By Peter Crichton

AT a meeting with Lord Whitty last week, the NPA heard that there were no plans to launch an Ongoers Mk2 scheme to use up an estimated 12 million cash surplus not taken up in the earlier Ongoers scheme, which closed on 3 August.

The poor response to the innovative Ongoers scheme is seen as a signal by many in the industry of how few producers seem to be prepared to commit themselves to a long-term future in pigs.

This view is supported by the latest slaughtering statistics published by Signet.

The August weekly kill has dropped to 197,250 head and is down by a massive 33% compared with the 1998/1999 period.

This has produced a significant overcapacity in the UK slaughtering sector and further plant closures are on the cards.

The future of the whole Malton Bacon Factory set up remains uncertain.

Although the Spalding plant has been mothballed for over two years, there is speculation that this might soon be taken over as part of the overall Malton reorganisation.

Pig traders have pointed out that any new operator would be hard put to source enough pigs to put through the plant which can handle over 15,000 pigs per week.

One of the ways in which supplies could be found would be if other large meat plants closed down or switched to processing imported product.

The loss of any further abattoirs would be seen as a backward step as far as producers are concerned.

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

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