Bord Bia has launched a campaign to promote sales of bacon and ham as pig farmers experience one of their biggest crises in years.

The biggest difficulty facing farmers is the high cost of pigfeed due to the escalating price of grain.

Irish producers are estimated to be losing up to €15 a pig, or almost €1m a week nationally. The average pig costs €125 to produce, but only sells for €110.

There are 470 commercial pig production units in Ireland producing three million pigs annually.

The Irish market accounts for half of its total output.

Broadcaster Hector Ó hEochagáin launched the new ‘Bring Home the Bacon’ campaign which highlights the importance of the Bord Bia Quality Mark.

The chief executive of Bord Bia, Aidan Cotter, said Irish pigmeat exports rose by 10% last year to €317m.

IFA Pigs Committee Chairman Tim Cullinan warned that jobs were on the line unless prices improve.

He called on retailers to increase the volume of Irish meat they stock. He also appealed to catering businesses to use Irish pigmeat.

The Association of Irish Pigmeat Processors, who represent the bacon companies, said every consumer has a choice to buy up a pork, bacon or cooked ham product with the Bord Bia Quality logo and to make a difference in supporting Irish jobs.

Cormac Healy of the Pigmeat Processors said it is envisaged that international markets will improve as the year progresses but the home market can make all the difference in the short term.

IFA welcome parties' CAP commitment

The IFA has welcomed the commitments given by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party in their manifestos to defend Ireland's funding from the Common Agricultural Policy through the annual single payment to farmers.

The leader of the IFA, John Bryan said the three main parties recognise the importance of a strong CAP post-2013 if the agri-food sector is to realise the potential. He said the next Government must pursue policies that allow the sector to deliver on its capabilities and improve the incomes of farm families.

Mr Bryan said in Fine Gael's case, the party said it will prioritise the Single Farm Payment which benefits active farmers', and Labour will work to retain our €1.3bn CAP funding envelope.

Our negotiating position at EU level is predicated on retaining this envelope.

He said Fine Gael has also recognised that farm schemes are a significant part of farm income and it is critical that any new Government must keep the AEOS open for those farmers leaving REPS 3.

John Bryan welcomed the focus that Fine Gael is putting on reducing costs and their pledge to exempt farm diesel from further increases in the carbon tax, which would damage the sector's competiveness.

The IFA President also welcomed the commitment from both parties to introduce legislation to ensure equity in the food supply chain.