17 May 1996

No cash aid for pig feed cost increases

By Tony McDougal

PIG producers facing a considerable rise in feed costs after the ban on meat and bonemeal rations will not receive government compensation.

Despite intense lobbying by the British Pig Association, MAFF says there is no funding available to help meet the estimated additional £4-£6/t feed cost facing producers having to switch to either fishmeal or vegetable-based protein supplements.

West Midlands producers have lobbied Labours agricultural spokes-man in the European Parliament David Hallam (Hereford and Shropshire), in a bid to get EU cash.

Sue Corning, national pig adviser at ADAS Terrington, Norfolk said the most affected were those rearing pigs on grower rations, where meat and bonemeal accounts for up to 5% of the diet.

Ms Corning said alternative protein sources such as fishmeal, soyabean or rapemeal were expensive and could cause additional hygiene problems.

"Vegetable protein produces a different amino acid profile, which may affect muscle growth, and there could be problems of an increase in the excretion of nitrates, which will cause difficulties within NVZ areas."

Fishmeal is currently selling at £535/2t bag, while soya bean meal is being marketed at £218/t – up £70/t in the past nine months.

Jim Reed, UKASTA director general, blamed the high prices on low worldwide cereal stocks combined with reduced supplies of proteins, which had forced up European feed ingredient prices by between 25-30% over the past year.

Grenville Welsh, British Pig Association chief executive, said the BPA had been concerned about the lack of time given to compounders and producers to switch away from meat and bonemeal.

"We were told that the sale would be prohibited from Apr 1 and there would be a ban on use on farms from Apr 4. We said it would take three weeks to clear stocks and asked for help. But the government said it was not in a position to provide subsidy for disposing of meat and bonemeal or meet additional costs. The government claims that if it gave compensation, it would have to include the poultry and fish farm sectors as well."

The BPA claims it has been instrumental in getting renderers government support but it is concerned that knackermen are increasing charges for fallen stock.

"We said charges should be set at pre BSE-crisis rates and if there is no joy we will press the government for further action." &#42

Euro MP David Hallam (centre) on a visit to Bradley farm, Shropshire.