By Simon Wragg
ASSURED British Pigs will soon be able to be sold through the live auction ring for slaughter, the Livestock Marketing Alliance confirmed this week.
This follows months of negotiation with Assured British Meats (ABM) and the Livestock Auctioneers Association.
The proposal to put farm-assured pigs under the hammer has passed the technical committee of ABM and formal ratification is expected over the next few weeks.
This follows agreement between negotiators on the issues of traceability, welfare and transport.
It has long been a bone of contention with pig farmers and buyers that farm-assured slaughter pigs should lose their status as soon as they reached the auction mart.
But amendments to the ABM/LAA auction mart protocol will allow pigs to retain their status, as long as they are sold through companies that have joined the ABM markets scheme.
According to LMA chairman, Norman Bagley, this is a huge boost for farmers who have invested in farm assurance, but still supported the auctions despite losing their assured status.
It also gives those farmers formerly locked into supplying deadweight contracts an opportunity to benefit from auction prices which have been higher than those offered by some bacon factories.
“We have seen a substantial return to auctions over the past few months due to better prices.
“While this announcement on assured pigs is not itself a cure for the problems of the pig farmer, it does represent a vital widening of marketing options,” said Mr Bagley.
“There has been an untoward bias towards contract sales for years and we all know that in the end contracts for farm supplies were simply torn up.
“Acceptance that farm assured pigs can be sold at auction is, therefore, a small step to help that process.
“It will be welcomed by many abattoirs which up until now have been prevented from using the flexibility of the auction system to purchase them,” he added.