New cry for help from French pig farmers

French pig farmers
Photo: Twan Wiermans

The French union of pig farmers Fédération Nationale porcine (FNP) has asked the government for urgent financial help once again. “Without massive support, France risks an increased and permanent dependence on pork imports from abroad”, chairman François Valy says. “We need billions of euros.”

France is the third pork producer in Europe, at some distance from Spain and Germany. Currently, the French trade balance for pork and pork products is more or less balanced. In the first 9 months of this year, France exported 423.400 tonnes while the import stood at 449.800 tonnes. That results in a negative balance of just 26.400 tonnes.

However, with the steady decline of the breeding herd and the number of pig farmers, it will worsen soon, the FNP fears. In the last 3 years alone, some 1.000 pig farmers retired or stopped without a successor. If that trend continues, there will be 2.000 less in 2030, the union calculates.

“We are not ready to surrender,” Valy emphasises. “Once a location is lost for pig farming, it is very difficult to restart there. Therefor, we urgently need an ambitious multi-annual investment plan in cooperation with the banks and the government. The needs are colossal.”

Production methods

One of the main tasks is to modernise numerous older premises that still hold pigs in cages while most consumers are looking for free range and more animal-friendly production methods. In Brittany, by far the main region for the pig industry in the country, a long running campaign against intensive farming gets stronger by the day, the FNP warns. “Please help us to modernise and adjust to modern standards or the French pig sector will slowly disappear.”

Ruud Peijs International Journalist
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