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Better outlook for the year ahead

In his New Year message, Lindhart Nielsen, the Chairman of the Danish Pig Research Centre, forecast a better year for Denmark’s pig industry. But he also called on the Danish government to address the high environmental cost burdens carried by pig farmers, which were leading to an exodus of pigs from Denmark and a loss of export earnings. These were also putting domestic jobs at risk, as evidenced by the recent announcement of redundancies by Danish Crown. ‘Tiny Denmark is an agricultural superpower’ was the headline of a recent article in the Economist.

The Chairman of the Danish Pig Research Centre, Lindhart Nielsen, delivered an upbeat message as the New Year arrived, but also reminded his government that inflexible application of environmental rules was placing Denmark’s export earnings and domestic jobs at risk.

It is expected that exports of live pigs would reach 10 million in 2013, when the final count was made, and the number of pigs slaughtered in Denmark would fall below the 19 million mark.

“Not all Danish pig producers had their expectations met this year. Happily, the forecasts for 2014 look good. The outlook is for more stable and higher pig prices and a better balance between the cost of feed and the price paid for pigs,” said Mr Nielsen.

“Our politicians and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of what we stand for. Danish pig producers are actually major players in ensuring a necessary revenue base for meeting the welfare costs of Danish society. There is the potential to increase production, which can secure employment within Denmark.

“Most interesting, is the fact that leading ministers from our government jointly talk of agriculture as part of a high growth agenda and stress that our industry has excellent prospects and say they are prepared to fight hard for it in the future - because they believe in us.

“The pig industry is one of the surest bets in securing Danish jobs and export revenues in the future. It has a first class business model, generating export revenues of over DKK 30 billion and providing employment for 40,000 persons.”

 “It is good that there is support for the introduction of environmental technology in new pig housing and for development of loose housing for sows in farrowing pens. But we still need some decisive action from the government. It is an unreasonable situation for us that German pig producers enjoy clear advantages over their Danish peers. If we are to fulfil the huge potential that lies in Danish pig production, our politicians should look to press the buttons that will put us on equal footing with our competitors. Nothing else makes sense,” added Mr Nielsen.

However, a vivid reminder of the current difficulties and, in particular, problems created by the decline in availability of pigs came with the recent announcement of closure and redundancies at the Danish Crown plant at Faaborg.

 “In 2013, we developed a new strategy for the Danish Pig Research Centre’s research and development activities up to 2018, so that we can continue to ensure that Danish pig production excels in both competitiveness and welfare standards,” concluded Mr Nielsen.

There were many plaudits for Denmark’s farming and food industry in the Schumpeter blog in a recent edition of The Economist magazine. The article (entitled “Bringing home the bacon”) described the endeavours to build a Silicon Valley-type food cluster in central Denmark, dedicated to innovation, to help the Danish food industry capitalise on the growing global demand for food and new food technologies over the next 20-30 years.