Written Answers. - Pigmeat Sector.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

67 Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if his attention has been drawn to the warning by the IFA president that pig processors could be the next target for farmer protests; the preventative measures, if any, he is undertaking against this possible action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5050/00]

I have been closely monitoring the situation in the pigmeat market and have taken a number of significant measures which have helped Irish pigmeat producers. These measure included securing increased export refunds, the introduction of an aids to private storage scheme and a food aid programme for Russia under which a total of 60,000 tonnes of pigmeat was exported.

Irish pigmeat prices increased by nearly 18% in 1999 and the outlook for this year is positive. While this increase is welcome, I consider that many producers are still in difficulties. I have held discussions with the pigmeat processors on the market situation. I also have had discussions with the banks and feed suppliers, who expressed support for pig producers during this difficult period. I secured EU Commission approval for a debt restructuring package for producers in the Border counties.

I will continue to closely monitor the market situation, and I will not hesitate to take any measures which I consider will improve matters for producers.