EPP 2020: Networking with restrictions
The anniversary year 2020 of the European Pig Producers (EPP), which was founded in Denmark in 1990 on the initiative of DLG, is not under a good star. After the first EPP members had registered for the annual congress in the Netherlands at the beginning of the year, the Corona wave hits us all and removes also this event from the calendar.
However, especially on the occasion of the 30th anniversary, many pig farmers from different regions of Europe would certainly have travelled to the event in order to engage in an intensive exchange with each other. Since the annual congress is also always used for the annual general meeting, this was initially postponed to late autumn 2020 - in the hope that it would be possible to meet again at this time. But this was not possible either and so the EPP board decided to have a virtual meeting of the EPP members on December 10, 2020…
EPP President Gert van Beek was able to welcome members from 14 different countries, including former presidents Benny Gussinklo and Erik Thijssen, as well as former DLG- President and co-founder of the club, Philip Freiherr von dem Bussche.
Besides the review of the year 2019 with the very successful annual meeting in Landshut, the reports of the spokesman of the national branches were a highlight of the 1.5-hour event. The reports of the connected board members from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and South Africa gave the participants an up-to-date overview of the situation in the individual countries. The markets for pork in all countries are, of course, affected by the impact of the corona pandemic and African swine fever. However, the effects on prices and thus the economic situation of pig farmers are quite different.
While prices in Germany have been in “free fall” since the appearance of ASF at the latest, and piglet production in particular is declining more and more, production in Finland actually increased slightly in the second half of the year. This was due on the one hand to the integrated production system and on the other hand to the fact that to date there have been no corona-related losses of slaughter capacity.
Belgium, on the other hand, is after the newly acquired “ASF-free” status now once again looking for the lost sales markets in Asia, which are also important for the producers in Denmark. In any case, the fence to the German border is paying off in this context. Unfortunately, the planned exchange of experiences of EPP members at the Danish-German border had to be cancelled this year.
Austria and the Netherlands are also suffering from historic price collapses, but can still export better due to the ASF-free status. Meanwhile, buyout programs are planned in both countries to reduce sow numbers in the long term.
The number of pigs has also been declining in Switzerland for several years, although positive effects from Corona have also been observed here. This is due to the low amount of imports and the fact that domestic demand has increased noticeably due to closed borders in the first half of the year.
South Africa is reporting about a "silly" year 2020, with volatile price trends based on the different lockdowns in the country and ultimately reflecting the volatile behavior of the population in the country.
In England and Ireland, people are more protected against an ASF outbreak due to their island location, but they are looking with concern at rising feed costs due to the wet winter. It is also interesting to see what impact Brexit will have in 2021 - with or without a deal.