Pig farmers kick up a stink in Lisbon

A “red letter day” in the history of Portuguese pig farming is promised today, and as we write we are still no nearer to knowing what exactly is planned.

All that the Federation of Portuguese Pig Farmers have said is that it hopes for “mass adhesion” as the sector is in crisis.

At risk, explains Público, are 200,000 jobs and the “continuity of pig farms” in the face of falling prices throughout Europe and increasing difficulties selling Portuguese pork.

One of the biggest problems is the Russian embargo on agricultural products and foods produced in the EU – in response to sanctions levied by Europe over Russia’s activity in the Ukraine.

In a statement posted in newspapers this morning, ahead of today’s mass demo outside the Agricultural ministry, the federation affirms: “Portuguese pig farmers do not want to die.”

“Right now, daily costs to pig farmers are insupportable,” it continues.

“If measures are not taken, the collapse of the sector will be a reality, bringing to an end Portuguese pork” which the statement adds is “one of the best meats in Europe and the world”.

“The government doesn’t help us,” farmers continue, stressing that after three months in power, “there has not been one action taken in the defence of pig farming.”

Heaping on the sense of drama, the statement claims the new minister for agriculture “risks going down in history as the gravedigger of national pig farming”.

It gives details of community funding, saying that Brussels “attributed €500 million to the dairy and pig farming sectors”.

“To this figure, each country could add an equal amount. Portugal gave €4.3 million and pig farming got ZERO.

“Our European colleagues received tens of thousands. How can we compete with them?”

President of FPAS, Vítor Menino told reporters before the demo: “We are not asking for financial support. What we want is a restructuring of short-term credits.

“Added to that, we want rigorous checking so that the mark (Portuguese pork) becomes a fact, and rules are established to give farmers their space (in the market).”

Pig farmers have, up until now, been peaceful, Menino added, unlike French cousins who have set pigs loose in supermarkets in protest over the tribulations of the industry.

“We cannot die silent,” the FPAS statement concludes as the nation waits for this afternoon’s “day of reckoning” in front of the Ministry of Agriculture.

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