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Continental producers going from boom to bust — but Brussels resists market intervention

16th Nov 2021 / By Digby Scott

A plea by 13 countries for market intervention to help the European Union’s ailing pig sector has been rebuffed by Brussels.

The pandemic has caused a profound downward pressure on food service and domestic pork consumption on the continent, at the same time as booming exports to China have juddered to a halt.

The European Commission says it recognises the seriousness of producers’ plight but market intervention would be the wrong response.

It says individual countries should do the best they can using national measures — as long as they don’t breach state-aid rules.

European Union pig producers are suffering the effects of over-production, higher feed and energy prices, disruptions to export markets, and ongoing outbreaks of African swine fever.

African Swine Fever has now spread to the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. An outbreak on a finishing unit there was verified yesterday (November 15).

But Brussels, whilst acknowledging the sector has gone from boom to bust, says it does not want to ‘create expectations that market support measures at a European Union level are the solution’.

Pig prices are at their lowest for a decade. In Lithuania, for instance, they’re down nearly 30 percent since last year and  producers are losing some 40 euros (about £33) a pig.

National governments of the worst-hit countries are warning of ‘the abandonment of pig production’, which would be 'devastating for our economies’.

The countries calling for market intervention are Lithuania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia.