By Peter Crichton

WITH outlets hard to find one band of East Anglian farmers have announced that they will be forming a live marketing co-op.

This follows news of the closure of Bury St Edmunds livestock market at the end of the year.

The new venture will be designed to handle up to 1200 pigs per week and will cater for those non-FABpig producers who still prefer to sell live and collect their cheques.

The loss of the Russian market continues to undermine sow prices throughout the EU as many ended up in the former Soviet Union before their current financial turmoil.

The result has been that cull sow prices have hit record lows and this weeks UK quotes are struggling to hit 39p/kg equivalent to around £40/head.

With year-end asset valuation looming for many pig farmers, balance sheets will show negative values which may lead to some banks taking remedial action.

The end of 1998 is seen by many producers as decision time and unless price trends show signs of a rapid recovery more UK pig farmers may leave the industry for good.

With current spot quotes in the 70-76p range the industry is still almost 20p short of a break even figure.

Prices in the run-up to Christmas often ease back as contract pigs are pulled forwards, and in early December the spot market will also have to absorb those producers dumped by Malton who refused to sell on an AESA linked basis.

The current AESA is quoted at 67.52p for the week ending 14 November, up 1.26p on the week.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry