Belfast Telegraph

Ulster pig farmers could benefit from relaxed export rules

Pig farmers could benefit from relaxed export rules

By Clare Weir

A relaxation on export conditions for pork products to Singapore could herald improved profits for Northern Ireland pig farmers, it's been claimed. Pork exports had been limited by a clause of origin which only permitted the export of meat sourced from animals born in Northern Ireland.

Renegotiations have opened this market to meat from animals sourced from across the island of Ireland including those which were born in the Republic but reared by farmers in Northern Ireland.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said that as a result, Singapore authorities have now agreed to accept meat from all animals reared and processed in the region, which follows a similar move on beef and pork exports to South Africa.

"We have been able to capitalise on the successful inward inspection by Singaporean officials in July 2013," she said.

"They were highly impressed with our beef production standards and as a result were willing to renegotiate the already agreed pork certificate in light of this.

"This good news is of benefit to our farmers and processors alike and I hope in the coming months to be able to announce even more new market opportunities.

"With increasing export opportunities, I am committed to using every lever available to me to assist our industry in achieving their ambitious growth targets."

Robert Overend of Deerpark Pedigree Pigs in Bellaghy, Co Londonderry, exports pigs, pig products and frozen and chilled pig semen all over the world.

He said the relaxation could open doors to the lucrative Chinese market.

"A lot of these relaxations have come about because of an outbreak of disease in USA pig herds," he said.

"This means that other countries, including ourselves, have been able to get a foothold in the export market.

"Singapore is a big market and China would be huge as they would buy a lot of the parts of the pig which we do not consume, like the head, ears, tail and intestines.

"We have had continued visits from Chinese businesspeople and vets and we very much hope this market is opened up soon."

Mr Overend opened the first privately owned artificial insemination centre for pigs in Ireland in 1985. Earlier this year, the UK secured an agreement from China to supply exports of pig semen for breeders.

Britain is also lobbying Beijing to be allowed to export other products including trotters, the market for which could be worth as much as £7.5m a year to the industry in the UK.

Belfast Telegraph