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Entertainment Too many pigs in the barn: extremely difficult times

20:20  09 october  2020
20:20  09 october  2020 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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The farmers cannot get rid of their animals: Corona and swine fever push down prices. Because slaughter capacities are lacking, there is a jam in the stables.

Eine Million schlachtreife Schweine, so befürchten die  Bauern, könnten Ende des Jahres in den Ställen stehen, weil zu wenig geschlachtet wird. © Photo: dpa One million pigs ready for slaughter, the farmers fear, could be in the stables at the end of the year because too little is slaughtered.

The pig farmers do not get their animals slaughtered. And if it does, then at a market price that barely covers the costs. On Friday, the Federal Minister for Agriculture Julia Klöckner (CDU) discussed ways out of the misery with her colleagues from Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia as well as industry representatives. Longer operating times and possibly weekend work in the slaughterhouses are particularly effective in the short term. The two federal states want to approve this if the farmers can prove "overhangs in the stables".

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First corona, then swine fever

The pig farmers are experiencing a horror year. In the early summer of massive corona infections led to the closure of slaughterhouses, including Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and Westfleisch in Coesfeld, two of the largest butchers ever. Slaughtering and dismantling are taking place again in the two companies, but due to the corona regulations, capacity utilization is lower. After the meat industry had recovered to some extent from the corona shock, the first case of African pork pork t appeared in Brandenburg, whereupon the Chinese, among other things, imposed an import ban on pork from German countries. This is bitter for the pig farmers, because the so-called fifth quarter - ears, feet and tails - was sold to China for a profit.

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The price has crashed

With the swine fever, the kilo price for the slaughter pig (without offal) fell from 1.47 euros to 1.24 euros. That is bad enough, but slaughterhouses are also affected again by the second Corona wave: a Tönnies operation in Emsland and a Vion slaughterhouse in Cloppenburg.

According to the company, 72 out of 4,179 tests at the Tönnies subsidiary Weidemark have been positive in the past seven days. Recently, the trend, unlike in the Emsland as a whole, is declining, also because all employees wore FFP2 masks , said Tönnies. Nevertheless, the authorities have closed the slaughterhouse for the next three weeks, and an appeal will be filed against it. "We have to maintain proportionality and, in addition to protection against infection, also ensure animal welfare on the farms," ​​argues the company. "You close a company that is systemically relevant for pig husbandry and thus bring an entire professional group into an emergency situation," complained the pig farmers' interest group. The Lower Saxony Minister of Agriculture also doubts the proportionality.

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Hardly any piglets left from Germany.

Including the new closures, there was currently a lack of capacity “of well over 200,000 pig slaughterings per week”. It is true that both slaughter animal and piglet imports are being reduced "and a significant increase in sow slaughtering shows that a number of sow keepers are already giving up the branch," said the interest group. However, fewer inseminations would only have an impact on the market in the coming year. According to the Westphalian Farmers' Association, around 70 percent of piglet producers in this country have closed their businesses in the past ten years. Farmers buy more than ten million piglets a year in Denmark and Holland.

If the slaughtering and cutting capacities are not expanded again quickly, “there are well over a million pigs in the stables at Christmas that should actually have been slaughtered and block the space for growing pigs,” fear the pig farmers.

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