16 January 2001
One-quarter want to quit pigs

By Alistair Driver

RESPONSE to a government scheme paying farmers to quit pig production seems to show that one in four wants to leave the industry.

The Ministry of Agriculture has sent out over 2000 applications forms to pig farmers interested in its “outgoers” scheme which opened last month.

The enquiries represent more than a quarter of the 7200 farmers who had herds of more than 50 pigs in June 1998, according to official MAFF figures.

The scheme is part of a 66 million, three-year programme to restructure Britains pig industry and compensate those who have quit since June 1998.

Pig farmers commenting on the National Pig Association website fear the big response could signal further contraction of the already depleted industry.

The pig herd has already contracted by around 20% since June 1998.

Producer Richard Longthorp said the figure seems “depressingly high”.

But Stewart Houston, NPA producer group chairman, said nobody knew how many farmers had already left the industry.

Last years swine fever outbreak in East Anglia cost producers thousands of pounds and resulted in the slaughter of more than 250,000 pigs.

“The figure is certainly higher than it would have been this time last year, thanks to all that has happened, particularly in East Anglia,” said Mr Houston.

A second part of the scheme, which will provide grants for “ongoers” who want to remain in pig farming, has not yet opened for applications.