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A critical year for Danish pig farmers

A New Year Message from Erik Larsen, Chairman of SEGES Pig Research Centre

“It has been well documented that 2015 was a difficult year for Danish and indeed all EU pig farmers. Major challenges still lie ahead in the coming few months, but here are some of my hopes for the year ahead.

Easier finance for growth
”The whole farming sector needs easier access to financing of new investments required to modernise our sector and encourage new entrants.

“This is a pressing issue for a newly created committee, comprising experts from the agricultural and food industry, the academic world and the financial sector. I look forward to hearing their analysis of current difficulties, coupled with some new creative thinking to help get much needed investments underway.

Broader political support
“Our industry has the potential to be a powerful driver of Denmark’s economy and of employment levels. We produce high quality products and our efficiency compares well to that of our competitors.

“It is crucial that the contribution made by the farming sector achieves better recognition among our politicians. There is evidence that the levels of goodwill towards agriculture have improved, but broader political support is needed if this is to lead to more positive action by our policy makers.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the implementation of the ‘16 Point Plan’ and hope it will lead to improved profitability at the grassroots of our industry.

New environmental regulations
“The new agricultural package contains an agreement to end the existing ‘harmonisation requirement’, which is based on 1.4 animal units per hectare in the case of finishing pigs. The plan is to put our famers on a more level playing field with other EU farmers where 1.7 Animal Units per hectare applies. It is likely that this change will be made in 2017.

“At the same time, more flexible rules will break some of the other rigid links between pig housing and local land ownership and will enable many more farms to operate at optimum capacity. Discussions on the detail of this new approach have been in progress for some time and I can only urge the government and authorities to implement the new rules as soon as possible.

Improved export opportunities
“The Russian market, which used to import significant volumes, remains closed to EU supplies. As a major pig meat exporter, this has cost us dearly.

“However, other markets are starting to compensate for this loss of sales volume. Many of our by-products are already a sought after delicacy for the growing and increasingly affluent population of China.

“In recent months, there have been hopeful signs that the Chinese market may open to processed meat products from Denmark.

Increased sales of genetics
“With the formation of a more unified sales organisation, DanAvl can now consolidate and develop its position in the global marketplace for pig genetics. Our aim is to double our export volumes over the next five years, by adding value to the businesses of our customers and other partners – not forgetting our own farmer owners.

“A very happy and, hopefully, prosperous New Year to all our employees, owners and customers.”