THE WORLD’s top pork producers from Denmark – Dan-Slovakia Agrar, Pigagro and Polnovakia Agrar – plan to invest tens of millions of euros in constructing massive pig farms in southern Slovakia. While this should create some 110 new jobs, the farms could put a strain on the environment, which would violate environmental rules if they were operating in Denmark.

“We are successful and we want to increase our production,” Pigagro representative Peter Munk Laursen told the Hospodárske noviny daily.

Pigagro wants to construct a new farm on the place of a deteriorating cow farm in the village of Ipeľský Sokolec. Within four years it would have a capacity of 5,000 pigs and 3,000 weanlings. Dan-Slovakia Agrar is even more ambitious, since it wants to cancel cattle breeding in fields near Veľký Meder and increase the capacity of the local pig farm by 24,000 pigs. Polnovakia Agrar announced a plan to construct a pig farm in Palárikovo a few months ago.

“It is the strategy of Danish producers covering all of Europe,” VÚB bank analyst Martin Hubinský told Hospodárske noviny.

In addition to Slovakia’s relatively relaxed environmental legislation, Slovakia is also attractive because of promises made by Agriculture Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek that pig farmers will receive more generous donations from European Union funds this year. Danish producers already account for 50 percent of the Slovak market.

However, local authorities and professional organisations are casting doubts about the environmental safety of such projects. For example, Veľký Meder’s residents circulated a petition against the investment signed by 400 people, and Mayor Alexander Néveri said that people are particularly worried about the farm’s affect on tourism because of the smell and water contamination.

“Five or six thousand pigs per one farm is an enormous environmental burden,” Andrej Imrich, the head of Pig Breeders Union said, as quoted by Hospodárske noviny. “We are destroying the most fertile soils and drinking water from reservoirs in Žitný ostrov. This would not be allowed in Denmark.”