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‘Untold story’ of pork production

Nov 15 2013 09:59
Carin Smith
Cape Town – Pork producers have accepted that gestation stalls need to be changed and up to 45% of pork producers in SA have already made the change – at great expense, according to Simon Streicher, CEO of South African Pork Producers' Organisation (Sappo).

He said there is a very strong push by the SPCA to have traditional gestation stalls (sow crates) converted to sow pens by 2016, for the welfare of the pigs.

It costs around R2 000 per sow to convert from crates to open pens.  A farmer with 2 000 sows, for instance, will therefore have to pay in the region of R4m to make the conversion.

“Sappo maintains that the deadline for changing from sow crates to open pens is too tight and can only be completed by 2020,” Streicher told Fin24.

“To add to the problem, the producers who most certainly will struggle the most to meet the deadline – is the emerging farmers, who simply do not have the necessary cash to make such a change.”

Sappo believes this is an important, largely untold story of the impact of the conversion process.

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“The SA pork industry is committed to removing gestation stalls and the date that we will have it completed on commercial farms will be January 1 2020,” said Streicher.

He said this process is happening all over the world. The EU’s deadline for complete removal is January 2013. All the member states could not reach the target so they are aiming for 2014.

“The problem in SA is that we have a lot of developing farmers in the pork industry. They receive government support.  Apart from the costs to remove the gestation stalls one also needs additional space to keep the pigs in a pen,” said Streicher.

“The government will have to invest in developing farmers to enable them to do the conversion. I am not sure if the government can fund the conversion at R2 000 per sow.”

In SA’s commercial pork production sector there are about 110 000 such gestation stalls or crates in operation at the moment.

Among developing pork producers where are about 40 000 stalls in operation.

“I don’t think the government’s priorities would be to fund this conversion process and developing pork producers won’t be able to change without the government’s help,” said Streicher.
“We are already selling pork at a loss. The SPCA’s demand for a conversion deadline of 2016 is not feasible at all.  By 2020 would be the earliest possibility.”

Streicher said the SPCA only looks at the issue from the side of consumers and do not realise the impact it would have on others like developing producers. There are about 4 000 developing farmers in the SA’s pork industry.

“People think it is easy to farm with pigs, but it is not,” said Streicher.

- Fin24



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agribusiness  |  pork
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