Ricard Parés: «We have to have an excellent sanitary level if we want third countries come to buy our products»

Interview with Ricard Parés, director of PORCAT

What is the role of PORCAT?
PORCAT aims to bring together the industry and defend its interest. Especially when it comes to the administration and also the media. We gather both small farmers and companies based in Catalonia; the main role, therefore, is to give “the voice” that farmers cannot have.

Why does having a management in the pig sector have a sense?
All countries with a strong pig sector have management behind; such as Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium … and us cannot be the exception. If the sector do not get together and protect the common interests, our competitors would beat us. We are facing a quite competitive and globalized market, and for that we need to have a professional view on the market and on future challenges. We cannot be worried about nonsenses but be ready for a changing and competitive market. And that can only be held through - management.

What do you think are the market prospects of this sector?
For now, prospects are looking good. Prices are strong and export is growing. If we work well, we can have a satisfactory 2017, still we cannot relax though. We should not forget that sanitary is the most dangerous trade barrier, and it is in the peaceful moments when we basically must be ready. There must be an excellent sanitary level if we want third countries come to buy our products.

And, what are the challenges - at legislative level - we shall come across with in the coming years?
Reducing the use of antibiotic is the most important challenge at the present time. The European Union is aware of the need to reduce the current levels; both the Parliament and the European Commission have adopted several resolutions in this regard. In addition, the medication via the feed will soon be regulated by a new regulation, still in “the drawer” but when adopted, it will be of immediate effect and is the prohibition of medicated feed. To maintain the current levels of efficiency we need work extremely well in handling, especially in hygiene and disinfection.
We have much work to do to adapt to this new framework; no should we forget the legislation on animal welfare. There will be no changes, but indeed pressure to strictly comply with the current regulation. Topics such as cut-tails or castration will reappear from now on, as well as the transportation of live animals.

One of the hot topics in this industry is the waste management and plants slurry. What do you think should be the solution?
We certainly need to have a clear model of what livestock model we want for our country. From PORCAT, we are committed to self-discipline. And in Osona, in particular, is especially important the odours issue. It is a problem that can be solved indeed, but we need everyone, breeders and farmers get involved for real. The treatment plans, the reducing diets, the gas production or the composting; All these are – only – technological tools, very important ones, but only tools. We are convinced that we can maintain our current census, if we use these tools properly and commit ourselves to sustainable production.
We agree on the slurry control, on investing in treatments where necessary or the usage of electrical conductivity meters. However, better if we work on agreed targets between government and industry, with annual planning.