“1 in 3 creators will disappear”

Torn between the low price of pork and an explosion in the cost of food to feed their animals, farmers in Hauts-de-France are experiencing a crisis described as historic. With the Paris International Agricultural Show opening on February 22, they are sounding the alarm.

It is very complicated. Since the harvest, everything that serves as food has increased by almost 50% and this represents 70% of the cost of production., says Xavier Herbert, a pig farmer in Wiege-Faty near Guise in Thiérache. The producer has never experienced such a situation since its installation in 1991. Between the rising cost of feeding his animals and the falling price of pork, he is currently working at a loss. “It costs more to produce and we receive less than last year“, laments Xavier Herbert.

The financial loss is significant for every kilo produced. “At 11,000 pigs, this represents a loss of €200,000 per year.“, calculates the breeder. How long can this last? The producer wonders about this crisis that is gradually eroding the cash flow of his farm, as well as that of his colleagues.”I have capacity until June, after which I don’t know how I’ll do. Some are in agony“, he confides.

The “scissors” effect at the center of which the pork industry finds itself started last summer and has gradually worsened. In June, pork prices started to fall. Then corn, rapeseed, barley, snails, soybeans exploded. “Wheat was at 150 euros per ton, now it is at 250“, explains Fabien Thirel, president of the regional union of pork producers’ groups (URGPP) in Hauts de France.

In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture said: “TheFrench pig farming faces the biggest price squeeze in 30 years: the price paid to producers has dropped by 14% in one year for the average farm, while costs have increased by 27%.“. A situation that can be tracked in detail on its website.

A retired breeder in Anguilcourt-le-Sart on the Aisne, but still a keen observer of the industry, Pascal Lequeux sees the current period as a historic crisis. “In 25 years, I have never been through such a difficult period. Everything is covered by the price of the food. This is serious for the sector.

Nobody has ever experienced this. Everything increases enormously. Farmers are losing money.

Philippe Vallas, President of the breeders association “Porc d’antan”

In Athies-sous-Laon, Philippe Vallas is president of “Porc d’antan”, an association of straw pig breeders spread throughout the region. He finds: no one has ever experienced this. Everything increases enormously. Farmers are losing money. Many breeders do not inseminate or sell. Some want to reduce or stop“, already tells the representative who intends to gather its members soon to discuss the situation.

Fabien Thirel from URGPP has a global view of the state of the farms. “O crisis is extremely violent. We have a disconnect between the market price and the raw material acquisition cost. The kilo of the carcass is 1.25 euros. If we wanted to be on prices, it would take 1.70. The loss for a farm is 30,000 euros per quarter. The result is disastrous“, explains the representative as the alarm bell sounds.We will have 1 breeder in 3 that will disappear as is. It’s carnage. we can’t work like this“.

According to Inaporc, an interprofessional organization in the sector, a combination of factors explains in particular the drop in the price of pork. According to him, Covid has disrupted consumption and supply, in addition to African swine fever that affects some countries and “the decline, or even cessation, of Chinese demand for meat, which leads to a bottleneck in supply in the European market“, the organization explained in a recent press release.

In any case, the blow is hard for the producers of Hauts-de-France, the 5th producing region in the country with 629 farms. Faced with this crisis, the government announced a rescue plan of 270 million euros and “the expansion of more structuring measures such as the implementation of the Egalim2 law or even European measures“In particular, a €15,000 quick aid is planned for pig farms with serious cash flow difficulties.

Measures received with skepticism by the creators: “It makes me smile. It’s looking good. I read the conditions. They give you (note: the aids) if you’re really dead, reacts Xavier Herbert, the creator of Thiérache.

Charlotte Vassan, president of the Union of Agricultural Unions of Aisne, also puts the scope of the planned aid into perspective. She also doubts the eligibility of most producers. “DDT sent the forms to the creators. 15,000 euros valid once for cash, it’s been a month. Government action is needed quickly for ranchers. Some countries have frozen meat, for example“.

Pig farming representative Fabien Thirel also wonders about the effectiveness of the aid, but wants to be cautious nonetheless: “Will they be enough? In the very short term, perhaps. This is obviously a welcome boost. It will give breath to some creators. The basic problem is that processors would have to pass on prices. The big loser is the producer. The bottom line is the policy we want to give creation. Our distributors fill up. You have to build channels, analyzes Fabien Thirel.

For her part, Charlotte Vassan, president of the USAA is angry: “We have made great efforts to reduce antibiotics, we cannot have concrete loads and behind the import of Spanish pork. We want to pass on production costs to supermarkets. Not viable for long“.

Without being able to act on the price of pork or the price of feed, obtaining a pass-through of production costs from large retailers seems to be one of the keys for breeders. “We have the Egalim 2 law, we have to reach an agreement, it is not expired, but it has the merit of starting the discussion, wants to believe Fabien Thirel.

Farmers have just organized a “series of visits” to supermarkets in the region to see the prices charged by some supermarkets, which are often very low in their opinion. From there until the renegotiation, there is still a long way to go and the fight promises to be tough for them.

Meanwhile, in this environment of retraction, professionals cling to the hope of good sales that will come with the return of good weather, traditionally more favorable to their production. “The price will go up, but will it go back up enough?“, asks Fabien Thirel cautiously.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.