14 May 1999
French plan mass slaughter of weaners

By FWi Staff

FRENCH pig producers are to slaughter 80,000 weaners over the next four months in a drastic attempt to persuade Europe to put controls on the pig market.

The pigs, which would usually go to Spain for fattening, will be destroyed with the full backing of the French meat trade association Fédération Nationale de la Coopération Bétail et Viande, reports the magazine La France Agricole.

The scheme, which will cost FF4 million (£400,000), will be financed through regional farmer levies and farmers will receive compensation for pig losses at FF50-70 (£5-£7/pig, comparable to Spanish values).

In an attempt to bring European pig numbers down the French asked other member states to join them in this act. But all those approached including Germany, Denmark, and Holland refused.

Hitting back, the French have now threatened to boycott Dutch imports, as well as look at the possibility of preventing their lorries from going to Spain.

Tony Fowler, senior economic analyst from the Meat and Livestock Commission, questioned the success of such a slaughter scheme – just 0.3% of French pig production.

The plan may perhaps reduce slaughter supplies in the autumn but, by then, prices are expected to have risen slightly, said Mr Fowler.

He also questioned the legality of banning Dutch imports on the basis that it would go against the concept of a European single market.

“If they start restricting imports it could have wide ramifications and may be challenged,” he added.