African swine fever: systemic crisis in the pig market (neue-deutschland.de)

Pigs on the farm of a piglet producer and pig fattening company in a stable in Fürstenzell, Bavaria.

Photo: dpa / Sven Hoppe

The outbreak of African swine fever has also led to export bans for Germany. At the same time, the corona infections among workers in the slaughterhouses have meant that the pig farmers cannot get rid of their animals that are ready for slaughter in the tightly timed time. According to the federal government, 1.1 million fewer pigs were slaughtered up to and including September than in the same period last year. As a result, the prices for slaughter pigs fell.

This Friday, Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) wants to discuss this development in a video conference with her country colleagues. One observes the effects closely in order to assess whether, when and to what extent possible support measures could be used, it said from her department. With a view to solutions for the »slaughter jam«, more flexible working hours are the focus, according to a spokeswoman for the ministry. Exceptions to the Working Hours Act could be permitted by way of general decrees vis-à-vis individual companies by the state supervisory authorities responsible for the Working Hours Act. At large slaughterhouses, there is also a certain relaxation. It can be assumed that they can now gradually increase capacities again. In this way, at least for the time being, a further increase in the slaughtering jam could be stopped.

There is also discussion about possible subsidies for private storage of pork. It depends on the right time, explained the Federal Ministry. It should also be clarified with industry and the EU Commission whether sufficient slaughtering, cutting and cooling capacities are available and what possible time periods and financing could look like.

In addition to slaughter bottlenecks, pig farmers have also suffered a drastic price slide since African swine fever was detected in wild boars in Brandenburg and Saxony. As a consequence, exports to outside the EU have been stopped for the time being, including to the important Chinese market.

With a price level of 1.19 euros per kilogram, a new low has been reached, said the President of the German Farmers’ Association, Joachim Rukwied. “That is not only embarrassing, but also irresponsible to the pig farmers.” There are no sales problems in the pork sector and prices are significantly higher in large parts of Europe, said Rukwied. “Market developments are not a credible argument here.”

However, the industry service »Agrarheute« also reports an overhang of slaughter pigs from other European countries. While prices in Spain are still at 1.55 euros per kilogram due to the well-running exports to China, prices in Belgium have plummeted to one euro per kilogram. German pig farmers alone have so far suffered damage of around 1.3 billion euros, reports the pig farmers’ interest group.

The agricultural policy spokeswoman for the Left, Kirsten Tackmann, called for “socially cushioned relief” for example through bonuses for every sow that was not occupied. “Or you take the opportunity for the long overdue, socially designed conversion to area-based animal husbandry through exit programs like the one in the Netherlands. Precisely because short-term solutions to the backlog are difficult, strategic precautions for coming crises are urgently needed, ”says Tackmann.

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