Pig production is a major sector of the agricultural economy of Ireland ranking third in Gross Agricultural Output (GAO) after milk and beef. Pigmeat amounts to about 6% of GAO. The value of pigmeat exports in 2012 was €507m. Teagasc is unique in that it provides a Knowledge Transfer (Advisory), Research and Education/Training service to the farming sector. The focus of the Teagasc Pig Development Department Programme is to improve profitability, increase sow productivity and grow the national sow herd, while operating to the highest standards of pig welfare and to produce quality pig meat while adopting best practice to protect the environment.
To secure and further improve it’s services to the Pig Sector, Teagasc requested funding assistance from Irish pig farmers. It is a key recommendation in the Development strategy for the Irish Pig Industry 2008 to 2015 that the sector should part fund Teagasc Research, Knowledge Transfer and Education services via a producer levy. Producers agreed to this request and thereafter a Pig Joint Programme was agreed with the IFA National Pigs and Pig meat Committee. The purpose of the Joint Programme is to support pig producers by providing research, advice and education across a range of issues of importance to the sector and which impact on the quality and marketability of Irish pig meat. Under the Joint Programme producers will contribute 10 cent per pig towards Teagasc Pig Research, Knowledge Transfer and Education/Training, over an initial five year term. This money will help fund staff (Research, Advisory & Technical) to carry out a Teagasc/IFA agreed Joint Programme focused on a number of issues. The money is collected via an addition to the existing statutory Bord Bia levy. Bord Bia have written to pig producers to inform them of the increase in the levy.
The high level objective of the Joint Programme is to enhance the sustainability of Irish pig meat production which includes improvements in economic, social and environmental standards. This will result in improvements in the production and marketability of Irish pig meat.
The major influences that will drive change in the pig sector in the coming years include the rapid adoption of new sustainable technologies. Through the Joint Programme the Teagasc Pig Development Department will continue to support this process.