By James Garner

REGIONAL pig exports have been put on hold following further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had been expected to apply to the European Commission for permission to start regional cull-sow exports, which would have been discussed this week.

But in the event, DEFRA withheld its application as fresh cases of foot-and-mouth, notably near major pig-producing areas in North Yorks, broke out.

However, ministers will probably revive the export plan in time for the next Standing Veterinary Committee meeting in September.

Omens look good – in an informal discussion at this weeks SVC meeting, most member states recognised that large areas of the UK remained foot-and-mouth-free, though France resisted the idea.

An export breakthrough would have been an enormous relief for the pig industry.

The National Pig Association estimates that about 60,000 cull sows are now caught up on-farm, and this will build to 90,000 by September.

This is adding 3p/kg to production costs or 500,000/week to the industrys bill.

Meanwhile, hopes for an early resumption of livestock markets on a county-by-county basis are still alive.

Livestock Auctioneers Association chairman Peter Kingwill is confident that some “competitive” markets will operate during September.

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