21 October 1999
Brown to detail new help for pigs

By Donald MacPhail

NEW measures to help the beleaguered pig industry are expected to be announced by agriculture minister Nick Brown within the next few days.

Mr Brown, who is in favour of labelling schemes which allow consumers to identify high-quality pigmeat products, made the pledge yesterday (Wednesday) in Parliament.

His comments come just weeks after he told pig industry leaders that two new officials would be appointed to monitor pigmeat sales.

One official will determine whether pigmeat imports are produced to UK animal welfare standards, rather than under farming systems which are outlawed here.

The other official will check whether supermarkets keep to promises that they will source a percentage of their pigmeat products from British herds.

Mr Brown has also pledged tough new labelling regulations, enforceable by trading standards officers, to clarify the country of origin of imported pigmeat.

Under present rules, pigmeat can be labelled British if it is processed in this country even if the pig it comes from was reared abroad.

Pig farmers say they are suffering due to the strength of the pound and the expense of animal welfare regulations which competitors do not have to adhere to.

Producers also say they have been penalised by a “BSE tax” – the knock-on effect of the BSE crisis which has led to increased production costs.

According to the National Pig Association, pig farmers have been losing money for the last 18 months. The average pig is being sold at a £7 loss.