By Peter Crichton

THE governments long-awaited “Farm Summit” took place in London on Thursday (30 March).

Among measures for many sectors of UK agriculture was the announcement of up to 26 million-worth of aid to pig farmers moving out of the industry, rather than as direct redundancy or subsidy payments.

According to press sources, this aid package will be in the form of grants to encourage farmers to convert their former livestock buildings into bed and breakfast accommodation and for other forms of diversification.

More than a quarter of all UK pig farmers are reported to have left the industry in the past year and, on a proportional basis, this grant package is worth around 17,000 each.

Nick Brown has also promised to see if planning restriction can be relaxed to help pig farmers to find other uses for their buildings.

At this stage, there has not been any indication of direct support for the core industry, nor anything towards the 5.26/head BSE tax burden that the NPA has been campaigning so hard to have lifted.

Mr Blair also launched the British Food “kitemark” at the summit.

This is a red and blue “tractor” logo branded British food Standard which has been developed by the NFU.

Safeway, Sainsburys, Tesco and Asda have all pledged to support the logo and it is expected to appear on the shelves within the next few weeks. Other industry news includes the setting-up of a MAFF/MLC/NPA/Asda/HSBC-backed project headed by Dr John Strak to show UK producers how to manage exposure to risk.

Dr Strak has stated that this should help producers to better withstand the boom and bust price cycle that has had such a devastating effect on the industry throughout both the UK and the rest of the world.

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