Belgium pig farmers mounted a protest in the centre of Brussels last week.
Some 200 tractors briefly blocked the streets as they highlighted the plight of the pork sector – though every effort was made to keep traffic disruption to a minimum.
The demonstrators, members of the General Farmers’ Syndicate (ABS), were calling for government support.
The farmers handed in letters of protest to the Belgium parliament.
The rise in feed prices has hit the Belgium pig sector hard as it comes on the back of lost sales due to African swine flu.
farmer Heidi Sagaerttold the Brussels Times: “The piglets we sell earn us €4,000, but the bill from the feed manufacturer is €8,000.”
A support package from the Flemish government worth €16 million has done little to directly help farmers, being using mainly towards promotion and labelling campaigns and to finance an organisation that collects carcases and animal residues on its behalf.
Barely a third of that amount, €5.75 million, went to pig farmers, with some 200 young farmers and 800 others who had invested heavily in sustainability measures benefitting.
Farming union president Hendrik Vandamme ridiculed the level of support that had been offered, arguing that €100 million backing was more realistic.
“Direct aid is available to barely a third of pig farmers and varies from €2,500 to €7,500,” he told the newspaper.
“For that amount you cannot buy half a week’s worth of feed.”
He added: “In Wallonia, farmers received a financial injection of €526 per sow. In the Netherlands, there is an allowance for fixed costs of up to €225,000 per farm.”
Flemish agriculture minister Hilde Crevits has conceded that more needs to be done for farmers but gave no short-term promises.
The minister said: “I know that we will need long-term measures. We also need to work in a structural way.
“There must be more respect from consumers and retailers.”
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