European pork producers urged the EU executive last Friday to agree emergency support measures to bring the sector out of its "present crisis situation", which they blamed on low prices and soaring costs of animal feed, Reuters reports.
The European Union's pig herd has recently begun to shrink in size following a 70% rise in feed wheat futures since June, and producers complain that they have been unable to pass on their increased costs into higher consumer prices.
"The main problem is we can't reflect the higher cost of production in the price of meat because the retailers put huge pressure to keep prices down. We need immediate measures to improve the situation," said Antonio Tavares of EU farmers' union Copa-Cogeca
Dairy sector as an example
The head of Belgium's Flemish regional government, Kris Peeters, organised a meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss the situation, and called on the EU to agree support measures for the sector similar to those agreed for the EU dairy sector last year.
"We had this discussion when the milk sector was in deep troubles, so I know very well what is possible at the European level," Peeters said.
In 2009 the EU approved a 300 million euro support package to help dairy farmers hit by low prices, including export subsidies and intervention purchases for surplus dairy stocks.
But Peeters said resistance from some EU governments and the European Commission has so far blocked any serious discussion of similar support for the pig sector.
"For the moment my impression is that because not all the member states are in favour of taking action, the Commission is also not for the moment convinced that we must do something.
A spokesman for EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos said the Commission was continuing to monitor the situation in the pig sector closely, and was ready to propose support measures if necessary.
Peeters said he would try again to raise the sector's concerns at a meeting of EU farm ministers in Brussels next week.