1 September 2000

Once ministry controls set up to contain the swine fever outbreak are released an estimated 60,000 overweight pigs will be released on to the open market. Spot quotes are already drifting downwards and live auction returns have slipped to 79.47 per kg. Although the GB AESA is still holding firm at 102.37p traders are reporting that the market looks fragile in the face of extra supplies in the pipeline now that the welfare slaughter scheme has been deemed unviable for most producers.

Forward quotes for heavy pigs in the 80-110 kg weight range have been as low as 65 to 75p/kg which will throw up sharp losses for most producers who are shackled with production costs of over 90p/kg during the crisis.

First supplies from the Essex and Woodbridge zones are expected to be released on September 9, followed by Norfolk and Suffolk zones on September 11 and the original outbreak zone on September 16. MAFF warn however that these dates are the earliest and are subject to no further suspect tracings during the intervening period.

Some more militant producers are calling for a campaign of non-co-operation to be extended across the industry to highlight their plight. They argue that their reasoned approach up to now has not worked and direct action will be taken including dumping almost worthless live pigs at key sites and other more radical forms of protest.

As Andrew Turnbull the MAFF vet confirmed at a meeting on August 30 with over 25- Eastern region producers there is still no clear clinical evidence of the origin of the Norfolk outbreak. Until this is traced there is the risk that this will flare up again and unless the compensation issue is settled the NPA warn that it will be hard to persuade their members to face another long period of uncertainty without breaking the rules.