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Agriculture. Kosiniak-Kamysz: “Hundreds of thousands of farms collapsed.” We check

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Speaking on the radio about the problems with Ukrainian grain, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz alarmed that in Poland “hundreds of thousands of farms collapsed”, and in terms of the number of farms with pigs “Poland is falling in the rankings”. The data do not confirm such pessimistic assessments of the head of the PSL – but they are also not happy.

President of the Polish People’s Party, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz he said on Radio Zet in the program on April 14 about the consequences of importing Ukrainian grain to Poland. Farmers have already warned about the poor quality of imported cereals. April 15 Ministry of Development and Technology admittedthat “during the inspection of products imported from the territory of Ukraine, harmful substances (pesticides) were detected, among others in wheat”. As a consequence, Poland decided to temporarily suspend grain imports. Even before this decision, the head of the PSL spoke about the effects of the problem with Ukrainian grain: “Food security is at risk. As food production is threatened, more farms may fail. Hundreds of thousands have already fallen” – Kosiniak-Kamysz said on Radio Zet. Then he added: “In 2015, there were 260,000 farms breeding pigs alone. Now it’s about… over 60,000. We already have huge losses here. Poland is falling from the leader in pig production in these rankings“.

Is the head of the PSL right in presenting the situation of farms in such a pessimistic way? We checked the statistics.

Fewer and fewer farms? True, but “hundreds of thousands” did not fall

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Speaking of “hundreds of thousands” of bankrupt farms, the head of the PSL did not specify what period he had in mind. According to the data of the Central Statistical Office from subsequent editions “Statistical Yearbook of Agriculture” in 2020, there were 1,317,400 farms in Poland. Ten years earlier, in 2010, there were 1,509,148 farms, while at the end of 2015 – 1,409,649 farms. However, we make a reservation: these are data on the number of farms, not the number of “bankrupt” farms.

Number of farms in PolandKonkret24/Eurostat

According to the data of the Central Statistical Office, from 2010 to 2020, over 190,000 people lost their jobs. farms, and from 2015 (the year the United Right came to power) to 2020 – over 90,000. The latest figures comparable to the current ones are from 2010, because from that year it was introduced gradually changes in methodology keeping statistics.

However, the available data do not confirm the words of Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz about the collapse of “hundreds of thousands of farms”. Such a statement in a radio program in the current situation suggests to the recipient that the politician is talking about falls in recent years, and not in the perspective of many years.

The problem of declining farms is a fact – farmers have been talking about it for years. In November 2021, the Farmer.pl website quoted Rafał Mładanowicz, chairman of the Council of Young Farmers at the National Council of Agricultural Chambers: “Today we are in a situation where farms collapse every day, small shops fail every day because they are unable to maintain “They have no local raw material, no local processors, we have networks, networks and more networks.” service in March this year agroFakt.pl informed about the list of organizations and associations of the agri-food sector sent to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “Polish farms will die less spectacularly, in the silence of the tables and data of the Central Statistical Office, because there will be no customers for the agricultural products they produce in Poland and abroad” – farmers wrote (quoted after agroFakt.pl).

Ranking of pig leaders: Poland’s position is rather stable, but the entire industry is in crisis

Kosiniak-Kamysz also claims that Poland is falling in the pig production rankings and that there were 260,000 pig farms in 2015, and now there are over 60,000. He collects data on the number of pig farms Agency for Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture (ARMA). It keeps a register of marked farm animals (i.e. cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) based on notifications submitted by animal owners. According to the latest data – from March 31, 2023 – there were 53,981 farms with pigs in the Animal Identification and Registration System.

We asked the agency for data for the period 2015-2022 – we are still waiting for an answer. Statistics available on industry websites are similar to those quoted by Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz. “Agricultural Weekly” In November 2017, he referred to the data of the Ministry of Agriculture, which showed that there were 238,000 pig farms in Poland.

When it comes to rankings and Poland’s place in them, one can analyze data on the size of the pig population in individual countries. European comparisons of these statistics according to Eurostat. According to the latest available data, from December 2022, there were 9.62 million pigs in Poland and it was the sixth highest population in Europe. More pigs were raised in: Spain – 34.1 million; Germany – 21.4 million; France – 12.2 million; Denmark – 11.5 million; the Netherlands – 10.7 million. Poland was ahead of e.g. Italy (8.7 million), Belgium (5.8 million) and Romania (3.4 million).

Pig population in European countries in 2022 (in millions)Konkret24/Eurostat

Eurostat data confirms that between 2012 and 2022, Poland occupied the fifth or sixth place in this ranking. And in 2010, with a population of 14.8 million pigs, Poland was in third place in Europe. In 2000, the population was 19.7 million pigs, which also gave us the third result in Europe, and in 1995, with a population of 20.3 million pigs, Poland was in second place.

So the head of the PSL is right only if we take into account the long-term perspective. When it comes to recent years, Poland’s position in the ranking of pig production leaders is rather stable.

Industry about the collapse of the pig market in Europe

Industry portals draw attention to the deteriorating situation of pig breeders. Service 3trzy3.pl, discussing Eurostat data for 2022, noted that in almost all European Union countries where the pig population exceeds 3 million, the number of pigs has decreased. “Germany and Denmark recorded reductions in pig stocks corresponding to more than half of the total reduction in the EU,” we read on 3trzy3.pl. The decline in Germany corresponds to 33 percent. total declines in the EU.

“Despite such a crisis, our western neighbor still has a strong position against the background of the EU, due to the high internal demand. Spain handled the crisis best, thanks to export opportunities” – comments Bartosz Czarniak from the Polish Association of Pig Breeders and Producers in response to Konkret24 . He notes that Poland, like Germany, has seen a large decline in its sow population, making domestic production increasingly dependent on the supply of young animals from outside the country. This weakens Poland’s position in the production chain.

In the last two years, as a result of the collapse of the pig market in Europe – the detection of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany and smaller orders from China – the situation in the country has become dramatic, which has reduced our herd to less than 10 million units.

Polish farms have been struggling with the ASF virus since 2014. Czarniak emphasizes that the outbreak of the epidemic in Poland has inhibited the development of pig farming and production – but paradoxically, it has contributed to greater professionalization of production. More attention is paid to the biological protection of farms. Czarniak sees the possibility of stopping the decline in production in improving the existing methods of fighting the ASF virus or even changing them completely.

Expert: The reasons for this state of affairs can be found in the statements of politicians

Dr. hab. Mariusz Hamulczuk from the Institute of Economics and Finance of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences explains that both the Polish market and the EU countries are undergoing a period of major changes. Specialization has occurred in Western Europe – there are fewer farms and the scale of production has increased. Polish farms, on the other hand, are small and therefore less competitive. – The reasons for this state of affairs can be found in the statements of politicians who have been saying for many years that we are focusing on family farms – says Konkret24 Dr. Hamulczuk. points out that in the case of pig farming, for example, the so-called outbreeding. – The introduction of such a solution, in my opinion, would increase production, a good example is the production of poultry – he says.

Also, according to the expert, the situation of the market in recent years has been affected by African swine fever. – In Poland, the disease has led to the liquidation of many farms, which means that the scale of population decrease is stronger than the EU average – says Dr. Hamulczuk. He estimates that it also had a negative impact on the entire EU market, making it more difficult to convince buyers from outside the EU to buy meat. The situation on the pig market was also affected by the gradually introduced animal welfare policy – because it increases production costs. Last year was the war in Ukraine and the related high prices of feed and energy, which also have an impact on farmers’ decisions. – Protests are not without significance, people all over Europe do not want to live near farms with pigs – notes Dr. Hamulczuk.

Author:Krzysztof Jablonowski

Main photo source: Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

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