By Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development
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Additional resources for Agriculture, Trade and the Environment: The Pig Sector (Agriculture, Trade and the Environment)
These trends indicate that the expansion of pig production in these five countries is exerting a growing risk to the environment in terms of the potential release of nitrates from pig farming into water bodies. x In Austria, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Switzerland the risk has decreased. Both the nitrogen balance and the contribution of pig nitrogen manure have decreased. In Japan, Mexico and Switzerland, a reduction in the level of pigmeat production and in the quantity of pig nitrogen manure have contributed to this decline in national risk.
In south-west Spain the natural cork oak ecosystem, la Dehesa, supports the black and red Iberian pig (Cerdo Iberico), source of dried Serrano ham. With the decline in this valued ecosystem (mainly because of the disappearance of transhumance, loss of importance as a source of firewood, etc), the present conservation of the remaining area of Dehesa is possible due to the maintenance of the Iberian pig for its dried cured ham and vice versa (Lopez-Bote, 1998). The pig’s productive cycle has become adapted to the annual acorn harvest from cork oaks, although only 40% of the total Iberian pig population are exclusively fed on acorns, the remainder also receiving concentrate feed supplements to their diet.
In the European Union, pig production is largely concentrated in the northern countries, which account for almost two-thirds of the total EU pig production. For example, in the Netherlands, pig production has developed as an increasingly more specialised activity. The development is attributable to a number of factors, including low cost feed supply through the port of Rotterdam, an adequate infrastructure with large-scale compound feed producers and modern slaughterhouses. Producers also have easy access to expert health care, professional extension advice and specialised education.