82 and 105 kilograms. If you only have them in the barn for a few days longer, the animals quickly weigh 120 kilograms. You are punished for this and you will get about 15 to 20 euros less per animal. Even if you need more food.
Added to this was a general drop in the price of pork, as hotels and restaurants are closed and curry sausages are no longer sold even in football stadiums. In total, it is 50 euros less per pig. In 2020, I expect a loss of 1.2 million euros. Therefore, it is impossible to understand why pig farmers do not receive any corona compensation.
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Dead wild boar: Due to the swine fever, countries like China do not currently buy pork from Germany. Photo: dpa
The African swine fever is exacerbating the situation. Many questions arise: Why wasn’t the fence built in Poland before? Why is it taking so long in Brandenburg now? In the Czech Republic and even in Saxony, it is much faster. But above all: why is disease control primarily left to districts, which do not even uniformly stipulate that free-range pig farming is compulsory.
Why is there no working group against swine fever?
You can also see that something like this has to be controlled centrally with Corona. Why is there no national working group? On the contrary: In North Rhine-Westphalia, there is a so-called wildlife disease prevention society that is prepared and specialized in outbreaks such as African swine fever – why are these experts not deployed in the affected areas of Brandenburg? And why isn’t the Federal Minister of Agriculture doing so-called regionalization? Why it cannot explain to China that African swine fever was detected only in wild boars in Brandenburg and Saxony and not in all other Länder. Why was it not negotiated at the highest level, ie by the Federal Chancellery? If other federal states could supply China again, the price would rise and slaughterhouses would be significantly relieved, which in turn would benefit pig farmers here.
Criticism of Julie Klöckner: Is the crisis management of the Minister of Agriculture enough? Photo: imago images / photothek
I am responsible for more than 5,000 pigs, several permanent employees, my family and the care of the population. If I do not fulfill this responsibility, I must answer for it. That’s my own risk. Many politicians feel that they have never had to take risks if they affect their livelihood through inaction or misconduct. I am thinking in particular of closing slaughterhouses. We urgently needed to find another solution for them, a kind of emergency operation, because they are simply systemically relevant for supplying the population with food.
Big demo in Berlin: Farmers are also interested in recognition. Photo: dpa
What hurts the most: the glaring contempt for our work
But what hurts me and many of my other colleagues the most is the glaring contempt for our work. There is no respect and recognition for those people who provide our food. On the contrary: my children are sometimes cursed like animal rapists, even if we take good care of our pigs. Of course, there are black sheep among pig farmers – but in which industry are they not?
If this continues, we will soon no longer have our own farmers in Germany. Production leaves, but demand is not falling. That is why we need recognition and now also the help of Corona. Like other industries. ”