Written Answers. - Pig Slaughtering Capacity.

Rory O'Hanlon

Ceist:

619 Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if his attention has been drawn to difficulties created by the lack of pork slaughtering plants in the Border region; the plans, if any, he has to ensure the provision of such facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16294/96]

Rory O'Hanlon

Ceist:

641 Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the plans, if any, he has to ensure that there will be adequate pig slaughtering at processing facilities in the Cavan/ Monaghan region in view of the very substantial production of pigs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16870/96]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

651 Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if his attention has been drawn to the serious concern of farmers involved in pig production in the Border region regarding the reduced pig slaughtering capacity in that area; the proposals, if any, he and the State development agencies have to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17030/96]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 619, 641 and 651 together.

I am aware of the closure of pig slaughtering plants in the Border region. The ceasing of operations has been on the basis of commercial decisions taken by management.

Before the closures my Department had been in contact with management at two of the plants about deficiencies existing there. Slaughtering plants must operate to the standards set down in EU regulations, and the two plants concerned fell short of these standards. They were not willing to invest the capital necessary to rectify the deficiencies, and so they decided to close.

In the case of the other plant, management decided to cease operations, citing the high cost of buying pigs as the main reasons for closure. Forbairt have been involved with management at the plants with a view to a resumption of operations. It is Forbairt's intention to actively pursue initiatives to bring viable processing capacity in the North-East region to a satisfactory level. My Department is liaising with Forbairt and is monitoring the situation.
Pig prices have risen substantially since the beginning of the year, and are now some 15 per cent higher than at this time last year. National slaughtering capacity is under-utilised and is currently running at about 75 per cent of capacity.